It was the commentary of author Thomas Friedman that got me asking if this is a legitimate tactic: could the Biden Team seriously be considering the idea that they could keep presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden off the debate stage? Could they really keep him from debating President Donald Trump going into November?
Nevermind that failing to debate Trump will cost Biden the election, Freidman’s idea was farcical, as are many of the things now written in the New York Times (like the 1619 Project, which its author now admits is a flight of fancy.) Friedman wrote:
First, Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. Biden has already done so, and they are on his website. Trump must, too. No more gifting Trump something he can attack while hiding his own questionable finances.
And second, Biden should insist that a real-time fact-checking team approved by both candidates be hired by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates — and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled.
Tax returns? The Supreme Court has already ruled on this. Twice. Besides, no one who is fence-sitting on this race cares about tax returns (though, if we can also see Hunter Biden’s returns, maybe this could get really interesting!) As to his second point? Ok! Fact check away! But does Freidman not understand the double-edged sword of immediate fact checking? Has he never heard Joe Biden speak? Or, more accurately, fail to speak?
But what if this idea isn’t farcical? What if this is an actual idea in the minds of the political Left? Oh, sure, the Left could blow off the idea, and complain that I’m bringing up a red herring. But it’s not. A red herring is the Left asking, “Will Trump Leave Office?” if he loses the election. Recently, it’s been a litany of nonsense-merchants filling minutes on cable news and 280 characters on Twitter – with no proof – on how Trump is not going to accept the election results, or about how Trump is using law enforcement in Portland as a test run for fighting off election results in November.
Clearly, the only two people in recent memory who haven’t accepted election results are Stacey Abrams and Hillary Clinton. But what of Trump’s answer to Chris Wallace of Fox News, when he wouldn’t say that he would accept the election results? Well, that was a bunk question from Wallace. Should anyone accept results they don’t have yet? Should they accept results where fraud is alleged? Should they accept results where tampering is questioned? Of course, the answer is no. You go back, re-check, recount and confirm that the votes of the citizenry were honored and properly counted. When Trump said, “I have to see,” it was clear to rational people that those circumstances were the ones he was referring to. Or, he recognized the question as garbage and decided to give Wallace palpitations.
But back to this idea of Biden not debating. It started with Freidman, but it was clearly backed by the New York Times. And if tax returns are the first thing on their list, it seems very obvious that the Old Gray Narrative is telling Joe Biden not to debate Donald Trump.
Americans don’t reward cowardice all that much. They aren’t into those who hide from danger, or the truth. Biden has been hiding in his basement. Sure, coronavirus made it easy to do, but the Biden Team accepted their basement arrangement far too easily. Everyone has noticed that he’s hiding, including him! When Wallace interviewed President Trump, Trump said that if Joe Biden had to do an interview like this, he’d be, “on the ground crying for mommy.”
Would he? Well, we don’t know. Wallace – who graciously credited Trump for appearing on the show and answering tough questions – noted that Biden was invited, but declined. He didn’t decline being the first guest on Joy Reid’s new MSNBC show (Reid, it should be remembered, wrote anti-gay posts about then-Florida Governor Rick Scott, claimed she was hacked, never fully apologized for lying about not being hacked, never fully apologized for her comments that would have gotten a conservative fired on the spot and was rewarded with a prime-time slot on television.)
Ok, you go where the interview is easy (and Reid’s interview wasn’t just a softball, it was an unpacked snowball.) It makes sense that Biden stuck with the friendly confines. But his campaign thinks they can get disaffected Republicans. Wouldn’t more of them be watching Fox News than MSNBC? Sure, they may hate Trump. But that doesn’t mean they’re settling in for a night with Rachel Maddow.
Biden purposefully skips hard interviews. Biden avoids hard questions. His team cuts off anyone and everyone, ending interviews with their candidate aggressively:
Sure, he has time constraints. But Biden can’t find ten minutes for Chris Wallace? Meanwhile, President Trump is getting asked questions from Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports! (Don’t laugh, Portnoy is a smart guy and has an army of devoted followers. And there is no doubt Trump reached Americans he never would have reached without that conversation.)
My bet, for reasons clear to all of us, is that Biden’s Team is afraid of what will happen on a debate stage. My bet is that all of Biden’s admissions that he can, “…hardly wait” to debate Trump are a lie. They know Joe doesn’t have the acuity to handle 90 minutes of debate. Please note that I am not a doctor, and I am not diagnosing Joe Biden. I’ve just heard him talk, and he can’t verbalize four sentences without falling apart. You’ve heard the same. You believe the same. And, my bet is, so does the Biden Team.
The problem is what I mentioned earlier: Failing to debate Trump will cost Biden the election. Specifically, it will cost him the Midwest. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan: The fence-sitting voter will not vote for the guy who is afraid to debate. The Biden Team can claim tax returns or Covid-19 or the weather or the chupacabra for their reason not to show up, but none of those reasons work. None will be accepted. None will be tolerated.
Trump could pull a Trump and decide not to debate because the network or the moderators are against him. But he hasn’t done that yet. In fact, he’s pushing to add debates to the three already on the schedule. Trump sees what we see: Biden can not handle the debate stage once, let alone four times.
However many debates there are, there has to be at least one. America will not accept a debate-less election. America expects those who want to lead this nation to stand up in front of them and make their case. On this there is no debate for Joe Biden: Show up, and you might lose. Fail to show up, and you definitely will.