NYT/Siena Battleground Poll: Voters Want Change -- Again

There is already supposed to be a second debate, but not until Sept. 10, and by then, one candidate could be permanently holed up behind the taxpayer-funded walls of his sumptuous Delaware beach house. And so Donald Trump, fresh from looking informed, coherent, and presidential in the first debate, wants a rematch before then. 

As well as the first go-round went for Trump, however, he is in no mood to participate in another rigged charade in which leftist moderators lob softballs at the putative president and hand grenades at his opponent. Instead, Trump is challenging Biden to a real debate. 

Fox News reported Friday that Trump challenged the dementia patient in the Oval Office to a “no holds barred,” “all on” debate that would actually touch on the key issues of the day, rather than focus on what hard-left “journalists” want to manipulate Americans into thinking is important. 

Trump challenged Biden to explain his abysmal record of the last three-plus years: “Let Joe explain why he wants Open Borders, with millions of people, and many violent criminals from parts unknown, pouring into our once great Nation, or why he wants Men Playing in Women’s Sports, or demand ALL ELECTRIC VEHICLES within five years, or why he allowed INFLATION TO RUN RAMPANT, destroying the people of our Country, and so much more.”

This was not a challenge to Biden alone. It was a challenge to the establishment media and all their moderators for presidential debates going back decades. The questions, both in their subject matter and how they have been framed, have overwhelmingly been designed to sell the leftist point of view and to reflect the left’s perspectives and concerns. 

Trump knows that trying to get moderators from allegedly more fair, accurate, and patriotic news sites has not alleviated the problem one bit — remember Chris Wallace’s disgraceful performance as moderator in a 2020 debate. And so he has a novel solution: no moderator at all. The debate would simply be the two candidates discussing the issues.

Trump continued: “It would also, under great pressure, prove his ‘competence,’ or lack thereof. Likewise it would be yet another test for me. What a great evening it would be, just the two of us, one on one, in a good, old fashioned Debate, the way they used to be. ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, ANYPLACE!!!” 

It has been a very long time since debates were that way. One would have to go all the way back to 1858, to the debates between two candidates for the Senate from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. These were real debates, worlds away from the sterile exercises in sloganeering and demagoguery that go by the name today. Each one of these debates lasted three hours; one candidate began the proceedings by speaking for an hour, with the other following up with a ninety-minute response. Then the first candidate would cap it all off with a thirty-minute rejoinder.

Related: Obama and Biden Explain Away the Debate in a Way That Makes Old Joe Look Even Worse

Imagine any candidate anywhere being able to speak compellingly, or even just coherently, for ninety minutes about his or her positions. We saw Trump deal with hostile questions far more often than any other president in a century or longer and so he could likely hold his own if there really were a debate with that format, but there is no chance that Old Joe Biden could last more than a few minutes in such a setting, and Trump knows it.

Trump also no doubt knows that there is no chance whatsoever that the Biden camp will accept his challenge. The establishment media will ignore or ridicule the very idea of such a debate, and that will be that. In issuing this challenge, however, Trump has brought to the fore the hollowness and superficiality of much today’s political discourse. The question should now be asked: why can’t we see the candidates engaged in a genuine, unscripted, unrigged long-form discussion about the issues that really matter to the American people?

The answer from the left is clear: we can’t have such discussions because too much is at stake. If they allowed their views to be held up to actual challenge and scrutiny, leftists might lose their stranglehold on the nation’s politics and media. And so the sloganeering, tribalism, demonizing, and demagoguery will go on, and on, and on.

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