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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Running Scared: Trump Withdraws from Second Presidential Debate

 I was not in the slightest surprised to just hear this news

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump told Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo... “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating’s all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”

I and many others have been calling for moderators to have the technological capacity to cut off microphones during the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates.  Trump interrupted Biden just about every time the Democratic candidate started talking in their first debate, and Pence repeatedly talked far over his allotted time in the VP debate last night.  Moderator Chris Wallace in the first debate and Susan Page in the second debate complained and chastised Trump and Pence, but to no avail.  A capacity to cut off the microphone would have been  useful indeed, and would have well served the goal of the debates to give the American people a chance to see and hear the candidates discuss the issues.

Of course, there's no guarantee that a moderator, in-person or virtual, would use the option to cut off the microphone of a bullying (Trump) or over-talkative (Pence) debater.  But without such an option, the moderator's ability to reign in abusive and errant debaters is limited.  I would have liked to have seen Wallace and Page stand up and refuse to allow the out-of-line candidate to continue talking, but I recognize that that's easier said than done.  

A cut-off switch would have surely helped, and muting someone in an online conversation is easier and far less confrontational than in person.   Not to mention that online debates cannot be vectors of COVID-19.  But Trump cares as much about personally spreading the virus as he does about adhering to the rules of civil debating, which is to say, not much at all.  So, with his poll numbers plummeting, and his desire to keep faith with those who like his truculence, he ran scared and pulled out of the upcoming virtual debate.  Good riddance, and looking forward to November 3.


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