Presidential debate

The 2020 debates

Featured image Yesterday’s Washington Post article about top Biden adviser Ron Klain contained this passage: Klain has developed a specialized role as the Democrats’ preeminent coach for presidential debates. He worked on debate preparations for Bill Clinton in 1992 and Gore in 2000, and he has led the debate prep for every Democratic nominee since — John F. Kerry, Obama, Hillary Clinton and Biden. Klain’s debate rules for candidates, versions of which »

Biden’s biggest asset is his lie-ability

Featured image Apologies for recycling this tired lawyer joke, but it popped into my head after last night’s debate. And with good reason. Biden lied repeatedly throughout the affair. Scott has pointed to three of Biden’s major lies. Biden claimed he has never opposed fracking. That’s not true. Even CNN’s fact checker said so. Biden also asserted that not a single person lost his private health insurance under Obamacare. That’s not true. »

Tonight’s debate

Featured image If President Trump loses the election, I believe it will be because voters aren’t satisfied with his response to the Wuhan coronavirus and/or with the way he conducts himself. If Joe Biden loses the election, it will be because Americans don’t think he’s up to the job, or because they think his administration will be too radical, or (and this is a longshot) because they think he and his son »

The (not so) presidential debate, take three

Featured image Scott and I have presented our similar takes on the Trump-Biden debate. I have also presented Stanley Kurtz’s contrary view of that encounter. Marc Thiessen, the only regular Washington Post columnist who openly supports President Trump, offers a third take. Thiessen believes Trump won the debate on substance (I thought it was a draw for Trump, at best). However, Thiessen worries that Trump didn’t accomplish what he needed to do »

The (not so) presidential debate, a different take

Featured image My friend Stanley Kurtz has a far more optimistic take on last night’s debate than the ones Scott and I (and nearly all other conservatives I’ve read) have presented. Stanley is a keen observer of the political scene, so I was glad to learn that he doesn’t share my pessimism. Here are key excerpts from Stanley’s article, with my commentary sprinkled in: A lot of folks are saying the debate »

A long night

Featured image To Paul’s assessment of last night’s proceedings in the adjacent post, I would only add this. If President Trump entered the debate trailing in most battleground states, as I believe he did, his performance served him poorly. I can’t believe he won over a single persuadable voter. Trump’s performance must also have cemented the negative perceptions held by voters who have turned against him. He carried his do not go »

Thoughts on the (not so) presidential debate [UPDATED]

Featured image Nearly every poll finds that Joe Biden began the day ahead of President Trump. If so, I think he’s still ahead after tonight’s debate, and he may be further ahead than before. Biden showed that he can hang in with Trump at his most aggressive for two hours without faltering. There was no moment in which Biden struck me as being less than fully with it. A check of the »

What should we expect at the first presidential debate?

Featured image The first presidential debate will take place on Tuesday. Chris Wallace will be the moderator and sole media participant. Going back at least as far as Ronald Reagan, incumbent presidents have not done well in first debates. Bill Clinton is the only exception. I think the problem for incumbents is overconfidence. After four years in office, presidents think they know enough and have enough experience handling questions to get through »

Steve Scully, an update

Featured image Yesterday, in discussing the three moderators selected for the presidential debates, I described Steve Scully as probably “down the middle” and probably a “straight shooter,” as opposed to being pro-Democrat. That’s my impression of his work. However, this biography notes that “while attending college, [Scully] served as an intern in the office of Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden, and later a staff assistant in Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s communication office.” »

Debate moderators selected; it could be worse

Featured image We now know who will moderate the three scheduled presidential debates. Chris Wallace of Fox News will moderate the first one, on September 29. Steve Scully of C-SPAN will moderate the second, on October 15. Kristen Welker of NBC News will moderate the third, on October 22. There will be one vice presidential debate. It will take place on October 7, with Susan Page of USA Today as the moderator. »

To debate or not to debate

Featured image For many decades, there has been broad bipartisan support for the notion that the presidential nominees of the two major parties should debate each other. Privately, some may have questioned whether such debates should occur, but publicly, support for presidential debates has been nearly unanimous. Suddenly, though, pro-Biden voices are urging that there be no presidential debates this year. Elizabeth Drew, whose work I haven’t seen in at least a »

Old timers struggle to keep epidemics straight

Featured image Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders debated tonight on CNN. The opening topic was, of course, the Wuhan coronavirus. Biden began by presenting a list of ideas for dealing with the pandemic. Sanders agreed with Biden’s ideas, but insisted that we need to address underlying problems in our health care system and economy that contribute to our vulnerability. In other words, though Sanders didn’t utter them, we need socialism. Biden countered »

Dem field attacks Sanders. . .for a little while

Featured image “FORA,” the Forum on Ruining America, held another session tonight. Present were Tom Steyer, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg. The Democratic contenders finally realized that they need to aim their fire at Bernie Sanders, rather than on their fellow trailers. Even Buttigieg and Kloubuchar were able to resist skewering each other. Only Elizabeth Warren seems not to have received the memo. She »

Debate tidbits

Featured image Last night’s Democratic debate brought to mind a dysfunctional family into whose midst a stranger barges, claiming to be a relative. The family unites and pummels the stranger. But soon the kids (here, Buttigieg and Klobuchar) are quarreling more vociferously than ever. Here are some additional observations about last night’s session. PARENT ABUSE: Candidates’ kids sometimes play a role in debates, but not in this cycle. Most of the field »

Bloomberg may benefit from lowered expectations

Featured image I don’t know what to expect of Michael Bloomberg tonight. The conventional wisdom — that his angry, jealous opponents will carve him up — is plausible. But so is the view that he’s smarter and more skillful than they are. The conventional wisdom might play into Bloomberg’s hands. His rivals want to portray him as an empty suit who has bought his way into the mix. But Bloomberg was a »

What should we expect from Bloomberg tonight?

Featured image Michael Bloomberg will participate in his first Democratic presidential debate tonight. The conventional wisdom holds that he’s in for a tough night — a comeuppance, his detractors would say. That’s certainly the Washington Post’s take in this article by Michael Scherer. He writes, seemingly with glee: Wednesday night, Bloomberg will be forced to leave his comfort zone and test his chops as a charismatic politician. When he steps onto the »

The Dem debate’s biggest loser — CNN

Featured image Matt Taibbi, writing from the left for Rolling Stone, calls CNN’s debate performance on Tuesday “villainous and shameful.” Taibbi is referring to CNN’s handling of the “he said, she said” dispute between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And he is absolutely right to characterize CNN’s performance as he does. First, CNN’s Abby Phillip assumed the truth of Warren’s claim that Sanders said a woman couldn’t defeat President Trump. Despite Sanders’s »