A Word of Advice on the Upcoming Debates

A Word of Advice on the Upcoming Debates
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik


On September 2, Mike Miller on these pages has an article about the upcoming Presidential debates of which there are three scheduled.  There is a lot of talk here, on social media and in the blogosphere about Joe Biden based upon the supposition that Biden will emerge a bumbling, mumbling fool.  Admittedly, given some of his recent unscripted (and even scripted) performances, the chances of it happening at least once over the course of a 90-120 minute debate are quite good.  Redstate should LiveBlog these debates and award a free membership to the winner of an over/under contest.

This writer really does not put too much credence on talking head pundits on television, but one person who makes a decent argument with respect to the upcoming debates is Ari Fleischer.  Citing an article by Marc Thiessen, he said:

…it’s a mistake by Republicans to point out how bad Joe Biden is. They’re lowering expectations that all Biden has to do is not faint and he’ll win the debate. Biden did go through the Democratic debates and he had his stumbly-bumbly moments. Remember when he told parents to play record players for the children when they go to bed? But, overall, he was able to get through the debates and stand. So, it’s a delicate dance Republicans have to do between saying Joe Biden can’t even string together a sentence, without lowering the bar so much that Biden wins all the debates.

Admittedly, it is somewhat amusing to listen to Biden’s word salad and see sign language interpreters trying to figure out WTF he just said.  The Trump campaign even made a commercial comparing the Joe Biden of before and now.  When he does bumble and gaffe, anyone has the right to highlight and deride it.  Many times here on Redstate, writers and commenters find it “sad” or “elder abuse.”  My view?  Biden put himself in this situation and is fair game despite his age, his mental acuity, his inability to string together words into coherent sentences, or any brain malfunction he may have.  I care not one wit about “abusing the elderly” or his dementia.  I can muster no sympathy and I do not feel “sad.”

That being said and getting back to Fleischer’s thesis, lowering the bar for Biden plays into Biden’s hands.  A certain percentage of his “appeal” are his gaffes.  For someone who has been in politics for 47 years, he has built up quite a repertoire of them and although fact-checkers on the Right are quick and correct to point them out, voters are well aware of Joe Biden- his misquotes, his plagiarism, his gaffes, and his rewriting of history.

Hence, we (and everyone else) have come to expect it of Biden at this point.  But by lowering the bar, what if perchance Biden does not stumble or bumble whether he’s hopped up on medication or not?  What if he comes off as 90% or 80% or 65% coherent in the debates?  By placing our hopes on Trump decimating Biden in a live, in-person debate over 90 minutes, we may be building ourselves up for a tremendous letdown.

Sure, the bar among the media with respect to Biden is very low.  To them, all he has to do is land one blow on Trump while Trump lands 50 and they will declare Biden the winner.  Trump objectively wins by decision or TKO, but to them Biden will emerge victorious.  Trump is not just debating Biden; he is also fighting the media fans and the referee.  To the media, Trump only wins if Biden is reduced to tears and cries, “Jill…mommy…I don’t wanna do this anymore.”

This writer is kind of afraid that many of us are building ourselves up for something that may not happen.  While preparation for the debates will give Biden a great excuse to go hide in his Wilmington bunker for fourteen days, we all know that Trump really does not engage in such preparations.  In effect, we are hoping that his unpreparedness wins the day.

That is not to say that Trump’s strategy will not pay dividends.  His unfiltered approach and comments are to Trump supporters what Biden’s gaffes are to his supporters.   It should also be noted that Trump has recognized that Biden can be coherent in a debate.  That observation is the whole point behind Trump suggesting a drug test before the debate.  Byron York asked Trump in that interview whether the debates were a prize fight.

And that is how we need to look at this.  If I enter the ring to fight Mike Tyson for three rounds and I somehow survive, people will perceive me as the winner; I made it through the three rounds, perhaps bloodied, but I made it.  The only way Mike Tyson is perceived the winner is if I end up in the hospital in a coma missing an earlobe.

That is what setting the bar so low for Biden has done.  Trump needs to not only bloody Biden, but put him a political coma.  After all, Biden is already half way there.

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