First presidential debate of 2020 will determine whether Joe Biden still has a working brain
If you’re a Joe Biden supporter charged with giving him advice on how to handle tonight’s first-in-the-2020-process presidential debate, what would you tell him?
It's a dilemma confronting Democrats today, as presumably (assuming the hibernating and frail Grampa Joe even shows up) the party nominee will face his first real test before a national audience with a foe who simply won’t sit there and take Biden’s blather about “record players” and “quartermasters” and “malarkey” and then stand idly by while the Democrat blabbers, “Here’s the deal” and spouts a couple minutes’ worth of phony statistics and emotional appeals to the gullible…. Or tells stories about how he marched with civil rights protesters or knows all about great people because of his dead son Beau’s military service.
Most observers suggest a lot is at stake tonight for both candidates. President Donald Trump must convince the convincible segment of the voting public that he not only did a great job deserving of another four years, but that he can somehow bring the Washington political class together to accomplish something other than by executive order. Biden will do everything possible to pin every iota of negative news on Trump and blame him for bad stuff that happened this year, last year, twenty years ago and over 200 years ago (the perpetuation of slavery).
Biden will have his rabid party base to back him up. So will Trump. The media spinners and newsmakers will nitpick everything that’s said -- primarily by Trump. Everyone treats Biden as though he’s made of glass and will shatter at the first inkling of a tough question. Like a boxer who’s thrown into a ring with a world champion two weight classes above him, Grampa Joe simply needs to be standing at the end to have his performance declared a moral victory by those who aren’t expecting anything meaningful from him.
Eddie Scarry wrote at The Washington Examiner, “The attempt to set Biden up as an underdog going into the debate is nothing outside of sad. As if he didn't look frail enough, we're now supposed to view him as a guy who overcame his stutter and is about to take on the final boss with nothing more than a wooden shield. Seriously, New York Times liberal Timothy Egan wrote Friday that Biden's trouble as a child with a stutter is his ‘superpower.’
“Everything that liberals are saying Biden should do in the debate is yet more indication that viewers should get ready to wince for the duration of the event. A New York Times op-ed by psychiatrist Richard Friedman offered this: ‘Mr. Trump, faced with a pandemic and an economic downturn, tells Americans what a great job he’s done. In response, Mr. Biden should smile and say with a bit of laugh: 'And just where have you been living? South Korea? Or Fiji? You cannot be in the United States — except maybe on the golf course.’’
If Biden actually does say something like what Friedman suggested above, debate moderator Chris Wallace should requite the candidate to show him on the world map where these countries are actually located. South Korea’s an easy one. But Fiji? There are a heck of a lot of little islands down in that neck of the globe.
As I’ve mentioned a lot lately, liberals seem fixated on the notion that Biden must “fact-check” Trump for deviations from their accepted storyline. But isn’t that what candidates do during debates, anyway? Democrats excel at inventing “facts” to justify their own version of reality. That’s how they get away with claiming that 60-million-plus humans haven’t died in America’s own version of a de facto Holocaust, sometimes knows as abortion. Or that importing mass quantities of un-vetted refugees hasn’t equated to disastrous consequences. Or Trump is responsible for every one of the 200,000 Americans who’ve died with COVID-19 (though only a small fraction of those succumbed because of the virus).
This isn’t to say that Biden lies all the time about everything. In order to lie you have to know what the facts actually are, and the Democrat has never shown much capacity to ingest hard numbers and weave them into a cogent argument. Take “climate change” for example. Some scientist somewhere calculated that the earth has warmed by a small percentage of a degree and that hypothetically speaking, this could bring disaster to the planet through melted polar ice caps, rising oceans and killer storms that thrive on heated sea waters.
Or, if you’re in California (and the west coast), the warming climate has led to raging wildfires that burn out of control in the late summer and fall. Leave aside the fact that liberal policies prevented logging of millions of dead trees and controlled burns are all but outlawed by environmental laws now… a huge fleet of electric cars will save everyone!
The “fact” is, Biden could say practically anything and the commentary powers-that-be would either interpret it as opinion or a simple slip-up or gaffe that the candidate is renowned for. The Democrat nominee hasn’t faced serious questioning in over a half year, and even then, the primary contest was over before it really turned nasty. The party’s left was overwhelmed after Bernie Sanders took the early lead and once the elites flipped the panic switch, Grampa Joe was the sole beneficiary.
Biden won the nomination more through a process of elimination than a true vetting exercise. Democrats wouldn’t allow Fox News to host a debate, so the vast majority of questioning to the candidates was soft at best and pathetic at worst. The contenders themselves didn’t touch the truly controversial subjects -- especially where Biden was involved. VP nominee Kamala Harris did question Grampa Joe on his prideful fond memories of having worked with segregationists, but the only other memorable moments didn’t even involve the ultimate winner.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard used her inclusion in the debates to dig into Harris’s shaky past as a prosecutor and Attorney General of California. And Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren made (pardon the pun) short work of billionaire hypocrite Michael Bloomberg in the two debates he participated in. Aside from these instances, Biden just looked back and forth at the people on stage while the bright lights shown all around him, the same stupefied look on his face and spouting his pre-programmed rage whenever it was his turn to speak.
The only real policy differences between the Democrat candidates concerned healthcare proposals. The socialists pined for “Medicare for All” while Biden and the so-called “moderates” (himself, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar) warned of the change being too expensive. Each took his or her turn trying to explain the numbers and how their plan was better and more affordable than the others’. Expect to hear a lot of this tonight as Biden aides look over his debate answers trying to formulate a set of talking points that make him sound coherent.
There will also be quite a lot of discussion of COVID-19 and why the Trump administration’s response was too slow, inadequate in scale and disastrous in reality. Biden will make it sound like Trump took a mouthful of viruses and personally coughed on seven million people (the current total of positive tests, including Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and his wife!) to make them sick.
Biden will say he’s being responsible and “aware of the danger” by not holding mass campaign events, while Trump’s callous use -- or non-use -- of masks ensured a quick and painful death for anyone dumb enough to go to hear him speak. Grampa Joe doesn’t know how to do anything except attack and accuse. Which one is the real bully?
Trump will be Trump in the debate. Which Biden will show up?
Republicans fall into a trap every four years when they approach the presidential debates as legitimate forums to discuss issues and policy proposals. Democrats couldn’t care less about what Trump did in the foreign policy realm, on trade, on taxes, funding the military or how he personally addressed the global pandemic caused by the Chinese Communist Party (or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus. No, they think it’s all about personality and perceptions.
They’ve executed various strategies over the years to depict Republicans as heartless penny-pinching shills who only want to take away a sick person’s healthcare, force women into back alley abortions and passionate racists who refuse to disavow the redneck hater class. At the same time, Democrats accuse Republicans of wasting money on weapons systems that will never be used, and for being “climate deniers” who disdain “settled science” and instead prefer to watch as the earth deteriorates and explodes because something wasn’t done about the warming when liberals first sounded the alarm.
How to address this in a debate strategy? The possibilities are many. Joe could take a:
Passive/Aggressive strategy. Biden could spend about thirty seconds of his two-minute answers looking calmly at the camera and expressing his condolences to everyone who’s been hurt/destroyed by Trump’s policies. Then he could look directly at Trump and cut into him like he’s the worst human being ever to draw a breath. In essence, he would come off as a caring gentleman and a defender of the downtrodden at the same time.
Example: “As a senator since 1973 and in my eight years in the White House playing second fiddle to the Big O, I’m the guy who got to see first-hand how any proposal to allow people to choose their own healthcare is a scam invented by insurance companies and billionaires. (Turning to Trump) How dare you try to ditch Obamacare? Don’t you care about poor people? What about women? Minorities are dying by the score because of COVID-19 and you won’t even wear a mask! Your perpetuation of ‘systemic racism’ has ignited fires in the inner cities. Electing you means four more years of the same. We’re all gonna die if me n’ Kamala aren’t in the White House.”
Mr. Nice Guy/Mr. Sunshine strategy. Biden can talk about the tone of the country being awful since he and Obama were put out to pasture by the term limits imposed by the Constitution. He can laugh a lot -- he’s good at it -- and flash his toothy smile in a version of “There you go again” (Reagan’s famous debate line in his 1980 duel with Jimmy Carter) to everything Trump says. He’ll shout that any questions on his family are out of bounds and direct voters to his website for photos of his kids and grandkids (except Hunter’s love baby created by his tryst with the Arkansas stripper).
Example: “The thing that strikes me is how much meaner the country’s gotten in the past four years. I hear you talk about a great economy and peace abroad and people going back to work and all that malarkey, but it’s just not true. My son Hunter -- he brings a smile to my face every time I think of him, like now -- is a man of integrity that you people have dragged into the spotlight. As president, I’ll make everyone feel good again. You know, like the old song, Shiny, happy people holding hands.”
Good Cop/Bad Cop Strategy. This might be the easiest tack for Biden to take. The Democrat can discuss how he would’ve required everyone to wear a mask at the mention of the word “coronavirus”, and how he would’ve put the entire world on hold to make sure not a single soul contracted the disease, but people like Trump wouldn’t allow it. Regarding his background, everything that ever went wrong was against his own personal feelings.
Example: “I wanted to vote against George W. Bush’s Iraq War, but Republicans threatened to take me outside behind the barn if I’d refused. They always threaten and strongarm to get their way. They’re bullies. I want to bring nothing but good tidings, healthcare and green jobs for everyone -- but Trump and his people are prisoners to the fossil fuel industry. If anything, everything that went wrong on my watch, it’s because they threatened to mention ‘Hunter’ to the media. They’re really, really mean.
“(To Trump) By the way, why aren’t you wearing a mask? Don’t you care about the country? Don’t you care about me? You’re a bully.”
The truth is, there’s no good strategy Joe Biden can employ in tonight’s debate because he’s a rotten placeholder (for a socialist) candidate whose shelf life expired about five years ago. Obama once told Biden, “You don’t have to do this, Joe”. It’s too late for common sense now -- not only does Joe have to show up, he’d better be ready for a performer like Donald Trump.