Don’t change debate formats permanently

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

It would be a mistake to make major changes to the presidential debate format. There’s a simple reason: Donald Trump is a one off when it comes to immature, boorish and defiant behavior. The American people should expect — no matter who the two presidential candidates are in 2024 — that respect for the other candidate, and for the moderator, will be displayed then.

We know past debates included some heated moments. But never did a presidential debate unravel into what American voters and any international spectators witnessed on Tuesday night. The president was most responsible for what happened: He refused to adhere to the rules, opting instead to consistently interrupt Joe Biden and to ignore moderator Chris Wallace. The rules were irrelevant to him.

Criticize Biden, if you wish, for some of the words he used to describe Trump; however, please admit if Trump hadn’t acted liked a spoiled child who needed to be sent to bed without his late-night snack, then Biden never would have had to resort to name calling.

There will be changes before the second debate takes place in a couple of weeks. Absolutely, I agree that good-sized band aids need to be applied so that every effort is made to prevent a repeat of last night. However, Trump will continue to be the bull in the China shop; he will again destroy the agreed to rules and will again be the petulant loud mouth.

He won’t change, so the debate commission and the American voters have to put up with two more 90-minute displays of his behavior before they can look forward to two adults on a stage in four years’ time.

No, the debate format doesn’t need permanent change. It simply needs to get past Trump. Once that happens, debate will be great again.

How Duke beat UNC…and this is no game

The Guardian reports Duke and UNC took dramatically different approaches to preparing for the fall semester. And Duke’s plan was far more successful.

As part of its plan to combat Covid, the university allowed only freshmen and sophomores to reside on campus for the fall semester, spreading roughly 3,000 students among its housing, one per room.

These moves, along with a rigorous weekly testing program that is screening thousands of students, faculty and staff, have helped keep Duke’s positive cases low and could prove a model for other institutions hoping to avoid the fate of universities around the country that have experienced uncontrolled outbreaks.

A shining city on a hill is in the gutter

Ronald Reagan spoke of America as a shining city on a hill.

Bill Clinton said he still believed in a place called Hope.

Donald Trump urged a white supremacist group to “stand by.”

Remember the date: Sept. 29, 2020. It is the date America was never so pitiful on the world stage.

For it was on this night that an American politician took the last vestige of the democratic process he hadn’t violated — the debate — and destroyed it.

The presidential debate, an imperfect but reasonable opportunity for American voters to evaluate the credibility of the person who wants to be the president of the United States, on this night became the playground of a spoiled child — who happens to be in his 70s. If he were a child, an adult would have sent him to his room without a bedtime snack, and then grounded him for a few days.

Instead, on this night, his third wife smiled at him lovingly after he showed zero respect for his opponent and for the debate moderator. For what it’s worth, the third wife refused to kiss him, and he never attempted to kiss her, when she joined him briefly on the debate stage.

There is no reason the next two presidential debates should be held. If Donald Trump is going to treat Joe Biden, the debate moderator, democracy and reasonable American people with such contempt, then he ought not have the stage. Leave him to hold his rallies wherever he’d like to hold them. Give him his phone so he can tweet to his heart’s content. Let him call the occasional press event in order to tout whatever it is he wishes.

But don’t dare force the American people to suffer through another 90 minutes of contempt.

On this night, Trump made his base feel quite good. He threw gas on every possible political fire he could find. He refused to admit mistakes. He said that a noted white supremacist group should “stand by” should the November election not go well.

He showed no grace. He showed no class. He showed no decorum. He showed no leadership.

On this night, I was never so embarrassed to be an American.