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.

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