35 thoughts on “Debate Thread”

  1. Seriously, why do people watch these things? Is it like watching NASCAR to see the wrecks? They are not debates and they add no useful information to the process.

    Since I am first, I am asking a philosophy question before it morphs into cheering for the home team.

    1. “why do people watch these things?”

      The MSM has been using the words “unprecedented in American history” a lot. I’m not sure anyone was expecting something like that.

      My wife and I watched it together, and we were both counting the minutes until it would be over. We both had the thought, that the viewership for the subsequent debates will be way lower.

      I have observed since, that the creation of chaos, as a debate tactic, has the advantage for both sides, that they can both impose their own interpretation of what happened. I toggled back and forth between Fox and MSNBC early this morning, and both were claiming total victory for their respective candidates. At least, their talking heads were claiming victory.

  2. Some watch it for entertainment or reaffirmation, but many more watch because they want debates to inform their decision. I watched it to see just how Biden performed. Each of his very limited appearances has been gaff ridden and filled with nonsensical comments.

    Biden performed better than expected. Was this with a hidden ear piece and modern pharmacology or because he was sand bagging is unknown. I personally think he moved his sleep schedule to basically a “3rd shift” so that our 8pm is his am. This would mask certain cognitive issues and explain why we don’t see him and his campaign basically closes before 10am every day.

    1) This was a mess. If you were expecting the decorum of educated, austere men in a debate you picked wrong two people. Anyone who has seen Biden over the last 5 decades knows that he is a well spoken bully know for beta tough-guy “i’ll kick or a**” comments. Trump clearly had a strategy to try and rattle him into a gaff or incoherence. He was too aggressive, interrupting Biden in mid sentence – saving Biden from himself.

    2) Wallace is a hack who changed the subject when ever Biden looked like he really had to answer. He did ask him some real questions – softballs would have been too obvious, but Trump is the one he really pressed.

    3)He admitted to Hunters coke problem for the first time I can recall, but deflected on everything else. He deflected from the graff and was saved by Wallace. I wonder if he will acknowledge his stripper baby-momma in Arkansas?

    4) He would not even acknowledge the groups burning and terrorizing cities. He couldn’t answer any of the L&O attacks. He and the DNC are clearly in a bind as the base are OK with it and not normal voters. Further, anyone can go and youtube ans see exactly who is burning and causing chaos.

    5) Trump had a golden opportunity and in the moment it looks like he completely missed it. He should have I do in no uncertain terms then ask Wallace/Biden to name one to condemn. He could have put a stop to the organized WS nonsense and he didn’t. The press will run with it for weeks.

    6) Wallace is the weakling behind the bully (DNC). HE wants desperately to have the respect of his position and be friends with the Biden admin. He had little control.

    5) Biden is the DNC. Sure half and it should scare you that he is the best they have. The other half are Bernie Bros. and radical AOC wannabes and antifa.

    6) Biden didn’t explain anything about what he would do wall constantly saying that Trump doesn’t have a plan. He also did nothing with Trumps line that he has done more in his last 47 months than Biden’s 47 years. Trump could have explained Federalism – he didn’t

    7) Trump won on the Judge issue. Full stop.

    8) Trump was not allowed to answer on his taxes. I’ll bet Biden payed less by percentage. If Biden’s tax returns were leaked I would laugh.

    This is just what I can think off the top of my head. I think Trump “won”, but that doesn’t mean he looked good.

    1. I don’t want to deflect to what Richard referred to as “cheering for the home team” but I need to point out that you are emphasizing most of the same things, and applying the same spin, that I heard from the talking heads on Fox this morning. The talking heads on MSNBC were emphasizing other points and/or applying other spin, and/or dismissing some of the points that you have raised, as important at all.

      I’m saying that just to underscore my point that chaos allows both sides to tell people what they were supposed to hear, if they missed it for themselves.

      (Maybe that’s why the history of wars can be debated for centuries?)

  3. Since you watched and were disappointed, you must have been expecting something other than what you got. These things have sucked for decades, maybe always. This one may have sucked more but the lack of useful information to make a decision has been a constant

    1. Given that the goal for both sides of a debate is to impose their own talking points on the audience, it is always a good question whether any useful information is communicated at all.

      My last experience with political debating was in 1989. I started small, fortunately, in local Republican committee meetings as I recall. Professional pols used dirty tricks with me (I was naive enough to believe the “communicate information” bullshit) but I learned fast while performing poorly in front of small audiences. As Shylock said “I did learn. . . and bettered the instruction.” When I got to bigger audiences, I used all the dirty-trickery and slaughtered my opponents. By the end of the campaign, my Republican handlers allowed me to debate the PA Secretary of Human Affairs on Philadelphia network TV, but by then it was too late for our opponents, and the public mind was made up.

      But the point of that too-long Old Story is: The purpose of a political debate is not to “communicate information.” It is to communicate disinformation or false impressions. Though I was proud of my chops at it while I was doing it, I’m no longer proud of my participation in it, because I was advancing a different agenda than I believed I was.

  4. The clear loser: Chris Wallace….what a shameful performance (and that was before it went off the rails).

    As far as who won? Why bother arguing, nobody’s mind will be changed.

    1. Fox could have use Hume or Beir.

      Wallace is the face of the network and the younger Murdochs

    2. “Wallace. . .what a shameful performance”

      The way I interpreted what Wallace was doing, in many cases, was trying to ground the debate in some degree of reality. He would use that tactic I would characterize as “Given that ‘A’ is true, what is your explanation for ‘B’?” Those were directed mainly at Trump. But, if you didn’t agree that “A” was true, then it would appear to be a shameful tactic, somewhat analogous to a “Do you still beat your wife?” question.

      It did not appear Wallace could maintain control as moderator, and tread to softly when he tried.

  5. I contend that Trump would have moderated his tone id he didn’t feel like it was 2 on 1.

    1. When has he ever done that, except when reading from a teleprompter, with reasonable assurances there would be no pointed questions when he was done? Even one-on-one with Woodward, he went off on his “you’ve really been drinking the Kool Aid” rant when Woodward said something he disagreed with.

  6. Let’s be honest, Presidential debates have been utterly broken for decades. The founders and generations after them were classically educated and understood the key concepts of a debate. Today’s debates are nothing more than opportunities to create soundbites (either for or against) to be used for campaign ads, memes, etc.

    The entire system needs completely revamped, giving each candidate an opportunity to present an argument and counter their opponent’s argument without interruption. Of course, this won’t improve the quality of the argument, as that’s dependent on the candidate themselves, but at least we can have something that doesn’t devolve into a complete shitshow where you hear nothing but 3 voices screaming over one another.

    1. A debate format for modern times: sit them at a computer for an hour, and have them generate memes that the audience votes for.

      1. You may be on to something! Also, make sure the voting is conducted through Twitter for the true experience.

    2. “The founders and generations after them were classically educated”

      Do you really believe that is true?

      That is a sincere question. For example, I don’t believe Lincoln was that well educated, but he “read for the law.” I’m not dismissing self-education via reading, but it is not quite a “classical education” as I would define it.

      Also, Andrew Jackson appears to have had little formal education, though along the way he taught school for awhile. He also “read for the law.”

      I haven’t done the exercise, but I think you don’t have to count too far beyond the Founders to find plenty of historical figures who were self-educated; just sayin’, people interested in learning practical and useful things, probably didn’t spend a log of rigor on things that were considered part of a “classical education.”

      1. Washington was not well educated. He married well. Adams was a Harvard man. Jefferson went to William & Mary. Madison was a Princeton alum. Monroe, William & Mary. Quincy Adams, Harvard, like his old man. Jackson did not have a lot of formal education. Van Buren read the law, as you said.

        1. Madison and Hamilton were both literate in Hebrew. This is always my answer to those who object to the Judeo part of Jedeo-Christian.

          1. “those who object to the Judeo part of Jedeo-Christian.”

            First, who objects to the Judeo part? Judaism would seem to be pretty inseparable from Christianity, as theology goes. Though, I am aware of fringe Christian sects that maintain that the “prophetic Jews” of the bible are not the garden variety Jews we know today. (Does anyone remember the little paperback books, “The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy” that the Worldwide Church of God used to distribute free upon request? Or their magazine “The Plain Truth” distributed free from vending boxes on every street corner — in Philly, anyway?)

            But in regard to actual history:

            There is a theory, not widely shared, that Hamilton himself was raised Jewish, based on the assumptions that his mother’s first husband was Jewish, and she would probably have had to convert to Judaism in order to marry him; and that she subsequently raised her children in Judaism.

            It is apparently conceded that at very least he had a Jewish tutor, or attended that tutor’s Jewish school at a synagogue, as a small boy, despite being nominally Presbyterian at the time. Later (also nominally) he converted to Episcopalian, i.e., post-Revolution American Anglican.

            In reviewing this, I found it said that there is no definitive proof that Hamilton actually spoke Hebrew, beyond a knowledge of a few words or Old Testament bible passages. But, it was not uncommon for a “classical” education at the time to include the study of Hebrew, along with Greek, Latin, and French. However, it does not appear that he ever attended a college that offered Hebrew at the time.

            1. Hamilton was self taught in Hebrew as he was in everything else. Madison took an extra year in college to get a minor in Hebrew.
              As to who disputes the Judeo part, the answer is anti-Semites. In this case mostly the remnant on the Right. While most Antisemitism is on the Left these days, they hate Christians too so the issue never occurs to them.

              1. “Hamilton was self taught in Hebrew as he was in everything else.

                Actually he attended King’s College in NY, but did not graduate, as he began his military career before completing his studies.

                And, as mentioned, as a boy he was tutored by a Jewish tutor who taught at synagogue, and possibly attended her school. In any case he was more than just “self-taught.”

                Just for an anecdote that I hope is loosely analogous: I had an engineering professor who was “professor emeritus” at an Ivy League University, but had no formal degrees. He was recognized for his accomplishments. But, he had attended numerous schools around the world. So, while he wasn’t completely “self-taught”, he had picked up odds-and-ends of knowledge in many places, filled in some gaps on his own, and put it all together brilliantly.

                Two brilliant engineers I knew and worked with in industry had no degrees and no formal education beyond service training, in the Navy and Air Force, respectively. That was not uncommon.

              2. “most Antisemitism is on the Left these days”

                You are referring to Bloomberg, Soros, and Schumer, I gather?

                1. They are atheists/secularists from a Jewish background like Trotsky or Zinoviev. But I was thinking of Al Sharpton, AOC, and others of their ilk.

                  1. “They are atheists/secularists from a Jewish background”

                    Jewish atheists went into the gas chambers right next to devout Jews in Nazi Germany. I think Jewish atheists at the level of Bloomberg, Soros or Schumer are smart enough to remember that. To suggest they are consciously supporting antisemitism is not logical at all. For the right to support antisemitism is not only historically consistent but is demonstrated every day. Factually of the three Jews I listed, only Soros has professed atheism. Bloomberg has made large donations to synagogues and received awards from Jewish religious organizations, but has not made Judiaism a focus of his own life. Schumer was or is a member of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. That could be like Trump claiming to be a Presbyterian, though.

                    1. I know that secular Jews were killed. You appear to know that too. The evidence though is that secular Jews don’t seem to get it. The support a deeply anti-Semitic party. Religious Jews behave differently. Soros, of course, was there the first time and survived via collaboration. Perhaps he thinks he can do it again. Being a member of a congregation does not make you religious. Depends on the congregation and the individual. Since you brought up Presidents, I would say that the only sincerely religious President in my lifetime was Jimmie Carter. The rest were nominally so or just pretended.

                    2. “The evidence though is that secular Jews don’t seem to get it.”

                      Isn’t it a little presumptuous for non-Jews to be telling Jews how they should think and what they should “get”? Don’t you think they get enough of that about Jesus? Who should be more qualified to remember how Nazism worked, and to recognize it when they see it?

                      George Soros was born in 1930, and was 14 when the war ended. What kind of collaborating did he do? I’m surprised that even jagoffs like Alex Jones or Glenn Beck would get involved with that “collaborationist” bullshit. Soros may be the biggest sleaze in the world, but you aren’t helping your case by spreading bullshit.

  7. I would have love to have seen one moderated by Joe Rogan.

    He dislikes both and his format would have been great.

    Biden declined, though i think Trump should still do it.

  8. Sure, immediately after the debates, people can argue over who “won” or “lost”. But there’s one thing that I think most of us forget: there’s only one way to determine who won, and that determination will ideally be completed the first Tuesday in November.

    (Whether it is or not will be a completely different question, of course.)

    I don’t blame people on their side claiming they won the debate — they are, after all, spinning everything they could to their advantage — but this is something that we tend to forget. If the needle doesn’t change for either side, then both have failed.

    I suspect this debate will be a failure, but only time will tell. I personally suspect that debates in general aren’t that useful.

    (And I still wish that at least some of the questions would come from their opponents in the debate — why should only the audience, or the moderators, have all the fun asking the questions? The question each candidate asks their opponent, and the opponent’s answer, will give us windows into both their souls. Which is probably why most candidates aren’t willing to do it….)

    1. “…there’s only one way to determine who won, and that determination will ideally be completed the first Tuesday in November.”

      Even that will only tell us who won the war — this year. Who won any particular battle can sometimes be debated forever.

      For the moment the Dems are saying they had a victory, because it appears Biden got a big bump in the polls immediately afterward. That needle seems to have moved, as you put it. But 2016 should have taught them how unreliable polls are for capturing the big picture. Who knows why some people tell pollsters one thing, while later doing the opposite of what they said? Quite likely a big percentage of voters do the opposite in the voting booth, from what they thought they were going to do, only minutes before.

      Whichever side wins come November 3 (or?) there really won’t be any way of knowing what factors or events contributed to that outcome. I still believe most of the explanations for Trump’s 2016 win are all wet.

  9. Trump was aggressive and too quick he saved Biden from screwing up. Wallace failed in his job He allowed Biden to interrupt and cut off discussion when it was going bad for Biden. Trump interrupted to followup on the questions and to pin Biden down on packing the court Wallace was trying to avoid Hunter payoffs to be discussed ,

    Trump was trying to trigger Biden and instead triggered Wallace. It was two against one .

    Many just saw Trump was strong and Biden was coherent.
    We all know Trump by this time and so did not need to hear his talking points. We wanted Biden to answer questions and to see if he could withstand standing for 90 minutes and not dissolve into incoherence. Biden did well Trump did not do himself any favors.

  10. “Trump was aggressive and too quick he saved Biden from screwing up.”

    If we accept that analysis, we actually learned something valuable from the debate, because snap-decisions while standing on their hind feet under pressure are exactly the things POTUS are supposed to be capable of. A general who was “strong” in terms of bluster, but who as a result threw his troops into a suicidal battle or into a trap or an ambush, would not be considered a good officer.

    I haven’t memorized them, but I’m sure Sun Tzu had more than one passage addressing the ways Biden appears to have prevailed in that “battle.” I’m not sure whether Sun Tzu said anything that would translates to “Friend or foe, don’t mistake bluster for strength” but if he didn’t, he should have.

    Trump seems unlikely to be a Taoist Master. ;-)

    1. “Friend or foe, don’t mistake bluster for strength”

      I thought this article was relevant to the subject of “strength” in this context.

      The Trump era is possible only because so many people have been so fooled by fake strength.

      1. President Trump has surprised me in the way he’s been willing to stand up to those who oppse him — he doesn’t fold nearly as often as I’d expect other Republicans to do. Mitt Romney, for example, is a particularly squishy Republican; the fact that he’s stood up and said he’ll vote on (and even vote for) Amy Coney Barrett has surprised me. (I’d like to think that my writing to him had something to do with it, but I’ve written to my Senators before, and I generally expect my writing to fall on deaf ears, whether they agree with me or disagree.)

        Having said that, my greatest fear is that Republicans will look at President Trump, and think “He was successful because he was blusterous”, and in the future try to win elections by being blusterous, when what I would like to see is someone willing to stand up for what’s right, rather than wilt at the first hint of opposition.

        1. “he doesn’t fold nearly as often as I’d expect other Republicans to do.”

          It will remain to be seen whether “not folding” means dying on the battlefield, along with most of his troops, as opposed to making strategic withdrawals enabling other battles on other days. Right now the Republican Party appears to be in an “all or nothing” position.

          That is the position we have been in since the day Trump got the nomination. To make a historical analogy, I’m thinking of Yamamoto’s alleged reflection following his/Japan’s great victory at Pearl Harbor; “I fear we have but awakened a sleeping giant, and filled him with a new resolve.” All along I’ve feared a “backlash” that would result in many babies (e.g., gun rights) getting thrown out with Trump’s tough-guy bathwater.

          1. A follow-up thought:

            I have rubbed shoulders and broken bread with some of the biggies in the “No Compromise” camp of the pro-gun movement. Back in the day I aspired to “bettering their instruction.”

            But eventually I learned that “No Compromise” was a fundraising tactic more so than an “achieve a goal” tactic. Being constantly on attack — even when it made no sense — established a group’s bona fides with a certain pool of donors, and in most cases insulated the group from criticism within the movement; a No Compromise group could always answer any criticism by calling critics “squishes”, “traitors”, and “Quislings”, and being on the attack would always motivate donations.

            Among those I was loosely associated with were people from a midwestern state who were at various times pitching the pro-life cause and the gun rights cause, but in recent months switched to the “stand up to the coronavirus shutdown” cause; carpetbagging to create groups in many states (including PA) other than their own, wherever the cash register pointed.

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