Just a reminder that Trump has repeatedly and relentlessly made clear he believes that Joe Biden has lost it and is mentally defective, while he himself is a Very Stable Genius. And now, he's been bizarrely adding that Biden is so out of it that he should take a drug test. So by all his words Trump has set the bar so high for himself that he should sweep the floor in the debates -- and ANYTHING even half-reasonable from Joe Biden, if he could just get his name right, is a big win.
I don't know what will happen in the debate tonight, of course. But I think Joe Biden will do very well. That's in part based on hope -- but mostly based on history. For starters, Joe Biden has been through about a dozen debates the past year, with 15 competitors on stage trying to defeat him as the frontrunner. And the past year, Trump has been through zero debates. Further, Trump has never been in a debate where he isn't The Outsider, free to attack others with no concern for reality -- for the first time in his life, he has to debate with a record to defend. (Not to mention a record that's pretty indefensible, from the pandemic to climate change to gun control to the economy to race relations to immigration and beyond.) And finally, because Trump has never been in a debate, let alone perhaps even a conversation in in his life, where the person opposite him is calling him a liar. In exchanges with the press, some may ask him tough questions -- that he either ignores, or calls nasty, or lies about -- but they aren't there to debate him, to tell him off. Which is something we know is something Trump has a very hard time taking. Now, imagine that all night long. Joe Biden will be there to do just that. And for all these reasons of history, beyond just hope.
Further, as a sort of bonus, Trump has set the bar incredibly low for Joe Biden, trying to convince people all year that Biden is "sleepy," mentally incompetent and (now) on drugs. For many people, if Biden can just say his name correctly, it will be a win. And yet the reality is that Joe Biden beat the entire Democratic field to get the party's nomination.
While those are my perceptions about what will occur in the debate, I also have my "suggestion" for Biden in the debates, which I feel pretty confident in saying won't ever happen --
When Trump starts interrupting or ranting or name-calling, Biden should do nothing. I mean, literally -- nothing. Just stand there and wait until there's finally silence. And then keep waiting in the silence for another 10 seconds or so. And when everything is finally settled and hushed, and people are wondering what is going on, he should then say something like:
"This is serious. The two of us are running to be President of the United States. The most powerful man in the world. It is serious. This country, the entire world is in the middle of a pandemic. The American economy has been pummeled. Americans are deeply hurting, worried about their jobs, worried about paying their bills, worried if they'll even have a job to go back to. There's deep racial divide. This job is profoundly serious. And if my opponent cannot deal with this with the utter seriousness that the job demands and instead acts like a child, he should not be on the stage."
That suggestion aside, I do have a couple of hopes.
My first hope is that Joe Biden says he's brought an air horn with him, and that every time Trump lies he's going to set it off.
And my other hope, since I don't think that candidates are allowed to bring any props, so the air horn idea is probably out, is that when Joe Biden is asked to make his opening statement, he says, "I cede all of my time tonight to my Donald Trump."
And he just lets Trump ramble on and on, and melt down.
But if none of that happens, my one final hope is that Joe Biden uses the phrase, "That's a lie" a whole lot. So much so that if there are any drinking games with people at home watching, taking a shot every time the word "lie" is heard, that by the end of the evening, there are a lot of sloppy drunks at home across America.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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