If Joe Biden goes ahead with the three scheduled presidential “debates” he will be criticized for his debate performance no matter what. If he does not debate he will be criticized for ducking the debates.

Refusing to debate Trump is by far the least worst decision.

Many do not understand how the debates are organized, among them Trump. He mistakenly thinks (or thought) he controls them. On August 18, 2019, at a helicopter departure scrum with the press, he said, “I’m the one that calls the shots on the really big [presidential] debates.”

Hey, it was a mistake; give the guy a break. He’s in his first political job!

Actually, the debates are organized by a 501(c) (3) called the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) created in 1987 under the sponsorship of both the Republican and Democratic parties. There were presidential debates before the CPD, most famously the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960.

There were no debates in 1964 and none in 1968 and 1972 because Nixon objected. Thereafter, the League of Women Voters sponsored the 1976, 1980 and 1984 debates. CPD then took over starting in 1988.

The biggest rap on the CPD is that its rules do not permit third party candidates, as defined. What do you expect from an organization sponsored by the two major parties?

Further, these encounters are not debates. They have been correctly called “controlled news conferences.”  They will not be controlled if they go ahead this year.  Rather, they will open new frontiers in chaos and mayhem.

The first reason that Biden should not debate is that these events will surely not be the dignified, informative and substantive examinations of the issues voters care about. If past is prologue, Trump, wearing his reality TV drag, will use personal invective, negative Biden family references, palpable lies about his administration, non-answers and calumnies too numerous to mention.

Those Trump tunes are not ones that Biden should dance to.

Second, and just as important as the mind-shattering nonsense of any potential Trump answer,  Biden does not need these debates to win.  Trump does. While Trump may not yet have reached the point of no return, he’s very close. Biden has nothing to gain from giving Trump an otherwise unavailable audience of millions of voters to give jive answers on his gross failures on COVID, the economy and racial injustice.

And don’t forget that debate rules will not stick to Trump. It’s not like the reporters can act like the New York judges who can throw such lightening bolts as “sit down,”  “step back,” and the dispositive “stop!” Rules are not for Trump. He will be a steamroller.

There is no question that Biden will be called every name in the book for avoiding debates.  If he cancels the debates I know we will even hear some MSNBC or CNN worthy intoning high criticism even though they think Trump is a jerk.

And some voters will not like it. But not enough to change the result.

Joe, don’t debate.


Fearing the backlash on Biden attacking his mental acuity, some early readers (EK, AG, TN, others) have suggested one debate and bagging the other two if Trump misbehaves in the first. A worthy amendment to my views!