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2020 Presidential Debates: The Battle of Nashville [UPDATE-3]

[NB: Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Here’s a post for emptywheel community members’ discussion purposes dedicated to what was supposed to be the third and final presidential debates.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 8:00–9:30 p.m. ET — this is earlier than the second debate was scheduled before it was canceled. Tonight’s debate will be conducted at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tonight’s moderator is Kristen Welker of NBC, the only woman of the three moderators chosen for the presidential debates. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is an issue during the course of the debate, especially since it’s been a bone of contention that incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell has been reluctant to have a woman moderator for a debate against opponent Amy McGrath.

Good luck to Welker; I hope she’s got nerves of steel. She’s already had to deal with sideswipes by Trump on Twitter:


Only surprised Trump and his mini-me loser son didn’t make it about Welker’s mixed race heritage (Native American and Black).

Speaking of which, racism may also factor in tonight’s debate considering the location — Nashville was built upon a slave economy and was the first Confederate state capital to fall to the Union during the Battle of Nashville in 1864.

The COVID-19 epidemic may likewise figure largely. Nashville was the site of another pandemic which took the life of a former American president. James Polk died of cholera in 1849 only three months after returning to Nashville upon leaving office.

Could lightning strike twice, one might wonder, given how deep we are into another pandemic, this one encouraged by Trump’s malign governance.

One factor which might make tonight’s debate more challenging for Trump: the decision by the Commission on Presidential Debates to implement a two-minute microphone mute to allow each candidate to answer a question uninterrupted.

The muting will work like this: At the start of each of the six segments of the debate, each candidate will be given two minutes to answer an initial question. During that portion, the opposing candidate’s microphone will be muted.

“Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment of the debate. These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion,” the commission said in a statement. “Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule.”

Team Trump whined this was unfair, of course. Yes, it’s really unfair that we’re allowed to hear each candidate answer a question without Trump sowing chaos with unending yelling-at-clouds throughout the debate like he did during the first debate three weeks ago. Expect it, though — his behavior during his interview with Leslie Stahl was a combination of toddler, bully, and mobster:

Hard to believe Trump thought releasing this interview material ahead of the edited 60 Minutes program this weekend would be a benefit to his campaign. Being an asshole to Stahl isn’t going to help him with women voters who haven’t already voted. He’s just so ugly and tiresome, like an overgrown irritable baby in need of a nap.

My god, has it really been three weeks since the first debate? It feels like it’s been a bloody decade. I’ll be so damned glad when tonight’s over and the Union has once again taken Nashville.

~ ~ ~

Election Day is twelve days away. Are you registered? Have you double checked the status of your registration? Have you requested an absentee or mail-in ballot? Have you mailed or dropped off your ballot? Have you checked the status of your ballot if mailed/dropped off?

And have you talked with all your friends and family members to ensure they have done the same? Make plan — register, vote, and help others, but make a plan. And then execute it to win.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 9:15 P.M. ET —

He didn’t let us down. Trump the malignant narcissist, who believes and acts as if everything is about him and him alone, showed up this evening.

Meanwhile, 222,620 Americans have died from COVID as of the beginning of tonight’s debate. Americans are dying at a rate of 45-50 per hour, which means at least one American died while he blathered for two minutes about himself.

Revolting excuse for leadership.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 9:55 P.M. ET —

This is why I can’t watch Trump. Not at rallies, not in debates. When he gets a mic he lies and it hurts Americans.

He’s lied again tonight about his health care plan we’ve yet to see in +3.5 years. He’s preparing to take the Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court within days so his stacked jurists can kill it along with more Americans.

Meanwhile, even more Americans have died from COVID over the last 40 minutes — an estimated 30 more families will be told their loved ones didn’t make it. For every one of these deaths there are at least 50 new cases of COVID, a number of whom will end up with long-term disability due to damage ranging from their lungs to their testicles.

And he’ll keep lying about health care for all of them just as he’s lied to Laura Packard.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-3 — 10:45 P.M. ET —

Accurate.

Blowhard knows blowing hard.

Numerous accounts say Biden stuck the landing with his closing. Tell me in comments who’s got it right before the media proceeds to tell us what happened.

2020 Presidential Debates: Missing ‘The Capital of Latin America’ [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

I pre-wrote posts for the presidential debates, scheduling them to post a half hour before the event began. Here’s the post I wrote about the now-canceled second debate, on which Trump and his team flip-flopped about his participation.

Here’s a post so emptywheel community members can discuss the second of three presidential debates.

Tonight’s second presidential debate scheduled for 9:00–10:30 p.m. ET . Tonight’s moderator will be Steve Scully of C-SPAN.

The debate — changed to a remote format after Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19 — was to be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. Moving to a remote or virtual debate model removes a key topic of discussion though it’s best for the safety of the candidates.

Miami has two nicknames: the Gateway to the the Americas, and the Capital of Latin America. I wonder how closely Central and South America will be watching the debate because the original location lent itself to discussion of foreign policy in the Americas.

Good luck to Steve Scully on keeping the tangerine hellbeast from running amok as he did during the first debate.

Of course we now know that roughly 26-28 hours after Trump’s participation in the first presidential debate, Trump tweeted that he and his current spouse tested positive for COVID-19.

This is Day 14 after that announcement, and still an unknown number of days since Trump’s positive test was administered. We don’t know how long the gap was between the time the test was administered and when he announced he was positive, let alone if more than one test was taken or the kinds of tests used.

It’s also an unknown number of days since his last negative test because Trump and his minions have steadfastly refused to answer this question. We’ve seen reports indicating Trump was not tested regularly.

We still don’t have any indication who infected him or when. We know Hope Hicks, whose positive test was announced on October 1, traveled with Trump on Friday September 25. RNC’s chair Ronna Romney McDaniel was also with Trump inside the 24 hours before the “Rose Garden Massacre” super spreader event.

An unknown number of people including senators and GOP political figures were infected at that event; as of this past Monday we could account for 34 but there have surely been more who either didn’t tell anyone for various reasons including Trump’s goddamned NDAs, or fear, or asymptomatic status.

We’re no closer to knowing how the super spreader event began.

Trump ultimately canceled this second presidential debate because of his COVID-positive status seven days before this debate, unwilling as he was to participate on a virtual basis.

But just because he canceled doesn’t mean we the people don’t have questions for the candidates.

~ ~ ~

Make sure to add the date of the third and final presidential debate to your calendar — format and location subject to change, of course, if not outright cancellation:

Thursday, October 22, 2020 8:00–9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Curb Event Center at Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 8:30 P.M. 15-OCT-2020 —

I left this post unchanged while the situation gelled into this evening’s dueling town halls, with Biden on ABC and Trump on NBC.

Since Trump’s appearance on NBC was announced, there’s been a shit storm of outrage across social media platforms. Trump refused to debate on a remote basis, but he’s willing to appear on a network this evening at the same time as Biden?

Fuck that.

Many young people are tuning into ABC on multiple devices and streams to watch Biden’s town hall in order to boost his viewership ratings, knowing of course that Trump is hung up on audience numbers.

After the way in which K-pop fans skewed the reservation numbers for Trump’s Tulsa OK rally back in June, it’ll be interesting to see what youngsters can do this time against a forewarned Team Trump.

Not putting up Trump’s crap here tonight, especially after his rally appearance today in which he implied he authorized the extrajudicial execution of an anti-fascist protester.

2020 Presidential Debates: Station Hope [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

I’m putting up a post so community members can hash out the first of three presidential debates.

This one is located in Cleveland, Ohio, which was code named “Station Hope” by the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800s.

The entire day has been rife with bullshit rumormongering among the right-wing monkey horde, which claims Democratic candidate and former VP Joe Biden will use an earpiece for prompts by others as well as performance enhancing drugs.

Sure sounds like a lot of projection to me.

Trump’s campaign has already jumped the gun and sent out a fundraising email before 5:37 p.m. EDT claiming he’s won the debate which doesn’t start until 8:00 p.m. CDT (I’m writing this at 8:00 p.m. EDT).

Joe and his team are taking this all in stride.

Do open the graphic. The right-wing horde has gotten their panties in a twist about $12-13/pint ice cream, failing to take the time to check its provenance. It’s made by a woman-founded ice creamery headquartered in Columbus with a scoop shop in Chagrin, Ohio just east of Cleveland, with pints available in many Cleveland-area grocery stores.

Way to go, MAGAts. Good luck winning over more women and small businesses.

Anyhow…a list of online streams is available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLU12uITxBEPFAvcROsHJwIopn-Q-FMTSp

Fox is hosting which is a joke given their role in spreading disinformation today about Biden.

CNN’s Daniel Dale will be doing a real time fact check which Fox is apparently incapable of doing. Best wishes to Dale who will surely be exhausted at the end of the debate; he’s the best Canadian import we have next to Molson.

Best of luck to you all. I will check in later; I simply don’t have the patience for Trump’s lies while the U.S. has now lost 205,591 Americans as of this evening to COVID-19 because Trump’s such a useless fraud.

~ ~ ~

EDIT: Mark these dates on your calendar for the next two presidential debates —

Thursday, October 15, 2020 9:00–10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, Florida
Moderator: Steve Scully, C-SPAN

Thursday, October 22, 2020 8:00–9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Curb Event Center at Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:45 P.M. ET —

Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, what a spectacular waste of time and a massive national embarrassment. Trump has all the manners and grace of a toddler who’s missed his lunch and his nap, and yet he has all the maliciousness of an old man with permanent grudges.

Van Jones, who has been on board with Trump, may have had the scales removed from his eyes tonight:

I don’t know what took Jones so damned long to realize that Trump is a white supremacist who intends to keep his grip on power illegitimately and with the support of white supremacist terror groups.

The media isn’t taking this debate well, either. Many of them realize that Trump couldn’t be reined in even if Fox’s Chris Wallace had tried harder because Trump was intent on venting his meanness. Any one of them in Wallace’s shoes would have had difficulty salvaging any of the debate because Trump has no respect for the media if they aren’t kissing his ass.

Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center has an important message for the media, though:

Don’t give white supremacists a platform. Doing so lends them legitimacy. It’s bad enough Trump had one tonight which he used to ask them to stand by — in essence, calling to armed preparedness a seditious entity.

It’s past time to discuss both the illegitimacy of Trump’s power and the threat of seditious insurrection if he loses to Biden in an effort to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

Two more debates seem useless at this point, don’t they?

Third Presidential Debate — Open Thread

This is an open thread for the third presidential debate between major party candidates. It’s open to topics related to the debate topics and questions; let’s avoid other topics like sports or food, etc., unless they relate directly to the candidates.

Debate location: University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

Time: 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT (Nevada, however, is in MDT.)

Debate moderators: Chris Wallace, Fox News

Participants: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (Gary Johnson and Jill Stein did not qualify per Commission on Presidential Debates which organizes these events.)

The format for this debate is the same as the first presidential debate. A 15-minute segment will be dedicated to each of six questions posited by the moderator. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to each question, with a short rebuttal allotted to each candidate. The moderator will use the balance of time to flesh out additional discussion on the topics.

It’s rumored Trump will try another ‘nuclear winter’ move by inviting guests whose presence may ruffle Clinton. His effort last debate — bringing women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault to a panel before and outside of the debate — didn’t appear as effective as he would like. Will he indulge in other threatening body language as he did during the second debate?

Other rumors suggest Clinton may invite members of the Central Park Five to rattle Trump, but this is probably unnecessary as 1) Trump has doubled down on his stupidity about the CP5’s guilt (they were exonerated by DNA evidence), and 2) he’s easy to rattle without any third parties’ assistance.

I don’t know about you but I think I need to stock up on tequila to get through this last gasp.

Second Presidential Debate — Open Thread

This is an open thread for the second presidential debate between major party candidates. It’s open to topics related to the debate topics and questions; let’s avoid other topics like sports or food, etc., unless they relate directly to the candidates.

Debate location: Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Time: 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT (Missouri, however, is in CDT.)

Debate moderators: Martha Raddatz, ABC News, and Anderson Cooper, CNN

Participants: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (Gary Johnson and Jill Stein did not qualify per Commission on Presidential Debates which organizes these events.)

The format for this debate is a town hall. I have no idea as I type this what questions will be put to the candidates.

Or I should say I can only imagine a couple questions the moderators may ask based on the release of a certain audiotape on Friday.

ADDER: Looks like Trump has gone nuclear winter on Clinton, having a panel in advance of the debate with Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey.

Jonathan Chait Is Wrong about Debate Formats

I’m not all that hung up on Obama’s terrible performance in last Wednesday’s debate or in the upcoming ones.

But I do think Jonathan Chait is wrong that the Jim Lehrer format was Obama’s best chance because the upcoming debate formats are worse.

The VP Debate: the Angry Old Man

Chait argues, first of all, that Joe Biden will try to refute Paul Ryan’s budget kabuki, which will end up making the Vice President look like an angry old man.

But you can’t expose your opponent’s misleading budget numbers to win a presidential debate any more than you can expose your opponent’s misleading budget numbers to win a swimsuit competition. The audience has no concept of the underlying facts. The audience will only be able to grasp the atmospherics of the debate. And Paul Ryan is a world-class bluffer. He will spout figures with winsome authority, and Biden will come off as an angry old man.

When DC Democrats talk about Biden’s upcoming debate performance, they seem to forget how Biden did in his debate against Sarah Palin in 2008. That was one of the biggest challenges in 08, pitting a guy with over 30 years service as a successful policy wonk Senator against a blithering, but very attractive female, idiot. It is often difficult for men to get the dynamic of debating women–both respecting them but not bullying them–right, and this was all the more dangerous. But Biden nailed it.

Whatever Biden says to rebut Ryan, he is of all four candidates the most personable to people outside of the Beltway. What are called gaffes inside the Beltway are often regarded as authentic outside of it.

And when Biden delivers lines like the one from his DNC (after 9:00 in the video)…

My dad never failed to remind us that a job is a about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and saying ‘honey, it’s going to be okay.’

… He credibly addresses men and women who otherwise aren’t being spoken to in this election.

If Joe Biden is an angry old man, he’s a lot like the angry old men who will swing this election.

The Town Hall where the questions voters want answered finally get asked

Then there’s the Town Hall debate, where real people rather than a crusty old PBS host get to ask the questions. Chait thinks Obama will fail here because he’ll spend time filleting Mitt rather than answering questions.

Obama’s campaign is talking up its planto roll out a new, tougher Obama who will challenge Romney’s slick evasions. But a town-hall meeting is a whole different animal. In a one-on-one debate, you can fillet your opponent. A town-hall meeting consists of undecided voters pressing the candidates for answers. The focus of the event is on answering the questions of the voters. Using their questions to assail your opponent is bad form — indeed, the Regular Voters who ask the questions, and serve as proxies for the public, can be counted on to implore the candidates to stop attacking each other so much.

But one of the problems with the last debate was precisely in the stupid choice of questions Jim Lehrer asked. Lehrer’s jobs question turned into a tax discussion. He didn’t ask a single question about women’s issues. And his ObamaCare question avoided questions about the substance of the policy as distinct from setting up contrast between identical programs.

I would expect that the questions from real people will be far more favorable to Obama because the things voters care about provide Obama to describe where he has been successful and where the guy who brags about creating $9/hour jobs he admits don’t pay the bills tends to fail.

Plus, some of Mitt’s biggest campaign gaffes have come when he responded to regular questions with douchbag answers–the “corporations are people” problem. Obama may be standoffish, but Mitt is standoffish and tone deaf when speaking with real people. And that, too, should serve Obama.

Debating RomneyShambles

Then there’s the foreign policy debate, an area where even Republicans recognize Mitt’s weaknesses. Chait thinks this will go badly because it won’t provide Obama an opportunity to talk about domestic issues.

And then the final debate centers on foreign policy. Obama can try to use some of the questions to turn to domestic policy, but that risks a scolding from host Bob Schieffer.

But unless Mitt pulls another total Etch-a-Sketch–even from the content of his speech today–he’s going to say really stupid things, such as playing up Russia as our worst enemy.

More importantly, just about every foreign policy–except torture–that Mitt aggressively embraces is unpopular with voters. Mitt almost certainly will call for starting a new war, while Obama will claim (not entirely credibly) to have ended two wars. Even on trade, where Obama’s championing of three new trade deals, Mitt could tack left of Obama, he has chosen instead to accuse Obama of not supporting free trade.

The NYT suggested today that Obama let his disdain for Romney overwhelm his

Mr. Obama made clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain. It was something to endure, rather than an opportunity, aides said.

If the sulky Obama that resulted shows up at the last two debates, he may well lose those, too, just as badly as the first.

But there’s no reason to believe that’s baked into the upcoming debate formats.