The 2020 presidential election won’t be remembered for its lucid debate and elevated discourse. The candidates themselves bear part of the blame, but the Commission on Presidential Debates hasn’t helped.
We argued on Oct. 17 that the commission has outlived its usefulness (see the response nearby from commission board member Newton Minow). Debate moderators’ longwinded and leftward-slating questions make the show about the moderators themselves and leave viewers none the wiser.
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The next debate, scheduled for Thursday night at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., also isn’t promising based on the subjects the commission says will be covered: fighting Covid-19, race in America, climate change, American families, national security, leadership. The first two were part of the first presidential and vice presidential debates. Climate change is loaded with progressive assumptions (how will you raise taxes, further empower the federal government, and generally do what Democrats want to do anyway?).
We’re not sure what “American families” and “leadership” might entail, but why should a commission get to decide what subjects are crucial to debate and the public to hear?
It’s especially outrageous to limit national security—we assume that means foreign policy—to one sixth of one debate. President Trump has a reasonable case that his Administration has achieved a major breakthrough between Gulf Arab nations and Israel, brought about by rejecting the foreign-policy establishment’s consensus opinions. The Trump Administration defenestrated consensus opinion by moving the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and leaving the Iran nuclear deal. The dire consequences predicted by think-tank poobahs never came about.
Also worth discussion: The President’s sometimes bizarre negotiations with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the discordance between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his policies on Russia, the results of his mercurial attitudes toward our NATO allies, and his trade negotiations with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The second presidential debate was canceled, largely owing to the high-handedness of the commission, so it appears a dangerous world will get a mere 15 minutes of discussion.
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