In Debate, Both Sides Urge Invisibility

Thursday, June 27, 2024

It speaks volumes that both parties agree that the best strategy in tonight's presidential "debate" for their respective champions is to cause the audience to focus on the other candidate.

The Democrats suggest as much and even praise the Biden campaign for holding the first of these circuses early so as to allow recovery time in the event of a tumble.

Sez Walter Shapiro of The New Republic:

... The trick for Biden -- and I am not certain that the president can pull it off -- would be to let Trump snarl and sputter without sinking to his level.

Democrats should realize that Biden wins the debate if he comes across as competent, even if he is a bit boring. This is not a debate that requires clever zingers and rehearsed put-downs. What the voters want from the president is not a level of that charisma that is beyond his capabilities, but rather the reassuring sense that a caring adult is in charge of the government.
Another Shapiro, Ben, offers the same advice to Trump (whom he also advises to cool down already about the "stolen" 2020 election) in a piece at Jewish World Review:
An evening of this guy talking to the biggest idiot in the room? No thanks! (Morph via FaceShape from pubic domain official portraits of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.)
Keeping the focus on Biden will be key. If asked about Jan. 6 -- which he surely will be -- Trump should respond, "Joe, you've said I'm a threat to democracy because I don't believe I lost the 2020 election. Well, Hillary Clinton doesn't believe she lost the 2016 election, and that's apparently just fine. In reality, you're the threat to democracy: you've sicced your political allies on me in the courts, used OSHA to try to mandate vaccines for 80 million Americans, violated the Constitution to try to let people skate on their student loan debt, and violated your Constitutional oath by keeping the border open and letting through 7 million illegal immigrants. Americans care less about Jan. 6, 2021, than Nov. 5, 2024."
Shapiro mentions some of Biden's unpopular policies -- while conveniently ignoring that many of each candidate's policies are quite similar to each other -- as the means of keeping the focus on Biden.

This is interesting and blatantly contradicts Hillary Clinton's advice to Biden to the effect that he should use the debates to tell a story Americans can remember as a reason to vote for him.

When I first considered Clinton's advice, I thought it was pretty good -- until I realized it would require the spin of a category 5 hurricane to frame Biden's policies as constructive in a way that would convince centrist voters he deserves a positive embrace.

Clinton's advice is N/A because she is speaking to someone the core support of each party rejected very early in primary season.

Ditto for Trump's tariffs, his embrace of Christian nationalism, and his evisceration of abortion rights.

Yeah. Better listen to Shapiro, both of you.

I find it interesting that this debate advice more closely resembles a joking remark made by someone bloodied in a fist fight than advice for someone asking us to represent us as our champion.

Given this bipartisan confession of nothing to see here, it amazes me that anyone will watch at all.

-- CAV

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