One More Blow to the Traditions of Democracy


Some takeaways from the debate debacle:

  1. Trump sees red when it’s Chris Wallace asking him questions, fuming at a FOX betrayal. So he spent more time debating the moderator than Biden, even becoming the moderator and asking Biden questions. He ended up looking like a red-faced sideline coach who couldn’t stand the referee and wanted to get thrown out of the game to motivate his troops. Wallace did less well against the onslaught than Biden. Secret strategy: beat up on the media, even if it’s FOX, to rally the media-hating Trumpers.
  2. Team Trump probably devised the only strategy that would work with this Alpha Male: let Trump prance, invent, interrupt, defame and see if it goads Biden into a gaffe or looking lame. Didn’t work, but what other strategy do you think Trump would have followed? Another problem: the debate was so bad that much of the audience drifted away or drifted off. So Trump couldn’t woo new voters, but Biden also was denied attention to his programs and promises.
  3. Trump’s way of extending his media monopolizing is to deny the next day that he said what he said. Let the stations play the tapes, and keep the issue alive. Lay into the media for persecuting the president. Use the next-day leads to unload some new attacks on Biden and family.
  4. The debate organizers are way out of date, so cancelling the future debates or activating a kill-switch on the microphones is unlikely. Biden should refuse, but that makes him look timid. Once again, Trump shows his amazing ability to put opponents on the spot.
  5. I think a single moderator is a mistake. Helpful to shift to another one when things get stuck. A single moderator can become the focus of debate. This debate will be remembered as Trump v. Wallace. That takes the focus away from Biden’s message and (as usual) makes the evening All About Trump. That’s a mistake, since Trump is trying to make it a choice election (Trump or Biden) not about Trump’s performance and personality. If a president does a poor job and the reelection becomes a question of Would Your Hire This Man for a New Term? it’s over.
  6. Putin must be pleased, since the sorry spectacle was one more blow to the traditions of democracy. Trump is a barbarian, skilled only at destruction. His inaugural speech, trashing all those mystic chords of memory, was the only thing I know worse than his rendering absurd the customs of serious debate. He came across as a Tweet-Troll, which at least is what he really is. Maybe the man (or his handlers) wants to lose? At any rate this was like watching a political suicide — live and in front of 100 million viewers. Go ahead, officer, shoot me!
David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.


  1. I don’t believe Trump wants to lose. As much as he is overwhelmed by the job, he is delusional enough to believe he is the needed salvation of ‘his people.’ He put the white supremacist Proud Boys on notice to ‘stand by’ — for the civil war he would ignite when he loses.

  2. I agree that Trump does not consciously want to lose. But I have watched politicians over the years who subconsciously sabotage their chances as a way to escape from a job they (or their family) really don’t want, but for whom resignation seems too painful. Still, just a hunch.

  3. Excellent point about the sole moderator format. It didn’t work. It made Wallace a too easy target for Trump. But I’m not sure a panel of journalists could have done any better at controlling the mayhem purposely created by Trump. He would try to play them off against each other and find other ways to do anything he can to keep the spotlight.
    So yes, bottom line, we are all talking the day after about Trump. It may be negative talk, but it still keeps him front and center and overshadows Biden. What are your thoughts on the day after coverage? Too focused on Trump, or not?


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