I was thinking this morning that at least we’re past the debates, but I know a lot of people may still be confronted with gubernatorial and senatorial debates. But, really, who needs them now? Do you not know who you are voting for? If not, you learn more about the candidates’ positions on issues by going to their websites, anyway. The debates are just theater.
I’m seeing a lot of commentaries that say last night’s debate was more “substantive” than the first one. But I wouldn’t call last night’s debate “substantive” at all. It was still just sound bytes and too many claims left unchallenged. And while people are tripping all over themselves praising moderator Kristen Welker, I’d give her a C+, B at most. She was better than Chris Wallace or Susan Page, at least.
I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, I hope that before we have another presidential election, the parties, the debate commission (if it isn’t disbanded), and the networks need to work out an entirely different kind of debate structure that slows down the pace, allows for more time to answer questions in depth, allows more time for challenges of factual claims, and includes robust use of mic cuts.
The fact-check thing remains a problem. Today nearly every newspaper and media outlet has a big honking fact check of the debate that takes everything Trump said last night apart. But most voters are not going to read those fact checks. If it’s not on the teevee, they don’t see it.
However, it’s also the case that lies don’t necessarily work. Some of the claims Trump made about Biden taking millions of dollars from foreign governments were new to me — I take it this stuff is from the right-wing media echo chamber — and I question whether independent viewers who don’t soak their heads in Breitbart and RedState found it credible. See also Trump’s sideshow fizzles out by Ryan Lizza at Politico.
I also doubt anyone but die-hard Trump groupies believe Trump’s promises that the pandemic is almost gone and he’ll have a great new health care plan any minute now.
Oh, and is New York City really a ghost town? Check out the live cams of Times Square and judge for yourself. Times Square has been more crowded, certainly, but that’s not a ghost town.
Regarding the pandemic, it’s possible Trump really doesn’t know that it’s hitting some rural, red-state areas especially hard right now. But the virus is everywhere now, in red states and blue. It’s not confined to one or two hot spots. I looked up states with the highest positivity rates — the top ten right now are South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa (22.3), Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Alabama, Mississippi, and Utah. And South Dakota’s rate is a whopping 35.2, which I understand may be the highest on the planet. States with the lowest rates, from lowest to highest, are Maine (0.6), Massachusetts, New York (1.3), Washington DC, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, and Rhode Island (2.4). However, cases are increasing in some of those states. Cases are increasing pretty much everywhere, I understand.
My point is that the American people are not always as stupid as we seem. U.S. politicians can easily get away with lying about stuff going on elsewhere, but when they lie about things going on in people’s real-world lives, at least some of us catch on. Anywhere you live, the local news is telling you how many new cases are in your county, and if the hospitals are full, and how many people have died.
There’s also a story at Politico that says the early voting in battleground states is overwhelmingly Democratic.
Democrats have opened up a yawning gap in early voting over Republicans in six of the most crucial battleground states — but that only begins to tell the story of their advantage heading into Election Day.
In a more worrisome sign for Republicans, Democrats are also turning out more low-frequency and newly registered voters than the GOP, according to internal data shared with POLITICO by Hawkfish, a new Democratic research firm, which was reviewed by Republicans and independent experts.
Apparently Trump supporters are waiting until election day to vote. How many of them are going to test positive between now and then? Wisconsin, Florida, and Pennsylvania aren’t the worst states, but they all have positivity rates above 10. The pandemic could end up suppressing Trump votes.
That said, I doubt that last debate will make any difference or change any minds, which in effect makes it a Biden win. We’ll see if the polls budge in the next two or three days.
There is one more big televised campaign event, which will be the October 18 edition of 60 Minutes on CBS. “The Republican and Democratic candidates for president take questions from Lesley Stahl and Norah O’Donnell, next Sunday,” the promo says. That’s the interview Trump ended abruptly because Lesley Stahl reminded him that he is the president. How dare she! But everything I’ve heard about the interview says it makes Trump look very, very bad. I’ve neard nothing about the Biden interview.
I saw a meme this morning that said, “Let’s simplify this … vote for the guy you’d trust to watch your dog for a week.” So, bottom line: When you pick the dog up from the Biden’s, he’d be fine and probably have a couple of new chew toys. When you pick the dog up from the Trump’s, they will have gone off to one of their other properties, the dog will be missing, and no one on the staff will know who you are and that you’d left a dog.
Stuff to Read
Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly, Fox News May Be Heading Towards an Epic Election-Night Showdown
Greg Sargent, Washington Post, Trump is drowning in his own lies. Here are the latest signs of it.
Paul Krugman, New York Times, How Many Americans Will Ayn Rand Kill?
Thomas Wright, The Atlantic, Real Problems Do Not Exist for Trump
David Frum, The Atlantic, Trump Doesn’t Care
Frank Bruni, New York Times, That’s the Last We Need to Hear From Trump
Update: A couple more – –
Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker, The Republican Identity Crisis
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Trump’s Three Fatal Flaws