Should Biden Debate Trump?

For background, see

“Biden’s Challenge: How do you campaign against a fascist liar?” The Trenchant Observer, August 29, 2020.

Should Biden debate Trump?

It would seem obvious that there is no point in debating a fascist liar. The whole point of any debate is to listen to opposing points of view in order to ascertain the truth. Why should a known LIAR (capital case) be given a platform to spread his lies further, and to try to gain an advantage over his opponent by some non-rational means?

Why should Biden fall for this trap?

The first problem is that Biden, like all politicians, has an ego, and he most probably believes he could beat Trump in a debate. In a debate based on reason, he undoubtedly could. But any debate with Trump will certainly not be based on reason.

Biden may think he can immediately refute Trump’s lies with reason and facts.

But any debate would be about propaganda and spectacle. Biden’s reasoned comments and answers could easily backfire on that battleground.

Trump is the more skilled master of TV spectacle. One might argue that Biden should avoid a duel of TV spectacle. In explaining his decision, he could set forth a short list of the biggest lies Trump has told and is telling. That could get him more viewers and future voters than any “mano a mano” (hand-to-hand combat) with Trump could ever produce.

Moreover, if Biden were to withdraw from the debates, Trump would undoubtedly attack him as a coward.

On the other hand, the debates offer Biden a chance to reach a huge audience which includes Trump supporters and those leaning toward Trump or simply “undecided”.

The Biden-Trump debates would afford viewers a chance to compare the two presidential candidates, side by side, and to reflect on which of the two men they want to lead the country.

There are strong arguments for and against the Biden-Trump debates. Biden has been making good decisions. On balance, we should defer to and support his decision.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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