The next presidential debate is to be in Miami, a week from today, which raises the obvious two questions; will the debate rules be changed, and will the debate happen at all if the president remains infected with the coronavirus.

President Trump insists he will be there, following the same bravado that, upon his return to the White House, compelled him to walk out on the Truman Balcony, take off his mask and wave to the American public, as if to say I’m here, your leader is safe, all is well. We have half-expected him to break out into a chorus of Evita’s “Don’t cry for me Argentina”, now, THAT would have been funny.

Mr. Biden says he will be there as well, although he’s said the debate should not happen if the president is still infectious.

Neither candidate can be seen as the person who backs down. And it’s important to have debates between the candidates. It’s a vital part of the choice-making process that keeps us in touch with our would-be leaders.

But, as the first debate showed, the American public has no appetite for a repeat of the first debate which was nothing but ugly, to its core. The expectation was that the Commission on Presidential Debates would heed the public’s demands and change the rules before next Wednesday’s debate.

That has yet to happen. The Trump campaign has mounted its own effort to keep the rules the way they are. The thought is that Mr. Trump does better in a free-for-all than when he has to abide by the rules.

Mr. Trump and his team must be looking at polls separate from what the public sees. Nowhere has there been any evidence the debate helped Mr. Trump. Almost all polls show the opposite.

The only takeaway is that Mr. Trump would not change his behavior, that he would act in Miami as he did in Cleveland.

If so, perhaps Mr. Biden should agree and spend a little time polishing his own responses and not taking Trump’s bait.

But the debates are not about the candidates, they are for, and about, us. The debate in Miami should happen, but the debate needs changing. It’s essential the moderator have the ability to control the microphones of both candidates. If either interrupts, the moderator has the ability to mute the candidate’s mike. Period. No apologies.

Would Mr. Trump and his team refuse to debate? That would be hard to imagine. It would be seen as weakness. And what would they object to, not being able to interrupt?

Mr. Biden’s claim that the debate should not happen if the president is infectious is also wrong. The president can obviously communicate and if he can stand out on the Truman Balcony to take accolades, then he can stand on a stage and take questions. He just doesn’t have to be on the same stage.

It’s the 21st century. It’s 2020 and the year of communicating remotely. It’s child’s play to set up a virtual debate that Americans might not find as “entertaining” but would find more informative by an order of magnitude.

To the Commission of Presidential Debates: Get it done.

by Emerson Lynn

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