Shall we discuss the debate question?

By Dvitale300, a Trail Mix Contributor

I’ve seen lots of posts and comments about whether or not Clinton should debate Trump.  Now, the common wisdom is that if a candidate is really ahead – they should avoid / diminish the number of debates.  After all, if you are going to win – there’s no upside to debating – only a downside – let’s say you curse at your opponent, or compare yourself to Kennedy, or perhaps misspeak about what territory Russia is controlling!

podiumFearless leader says Clinton should not debate Trump.  I’m leaning in that direction.  I thoroughly believe that the media (whatever that means) is not interested in a debate, a discussion of contrasting ideas on how to solve such major issues like immigration reform, crime in cities, overpopulated prisons, foreign trade agreements, etc. . .  Instead, a media faced with the possibility of an electorate bored with a foregone conclusion, is focused on instigating a cage fight between two septuagenarians.  We won’t see questions about how the United States should handle Syrian refugees, but rather we will see questions about who is the biggest bigot.

In an interesting post, Steve McQuinn from Quora, gives his sage advice to Clinton as to how she should approach the Presidential debates:

“My advice to Hillary:

  1. Do not ever engage Trump directly in verbal exchange, do not respond directly to his provocations. A debate is not a dialog. A shouting match of zingers and putdowns will only depress the turnout.

  2. Keep nonverbal reactions to Trump very subtle and mild. Don’t roll your eyes, just raise your eyebrows. Don’t laugh out loud, just smile wryly. Respond to Trump’s style with a deconstruction of his demagoguery, directed at the audience in terms that show Trump is disrespecting the audience.

  3. Respond to Trump’s misstatements with simple, informative corrections that not only set the record straight, they educate the audience without being condescending. Use down to earth metaphors, analogies, and stories about real people.

  4. Always speak to the audience, not to the moderators, who are mostly interested in provoking spectacle. Everything uttered should be couched as values that serve people. Everything should be a positive assertion of faith in the best of human nature.

  5. When in doubt about how to conduct yourself, ask yourself, “What would Elizabeth Warren do?”

So what say ye Trail Mixers?  Should Clinton debate or not – and what should the strategy be if she decides to?

More Posts by Dvitale300


94 thoughts on “Shall we discuss the debate question?”

  1. debate the debate?

    dv, good thread topic.  one of the “depends” (apropos for the septuagenarians) is who is sponsoring and moderating?  very different scenario if it’s the league of women voters with an old fashioned staid set of rules….no flash, no fun…. or if it’s pundits pleasure palace gone wild.

    another “depends” could and maybe should be a prerequisite that he release his tax records so that it’s a more level playing field.

    note: one never has enough “depends” in tough times.

  2. NO ! There have already been too many ‘debates’.


    In fact, take ten or twelve of them back for refunds. 

  3. “In fact, take ten or twelve of them back for refunds.”

    xrepublican …. your remark makes me think of Kramer & Newman driving to Michigan in the purloined mail truck … now THAT worked out well.

    This whole electoral cycle is either the worst written reality sitcom or the very, very best. Take your pick. Bizarro world version 2016.

  4. so, xr and dv, perhaps our debate today not only is about “whether or not Clinton should debate Trump” but also “to have or not have debates” ever again. what’s evolved aren’t really debates anyway…. just another stage or cage to put the political animals on or in and watch them perform.  step right up folks, see the donkey fight the elephant!  watch the media ringmaster put them thru their paces, snapping his whip whipping up excitement!

  5. huffpo:
    The 8 Unanswered Questions About The Upcoming Presidential Debates
    They’re the next big event on the 2016 calendar, and we’re more uncertain than ever about what might happen.

  6. the week: Joe Scarborough gives Donald Trump a brutal nickname — and it’s sticking


    “A lot of people are calling him Amnesty Don. People are saying it,” Scarborough said Monday. “They’re calling him Amnesty Don. Amnesty Don, that’s what people are calling him, I’m not calling him that. Amnesty Don. Hashtag Amnesty Don. For 14 months, Amnesty Don has been putting illegal immigration at the center of Amnesty Don’s campaign… And, yet, nobody in Amnesty Don’s own campaign can tell you what Amnesty Don’s position is after Amnesty Don won the primaries promising to deport 11 [million illegal immigrants].”

    While “Amnesty Don” might not have the same supervillain-like appeal as “Crooked Hillary Clinton,” it is a rather brutal mocking of Trump’s latest flip-flop.


    #AmnestyDon is the #1 trending topic on Twitter right now.

    7:23 AM – 29 Aug 2016

  7. Donald Trump’s Bigotry
    By Charles Blow

    A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that 59 percent of likely voters, and 29 percent of likely Republican voters in particular, think that the way Trump talks appeals to bigotry. Republicans were the only anomaly. A majority or plurality of every other demographic measured — Democrats, independents, men, women, white people with and without college degrees, every age group, whites and nonwhites alike — agreed that Trump’s words appeal to bigotry.
    But there is one demographic that must be particularly concerning to Trump: college-educated whites.
    I know that Trump has boasted that he loves the poorly educated, but there appears to be little love lost between him and those white people with degrees. In fact, as the blog FiveThirtyEight predicted in July, “Trump may become the first Republican in 60 years to lose white college graduates.”

  8. While I feel debates can be useful for voters to get a look at candidates, if Hillary debates trump, I think she should follow the guidelines of writer Steve McQuinn to keep debates as professional as possible and not fall prey to trump’S tactics   However, I agree with pats’S comment, “do we need to have debates at all”?  With social media, 24/7 cable news & politics, why do we need more debates?

  9. The debates have become a three ring circus, and a poor one at that. Just smile and pass.

    Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake(s)

  10. As I’ve already said…  debates…  no way.  They have become nothing but fodder for the media and entertainment for political junkies, IMO.  If they happen will I tune in….  of course.  I think Steve McQuinn gives Hillary sage advice if they do happen.

  11. there was something calmer and more civilized in the “debates” seated round a table (or coffee table) with candidates more or less conversing with the moderator and between (or among if it’s more than 2) themselves.

    the host should be more an assistor, a facilitator of conversation, an introducer of topics as well as a time and peace keeper.


  12. kgc, that’s an idea.  since the debates have degenerated into figurative food fights, why not do it literally?  they’re held now only for entertainment and media moneymaker purposes, not for substance.  so dress the candidates up in hazmat suits and let ’em have at it with rotten tomatoes, cream pies, squirt guns, rubber chickens, clown bats, silly string spray and cans of whipped cream.  who ever can maintain dignity as well as agility wins.

    the finale can be letting the candidates turn on the moderator host and sponsor

  13. Although that would be a real gas, it generates visions of our friend who decided to take a ride in a tank.

  14. ahh but, flatus, it would be so much fun to see the finale when the candidates turn on the media and the audience. sorta like this classic scene

  15. Or she should carry a light saber.  She should open her statement by quoting Joni Ernst about how the candidates should discuss the issues

    When Arnold” one of the worst elected officials and human beings ever” Schwarzenegger debated (sic)  he only had one liners written on his palm  but the media loved it and declared him the winner

    Clinton needs the debate to be on her terms



  16. Pat

    Perhaps you saw the page one story in the Journal about corporate ‘rage rooms’ where employees can take it out on recalcitrant office equipment? Surely we’re entitled to some sort of equivalent cathartic experience.

  17. I want to reserve my opinion on future debates after the Commander in Chief debate next week on MSNBC. It will be the first face to face discussion on one topic. If it goes well, let’s have more. If not, one or both should walk. While it is difficult for me to understand, there are stats that show a huge percentage of undecideds out there. I would like to think that we as a people still have an obligation to inform the under informed and educate the low politically educated by more than just main stream media, talk radio and tv, and pundits. Since most voters get their news through tv, still, let’s use the medium to its fullest.

  18. 1. I repeat. No debate is needed.

    2. The nation deserves apologies from Amnesty don and r.n.c. prebuscus for trivializing the election and the office.

    3. There should not be a debate until deadbeat donald opens his tax returns to public scrutiny. There is no sense in no talking until we know just who IS talking.

  19. eprof, but how about those under informed and politically uneducated who don’t have cable or are rural and can’t get satellite signal?  at least when this whole meshuggeneh started it was carried simultaneously on all broadcasting stations and it was free.  now most of those eligible voters who could watch don’t and the only way they know what happened is what the pundits tell them happened and who was the “winner”

  20. I like the directions on how Hillary should handle Donald in a debate and really think a debate has to take place.  Of course my favorite tweet of the day probably says it all:

    A thoroughbred running circles around a braying ass does not qualify as a “race.”

    If she avoids the debate it will be a barrage of “Hillary running scared” whereas, “anytime anywhere words at 20 paces bring your ‘Best Words’ ” challenge to get it on will make him look like the offensive ignorant sniveling little coward he is.


  21. Prof, speaking of difficult to understand statistics, I’ve looked at the actuarial tables supplied by the the SS Administration. Putting their figures in the most self serving light, based on both individuals becoming president at age 70 (with a DOB of 1 Jan) Trump’s probability of dying during an 8-yr term in office is about 50-% higher than that of Hillary facing her demise.

    What are the implications for continuity of command? Especially if Trump’s attitude towards policy is to wing it. What guidance does that leave his successor? Think of HST who was largely ignorant of happenings. He decisively ended the war against Japan. What if there were other options of which he was unaware?

  22. Agreed, Patd. Reaching everyone is impossible. But, I would rather try than just give up. There will be a large percentage who have the latest technology and still rather watch wrestling. Voting stats in this country are at all time lows.  More like half of eligible voters sat out the last two national elections, 2012 and 2014. You can only take a horse to water but you can’t make them drink in the American democracy. Sad, but true.

  23. daily mail:
    Trump feud with ‘Morning Joe’ boils over as co-host says it’s time for a psychiatrist to decide what’s wrong with the Republican presidential nominee

    ‘Morning Joe’ co-host Mika Brzezinski said Monday that Donald Trump is so out of control that a psychiatrist should be consulted
    Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough bantered about whether Trump is a psychopath or a sociopath
    The show has engaged in a months-long feud with the Republican presidential nominee
    ‘When you see someone who you think has problems, you know it,’ said Brzezinski, whom Trump has slammed on Twitter as ‘neurotic’

  24. You want to be led by someone who runs from a fight?   well yes.


    And you go Colin Kaepernick  – isn’t he like Mohammed Ali

  25. There seems to be trouble at the Presidential Debate Commission with choosing moderators. They’ve postponed announcing them until next week, which means the first one will only have 3 weeks to prepare. This is unusual.

  26. As someone  who worked with people to avoid the draft (with the American Friends Service Committee) I have no problems with draft dodgers


    And I should say I have no problem running from a fight where there is nothing to be gained for me or anyone else

  27. ah, this explains it, CNN:

    “The delay is due in part to an unprecedented challenge the bipartisan Commission faces in selecting individuals who are immune (or at least as immune as possible) to accusations of bias. While that is always a concern for the Commission, the sources said it is more challenging than ever this time around due to one factor: Donald Trump. The last thing the Commission wants is for the moderator to become part of the story about a debate. Yet Trump’s aggressive attacks on the media and complaints about unfair treatment have effectively guaranteed that the moderators will come under scrutiny from conservatives.”

  28. I don’t see why the moderators must come from the media. I’d widen the scope for moderators from other walks of life. Never much cared for journalists doing it anyway, inevitably makes them part of a story they should only be covering.

  29. I’m sure while in Vietnam and during the Pueblo Crisis, I served with other draftees who were called-up to take the place of those who declined to serve. I hope those on both sides of the equation are alive and well and proud of themselves.

  30. For Trump, the accusation of racist is very damaging forClinton it is unbelievable and now the Hypocrite party after having raised the issue is now suggesting a better tone is in order.


    Calling Trump a racist is the truth — if you have a more polite way of saying it speak up.

  31. “Never much cared for journalists doing it anyway, inevitably makes them part of a story they should only be covering”


  32. Dr. Larry Sabato would be very good and there are probably others in the academic community.

    National President of the League of Women Voters

    Brian Roberts of Comcast or Jeff Bezos

    Oprah (kidding)

    Carly Fiorina

  33. A _very_ dismal look at the future of Florida’s orange industry in today’s WSJ. pg C1

  34. patd, Depends is more than one Depend.  And you are exactly right – the debate will be a debate or a shitfight depending on who moderates and how.  KC, good ideas about moderators – Sabato is pretty sharp.  Gotta agree with Poobah – prolly shouldn’t be newsies moderating debates – like Craig said, puts them in the middle of the story they should only be covering.

  35. I am really sick and tired of people saying both candidates are equally horrible choices, how much America thoroughly hates both of them to the core, that there’s not a single positive trait in either one of them and wow, if only we had voted for that guy behind the deli counter or the neighbor’s cat, America would be WAY better off.
    Fuck you. Fuck the deli guy and fuck your neighbor’s cat.
    There are only 2 candidates who stand any mathematical chance of prevailing in this year’s election and one of them is, in fact, eminently qualified to become the 45th President of the United States, perhaps more so than any of the other 44 previous office holders. She (that’s right…SHE) has been dedicated to public service in one capacity or another since 1971.  Her accomplishments are tremendous. To name a few (edited from the list once provided by Daily Kos for space):
    read the rest

  36. Well, if it’s Monday, we need some numbers.  At realclearpolitics her lead is 4.4.  That’s down a bit.  At 538 her chances of winning are between 74 and 78.8%, and the polls only number is the highest of the bunch.


    “Promoted nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses” – from Kos link, above

    That’s an accomplishment?

  38. Given the anti-vax’ers yes.   And to the maroons who still think vaccinations cause diseases  you are too stupid to live and obviously you should be sterilized so you don’t have kids who you clearly would allow to die.

  39. Just found out that Rip Radcliffe – my poly-sci teacher in college – isn’t still alive, but if he were he’d be the nuts. Damn. Guy was smart as hell and a huge skeptic.

  40. In the dead but would have been great  Lee Dreyfuss  college professor at UW Madison and chancellor at U W Stevens Point

    Still alive Melissa Harris Perry

  41. How about this – Robert Reich and Paul O’Neill – they could argue about questions and answers on the economy – trumpf and hillary wouldn’t have to say a thing.

  42. so no one challenged or challengeable of bias by drumpf can moderate?  in addition to anyone connected to the media that leaves out a priest (given what he said about the pope being a christian), a judge (heritage questionable), anyone who ever served in government (stupid), an hispanic-/asian-/or african-american (due to latest polls), any connection to china (job stealers), an lgtbq or a woman (duh).  that leaves only his children meeting that qualification.

    forego the moderator, write questions on ping pong balls drawn by a lotto machine and read by siri. like a gong show have loud buzzer or drop trap door for going over time.

  43. There are time to use the prevent defense and there are times not to do so.

    But, when you are ahead by 4 points and you are still in the first half?

    (it’s not even labor day yet folks)

    Yes , it is risky but it may be the only time Clinton has a chance to get the attention of swing voters to make a positive case for herself. I’ve not seen her making a positive case she needs to be doing it to finish the sell from all of her negative  Trump ads.



  44. some very good moderator choices there. for what it’s worth the commission’s reasoning on only picking TV anchors is that the mechanics of doing a live broadcast with close to 100 million viewers globally is not for those who are not familiar with or at least mostly comfortable with the realities of live broadcasts. Still, I’d sacrifice mechanics for some creative choices.

  45. Do all the debates town hall style with the moderator being one of 4 College professor types 2 hours and each professor gets 30 minutes . Each 30 minute session shall be about one subject  that pertains to the topic of the night. The Professors shall be chosenat random from a compiled list and shall  from 4 different areas of the country They shall be teaching a full load and have at least one class about the topic of the night. The students of the that class shall make up the audience  and are the only ones who can ask questions. This is to hold down on the pompous “I’m smarter than the world Questions”





  46. For foreign policy night create a panel of former National security advisor from both parties.


  47. Bink

    Yes being in favor of vaccinations for children was an accomplishment at the time.  She was fighting tooth and nail for health care and finally got SChip passed.  You can’t vaccinate your child if you don’t have a way to get it done.


  48. Charles Bierbauer. Excellent choice, Flatus. Academic and tv journalist when that meant something.

  49. jack, nahh, they only show the evening gown parade.  let’s get down to the nitty gritty. transparency.  who’s got the girdle on, the shoulder paddings?

    wondered about those little hands of his. I bet there’s really a little guy inside an ironman suit made in hong kong specially to make him look bigger.  probably also reason why he teases his hair for height… suspect lifts in his shoes too.

  50. OK, how about Charles Ogletree?  He was absolutely fabulous on PBS’ Ethics in America. Before it became sacreligious to speak ill of him, Ogletree just fricking dismantled Antonin Scalia on one episode.

  51. Given that the Debate Commission will almost certainly pick TV anchors who are as neutral as possible, who might that be? Also, they only use a single moderator. They also have a tendency to choose major network or PBS folks, not cable personalities.

  52. Joni Ernst better talk to Mark Burns he tweeted a picture of Hillary Clinton in black face


  53. Why should  Clinton have a press conference with a dishonest media there is nothing in it for her

  54. Hillary has a good strong healthy laugh.

    There’s bound to be some point in a debate with trumpeldicklet where Hillary would have to fight the urge to really give out a good horse laugh……..she might oughta use it judiciously.

    i mean…’s gonna be hard not to laugh at Mr Trump as a presidential candidate.

    thats just the way it is……with all due respect to the man for whatever he is, what he ain’t is in the same league as the Clintons, Carville, Biden, Warren, and Obama.


  55. The condom is on all due respect and they are giving her a hand job

    Every word out of her mouth is a lie and yet not called on anything she refuses to talk about the horrible things Trump says and pretends he is someone who is totally made up by her

  56. Read Sarah Palin’s Bizarre Screed On Hillary Clinton’s Health
    Lauren Fox

    In a peculiar Facebook post, Sarah Palin posted graphic photos of her own running accident and mocked people who believe attacks against Hillary Clinton’s health are sexist.

    “Leave Hillary Alone, Bullies,” Palin wrote. “Aww, c’mon guys, give her a break. Anyone can be out of commission…. for weeks on end… whilst in the heat of battle for the highest office in the land. No press conferences for nearly a year? No scheduled campaign events for days upon days? No statements, no answers, no accountability, no problem. Layin’ low to run out the clock before November, but you’re SEXIST for noticing it.”
    The post went on to attack the media for allegedly having a double standard.
    “Good thing media didn’t hound the crap out of ’08 candidate John McCain for his decades-old military medical records or I’d guess them to be hypocrites,” Palin wrote. “Leave Hillary alone! All that email-evidenced yoga, and wedding planning, and cookie-baking-grandma-duty wears you out. Believe you me.”

  57. I oppose a ‘debate’. 

    However, if we have to be subjected to another disgusting spectacle, I’d pick the following moderators

    1. Robin Wright for foreign affairs  2. David A. Brancaccio for domestic affairs


  58. If we are to have the factota that the public really loves and trusts, then the obvious choices are Yoda and Marge Simpson.

  59. I still push for robin macneil (of the pbs macneil Lehrer fame).  for one thing is Canadian…. well Canadian American now….with all the good things that bring to mind.   course being an immigrant could be seen by the drumpf as a possible biased draw back.  he is the epitome of fairness in his delivery, calming attitude and gentlemanly on air behavior.

    one of his best reports below show how adept he is with recalcitrant interviewees

  60. My understanding of the “Commander in Chief” forum is they are not face to face but one after the other.

    It’s with Veterans I’m not sure about active duty personnel.

    But this is a good chance for her to set some standards for future debates

    Privatization should come up

  61. So who says anyone who moderates the debates should me amorphous?  Such a person does not exist – specially when you have a nut-ball like Trump in the contest.  Jim Lehrer comes to mind – but he’s not available.  I would shy away from someone from the MSM – as there’s too much at stake re ratings and career advancement.  Fred McFeely Rogers is dead, Capt’n Kangaroo is dead, perchance could we create a ‘moderatorless’ debate?  Do some kind of hunger games thing – where the questions are spit at the candidates from a pneumatic tube?

    Clinton releases her medical records (full thing) tomorrow, followed by a statement that she will not even entertain debate negotiations until Trump releases his (and of course, his tax returns)!

  62. Trump had moved up in the polls ..the race is not tightening, however.

    And now he has started  to drop again

    His next show will be the biggest loser

Comments are closed.