The next debate on the schedule is between the vice-presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Mike Pence to be held on October 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Usually the vice-presidential debate does not generate much excitement (with the possible exception of 2008 when Sarah Palin was debating Joe Biden and people wanted to see if she knew where Europe was) but given the utter disaster of the first presidential debate and no indication that Trump will behave any better in the next two presidential debates, this one might be the only chance to have anything approaching a substantive discussion of the issues. Harris is sharp and aggressive and quick on her feet and it will be interesting to see how Pence will defend his indefensible boss.
The next presidential debate on October 15 will be a town hall style format in Miami in which regular people will pose the questions. This format will make Trump look even more boorish if he interrupt’s Biden’s response to a question, though he will undoubtedly do so. The third debate will be on October 22 in Belmont University in Nashville using the same moderator format as the first one.
Following the embarrassing first debate, there has been much debate about how to prevent it happening again and the debate organizers are supposedly discussing possible changes to the format. The current system began with the 1988 election. After the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960, there were no debates until 1976 when three were organized by the League of Women Voters. But the two parties thought that that body was too independent and so they wrested control away from them to a so-called Commission on Presidential Debates in 1987, though that high-sounding name hid the fact that it consisted of apparatchiks from the two major parties who wanted to make sure the format preserved their duopolistic power over the system.
This report looks at what changes are being considered in the wake of the recent debacle.
The commission that oversees US presidential debates says it will change the format to ensure the remaining two encounters between Donald Trump and Joe Biden are more orderly.
One new measure could be to cut the microphones if the candidates try to interrupt each other, US media report.
CBS News, citing an informed source, said the commission would spend the next 48 hours drawing up new guidelines and rules for the second debate.
Controlling the candidates’ microphones is at the top of the list, CBS said, in order to prevent them interrupting the moderator or each other.
One pf the suggestions has also been made by many people and that is to have the moderator control the microphones of each candidate and mute the non-speaker’s one. It is not clear that Trump’s camp will agree to this rule change since it is clearly in response to his rudeness. What I found significant was this line: “Both campaign teams will be informed of the rules but they will not be subject to negotiation, the source added.” That sounds like they will not be allowing Trump to veto a decision he does not like but since the commission is made up of people from the two parties, it is unlikely that the Republicans on the commission will suggest anything not already approved by Trump, since the party is so beholden to him. Trump has preemptively signaled that he will not accept any changes. But what if the commission goes ahead anyway and decrees changes? What will Trump do in response? He may use that as an excuse to skip the debates, given that although he boasts that he won the first one, he has to know that his performance was a disaster and that he simply cannot control himself from these outbursts.
But even if they agree to the mute option, that might not stop Trump who might just yell louder so that his voice is picked up by Biden’s microphone. What Trump really needs is a shock collar that will zap him with a jolt of electricity whenever he starts to interrupt. I bet the ratings for the debate will shoot up if that is done.
The first debate also did not have any commercial breaks and I am not sure if that practice will continue. While I am a fan of this, some late night comedians joked that the first debate was so chaotic that for once they wished there were breaks so that they could catch their breaths and get momentary relief from the craziness on display. One of the best things about having these debates during the pandemic has been the absence of an audience in the auditorium. I hope that practice continues.