You can’t debate your opponent if you have to debate the debate commission first.
The privately-run Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to protect Joe Biden by any means necessary. Despite the event falling well beyond the relevant quarantine period following President Trump’s recent bout with COVID, this ostensibly “non-partisan” group took the unprecedented step of cancelling the second debate, which was scheduled to be a “town hall-style” affair in the battleground Miami market. In its place, the CPD unilaterally announced a “virtual debate.”
Obviously, President Trump declined. No one — not even the most ardent Biden supporter — wants to watch a 90-minute Zoom call in which Joe can read his answers off a teleprompter or cued by aides, as he has been caught doing several times already. The very notion that the President of the United States would ever have participated in such a farce is ridiculous. It was proposed simply to be rejected — a fact made all the more clear by the Commission’s refusal to do the most obvious thing and simply move the two remaining debates back a week.
The ploy was apparent almost from the moment the Commission overstepped any previously perceived authority and decreed that the second debate would be held virtually. Within hours of the Commission’s decision that it was too dangerous to hold a town hall-style debate, the Biden campaign announced it would be holding another canned “town hall” with former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos — suspiciously speedy timing for a campaign and a candidate better known for a much more plodding pace.
So be it. If the Commission on Presidential Debates were to officially endorse Biden, that would be a violation of their non-partisan 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. This was simply the next-best thing for these pearl-clutching establishment creatures that have dwelled in the swamps of the Potomac for decades, prioritizing their next cocktail party invitation at a Georgetown mansion ahead of honest and fair presidential debates for the American people.
Let’s just dispense with the notion that these people who make up the Commission are anything other than surrogates for the Biden-Harris campaign.
The Commission on Presidential Debates is a private group that is allowed to organize these debates only as a matter of historical coincidence. Whatever legitimacy the Commission once had was based on its supposed “non-partisan” nature, and that’s long gone.
As my former boss and five-term U.S. Senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole pointed out on Friday, when it comes to President Trump, the Commission’s “non-partisanship” isn’t worth the IRS form it’s printed on.
“The Commission on Presidential Debates is supposedly bipartisan w/ an equal number of Rs and Ds,” he wrote. “I know all of the Republicans and most are friends of mine. I am concerned that none of them support [President Trump].”
Senator Dole’s comment is, if anything, an understatement. The leading “Republican” member of the commission, for instance, chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, was a long-time ally of arch-Never Trumper Senator John McCain, and actively sought to kneecap Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential debates.
The President’s troubles with corrupt debate organizers are nothing new. Even as he dominated the GOP primary debates in 2015 and 2016, he was decrying a system run by and for the Republican donor class — people who cheered for Jeb Bush and booed as then-candidate Trump called out the lies and hypocrisies behind the Iraq War. By the end of those debates, he had won over most GOP primary voters. They chose to reject the establishment and nominate Donald Trump despite those “impartial” organizers’ best efforts to sink him.
The only thing the Commission on Presidential Debates has done this October is discredit itself in the same manner the GOP establishment did in 2016. With that in mind, we’ll hope to see Joe Biden on October 22 for the second debate. It’s up to him if he wants to show America that he doesn’t need the Commission to protect him by agreeing to another matchup, standing on his own, exposed for all Americans to see for themselves.
Michael Glassner is Chief Operating Officer of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.