Joe Biden’s Statement on Declining Future Debates

(How Joe Biden might consider following up today in the aftermath of last night’s historic—for all the wrong reasons— presidential debate…)

My fellow Americans,

If you watched my “debate” last night with Donald Trump, you were perhaps as horrified at what you beheld as I was. I will not belabor all the ways in which the president of the United States degraded his office, himself, and most importantly, you, the people of our beloved democracy. It was a performance so over the top as to leave observers not only stunned, but grasping for commentary that would befit the unprecedented spectacle they had just witnessed.

As difficult as I know it was for you to watch, and as excusable as it was if you simply gave up early in the proceedings and curled up with a good book or your children or the family dog, I will tell you it was a very challenging circumstance for others in that hall last night as well—including myself and the beleaguered moderator, Chris Wallace.

I felt for Mr. Wallace in his valiant attempts to corral the proverbial bull in a china shop, and if you watched, you know the almost insurmountable challenge he faced.

Upon reflection, I am myself sorry I occasionally succumbed to President Trump’s repeated, aggressive interruptions and slashing, derisive style with invective of my own. Virtually everyone who has encountered the president in political discourse or tried to be of service to him as a moderating influence on his persistent outlandishness has discovered, in short order, how nearly impossible the task is.

That was not so much a debate last night as it was a mud wrestle, and none of us involved were well served.

That includes, most importantly, you, my friends.

America suffered last night—in its capacity for civilized discourse, adherence to facts, commitment to fundamental decency, and once again, in our reputation around the world.

A president resolutely unwilling to refute white supremacy, unwilling to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, telling his extremist, armed base to “stand by” after the election, relentlessly shouting over his debate opponent and moderator through an exhausting 90 minutes—these are not normal behaviors, and they should never be accepted as such.

The American people deserve much, much better, and the sad truth I am facing this morning is the near certainty that they will not get anything better in the two scheduled debates still remaining.

That is why I am informing the Commission on Presidential Debates this morning that I am—regrettably but resolutely—cancelling my appearances in those debates.

Everyone who watched or read about the proceedings last night should by now have a crystal clear window on their choice in November. No further purpose can be served by exposing the American people to two more occasions that embarrass rather than enlighten them, making them despair for their democracy rather than celebrate it.

The time for that celebration will come in November, if you, the American people, turn out to vote and make your voices of decency and thoughtfulness heard.

On my end, I will do everything in my power to make sure that what you witnessed last night does not, can not, and will not define our nation. And I, for one, will not give Mr. Trump any more opportunity to attempt to do so.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Joe Biden
Candidate for President of the United States



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16 comments to Joe Biden’s Statement on Declining Future Debates

  • Mimi Wheatwind  says:

    Where was this published? I haven’t seen it yet in any online news sources. Bravo for him (and for those of us exhausted by the 90 minutes we witnessed last night), if this is true.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Hi Mimi, so sorry for the confusion, didn’t mean to mislead here. It was just a hopeful, imaginative exercise in which I was seeking to channel the seeming despair and profound dejection I felt personally last night and then from so many other voices in the aftermath of the debate. With big news like this that one could get from countless sources on the Internet, there would be little point in my running it verbatim as a blog post. But since a few other folks also inquired whether this was real, I obviously should have had some disclaimer to make sure there was no question in anyone’s mind. Won’t make that mistake again!

  • Candi Borah  says:

    I appreciate this pure and honest interpretation of last night’s debate, which it was not a debate. It was just Trump rudely interrupting over 70 times. He demonstrated he has no respect for anyone. He is just a bully. I don’t believe new strategies for the next debate will change the bully. He is an embarrassment to our country.
    Thank you Mr. Biden for demonstrating your respect for this country and the American people.

    Also, I’ve wanted to say this , please when you are elected as our next President don’t tweet the American people!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Yes, Candi, a permanent ban on any future president using Twitter would be a healthy first step (among many more needed!) to overcome the ravages of the Trump presidency. Thanks for getting that down in writing! :-)

  • Moon  says:

    This is exactly what Mr Biden should do. On Facebook, I have a number of 60ish Track friends, who I know lean to the right, and I posted after the debate the two points of encouraging White Supremacy groups, as well as Trump’s inability to be able to accept the will of the legit voters…

    I had a glimmer of hope that some of these guys might agree, but no…it’s right back to the talking points, Antifa, Law and Order, riots, etc. I give up trying to even talk to these guys…we’ll stick to shot put technique and going over the hurdles!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Moon, I don’t know whether you watched any of the analyses and post-mortems after the debate, but everything that I saw had even the Republican commentators holding their heads in dismay, with everyone looking sorely in need of Advil. They all admitted Trump had embarrassed himself and not helped his cause, though they didn’t appear nearly as shell-shocked as the Dem-inclined commentators were.

      The thing I always come back to that just dumbfounds me is what a purely bad person of low or no character Trump is, and the fact that bad people of low or no character simply make bad presidents. Turns out character matters—hasn’t that and the whole values-patriotism-religion thing been a Republican talking point for about ever? How can 60+ million ostensible values voters completely ignore that?

  • Jeanette Millard  says:

    Well said Joe – er I mean Andrew~
    I found the event amazingly clarifying – not that tRump is an idiot or a self-narcissist, but that he can’t even control himself when he needs to. I heard some people say that his strategy was to just interrupt as often as possible. But I don’t think that was it. I think he decided to be fully himself, and out it came.
    I found Joe’s strategy of just looking at us and smiling in a “can you believe this?” way, to be a good approach. Staying calm in that barrage was tough, I was disappointed to hear him distance himself from the Green New Deal, but I think once he’s elected and has good people in place, he will be well advised.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Yes, Jeanette, the instances of Trump simply not being able to control himself even though it would be the expedient and strategic thing to do are now just legion, aren’t they? I’m certain his handlers were just wincing last nite as he overplayed his “take it to him” hand, looking for Biden to get so flustered he’d start to talk in word salad. Didn’t happen, so Trump was left only with burying our democracy a few inches down from where he’d previously been able to take it.

      As for the Green New Deal, Joe was working last nite to distance himself from it and other matters dear to his progressive wing, a Trump attack line that actually may have been effective in tying Biden in knots if the audience could have digested anything besides Trump’s vitriol. But I agree Joe’s basically walking a political line there, and from what I know of his plans, they’ll be greener than anything we’ve ever seen before—with their implementation, outside of executive orders, dependent on also getting a Senate majority. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and hanging in there thru the train wreck!

  • B.Stagg  says:

    So how about adding that disclaimer, Mr. Hidas, that you acknowledge you should have done in answer to the Wheatwind comment. While I agree with every word as a “fictional exercise” I don’t appreciate the time I spent, and likely others are spending, trying to find out whether what you posted actually came from Mr. Biden, much less how this ended up in my Inbox. For the record, I am a devoted progressive Democrat.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Hi B. Stagg, first, I have no idea how the post ended up in your in-box—you are not on my subscriber list, so it wasn’t my doing from here. I never send out unsolicited notices on posts.

      As for the disclaimer, I didn’t hear till the afternoon from a person who wondered about the source of this post, which she had shared on Facebook. Frankly, I had never even considered the possibility of anyone taking it literally, but being alerted that had happened, I added a disclaimer on her page and mine and thought that was the end of it until I got home this evening and saw the comment/question from Ms. Wheatwind. Been mulling how to do a disclaimer on the post itself through the dinner hour here, and sat down a short while ago to do so, which is when I saw your note.

      Sorry you felt exasperated about the time you spent searching for the source, but when you think about it, the very first second Biden put out such a statement it would have occupied the first 10 pages of Google and been on about every other Facebook post you’d come across. So I’d only ask you to understand how I could not conceive of anyone taking this other than as an imaginative reflection on a matter of great import, and which felt worthy of exploring in a more direct way than my usual third-person commentary. But as I told Ms. Wheatwind, point taken and lesson learned.

      In any case, sorry again for your trouble and onwards to the election, and the result we’re both looking for down to the very ends of our toes.

  • Gerry Ausiello  says:

    Actually, if one reads the first two sentences of the posting, it is clear that this was what Joe “might consider saying” – I just missed it! It is also a sign of the times that we all want to fact-check, even your good work!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Actually, Gerry, you didn’t miss it at all—I added that disclaimer at the top of the page after it was evident that some readers were taking this as a straight announcement from the Biden camp that I was simply reprinting. I am sorry to report, however, that Biden did not take my advice, and will be showing up for both remaining debates on October 15 and 22.

      God help us.

  • Jay Helman  says:

    Well, “Mr. Biden,” you have certainly captured the horror of the unfiltered look at our president. For that, many thanks and nicely done. I feel an internal split with respect to canceling the remaining debates, or not: On one hand, I am taking a kind of sadistic pleasure in watching the wounded beast desperately trying to survive, and that his family is there to watch his transparent desperation. Michael Cohen, in his recent book Disloyal, recounts an incident when Trump called him saying he had Melania on the line (this in the wake of the Stormy Daniels, Karen Mcdougall payoff scandal). Trump asked Cohen to relay exactly what happened (and what didn’t) to Melania. Cohen writes that he knew immediately from Melania’s curt “Hello, Michael” that she knew Trump was lying and was calling Michael to lie for him as well. My point: Melania and the Trump kids know who The Don is and how he responds when cornered. As a new and inexperienced College Academic Vice President many years ago my mentor, the then-president said to me as we faced a potentially contentious faculty meeting, ” there will be some hostile and unreasonable voices in the room today; we just need to let them be who they are in front of their colleagues. The people who support us will see them for who they are.” If Joe will just continue to let Don be Don we can at least take some solace in knowing that the Trump family and some of his supporters see his pathetic desperation and the ugly, unhinged darkness of his soul revealed. We must be resilient, and Joe must not hide from the bully. In the meantime we have Kamala slicing and dicing Mike to enjoy soon.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      And the dynamics of all this shift once again with yesterday’s announcement of the supremely karmic event of the president and his wife’s Covid diagnosis, along with a mounting number of other White House staffers, legislators, et al. Surprise upon surprise upon shock upon awe at this most remarkable development in a remarkable year. And it looks like “Joe” might just see the realization of his position in this letter, depending…

  • Mary  says:

    To joes letter
    Joe, “let no
    Man pull you low enough to hate him” MLK

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Timely reminder, Mary! And of course, the more offensive one’s counterpart, the more challenging (and important) it is try to adhere to it. But as in so many things, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it…

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