Post-Debate Wrap

Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. Photos by Gage Skidmore. Image by Lenny Ghoul.


Because of President Trump’s contraction of COVID-19, the Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the October 15th debate between the two most prominent Presidential candidates will be held virtually. In response, President Trump has told Fox Business that he will not attend.

“No, I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” the President said. “That’s not what debating’s about.”

Analysis: Trump hasn’t been seen in a live appearance since returning to the White House. His personal doctor has announced that he hasn’t needed supplemental oxygen since the weekend and Trump has said in phone interviews that he’s feeling fine, he had the disease but knocked it out, and that he’s not contagious anymore.

However, Trump is an inveterate liar, something even his most ardent supporters admit (although most of them believe that he would never lie to them… only the people he needs to deceive.) Trump was supplied with a host of curatives both established and experimental. It is likely that he received a physical boost from the steroid treatment and it is possible that a potentially serious case has been diverted to a lesser case through the rapid treatment…. treatment which was not yet available when Boris Johnson suffered through his case.

Leaving aside the obvious, that the President has demonstrated a gross lack of knowledge about basic medicine and physiology and should never be trusted to self-diagnose about contagiousness, it is overwhelmingly likely that the President is, at best, experiencing great waves of fatigue as his body attempts to fight off the virus. Because of this, it is likely that he has been unable to stand for long periods of time and recognizes that he cannot participate in the debate. Much of his current focus will be on regaining the stamina to stand and speak for more than a half hour, because he believes that rallies are his avenue to victory.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has said he will still participate in the town hall-style event; if Trump does not attend, he is effectively handing his opponent not merely an extended commercial but all of the available attention. Trump wants to attend. If he is rejecting the offer, it is because he cannot manage it and he is attempting to excuse his decision in a way which will not portray him as weak. This is possible because Trump also recognizes that, should he regain enough energy to make it through the event, he can capitulate “for the good of the American people” up to the last hour or so and jump back in.


One of the ideas floating about social media and some far-left sites is that Trump did not truly contract the disease but has arranged this all as an October Surprise… he’s to announce he has the disease, then he’ll get better at an amazing pace, and that will convince everyone that he can lead us through COVID-19.

This fails on many levels. First and foremost are the physical symptoms he has demonstrated, such as swelling in response to a steroid treatment. Second is the rampant transmission of the disease among all other members of the White House inner circle; Trump is an overweight elderly man who gets minimal sleep and is widely rumored to be abusing a stimulant, Adderall. He is an easy target for the disease, should anyone in his inner circle contract it. With nearly everyone around him contracting it, he is potentially the primary spreader and certainly not immune. Third is the sheer quantity of people who would need to be in on the plan, including many doctors and nurses at Walter Reed, during an administration where information leaks have been common.

Trump’s departure from Walter Reed is easily explained not because he is dramatically better without drugs, but because he has even less control over information leaks from the hospital. Pictures of him in hospital gown and with oxygen tubes would damage his image among his fans. He cannot risk that.

The main argument in favor of the disease being a hoax is simply that Trump lies. This is true, he does. But we are not living in a logic problem with aliens who are compelled to speak truth or falsehood. “Trump lies” does not mean he is incapable of telling the truth, it means that he will say whatever he feels best serves him, whether true or false. It means that his motivations can never be trusted and his words will often need to be verified. The circumstances of the past week verify his illness.

(Besides, many of the same sites complaining that he’s faking it attack him for taking off his mask and for potentially infecting Secret Service members and White House staff. It’s completely irrational, but it’s prominent enough that the theory needed to be addressed.)


One complaint I’ve seen for years is that no matter what Trump does or says, a core constituency of his… “the cult”, to his detractors… won’t care. They will explain away any offense, malfeasance or incompetency.

That is partially correct. “Partially” matters.

There are many people who will hold fast to their beliefs and will rationalize anything which challenges those. The people who fall into this trap are not necessarily stupid; in fact, very often they are brilliant people who are used to being correct about things. They are the ones most likely to be able to create convoluted rationalizations. It is the same type of thinking which leads people into conspiracy belief.

But views and thinking vary from person to person. The goal in politics is not to shift the views of large amounts of people quickly, although that does occasionally happen. It is to shift the opinions of people, period. Every offense of Trump does that… and every offense will pry a few people loose from their support of him. Not bothering to point out his failures because “the cult” won’t care is giving up on the fight before it happens, and abandoning a very effective technique for achieving political victory.

It’s also why people are well advised to take a good, hard look at their own biases and preferences from time to time, because there will be efforts from all sides to shade opinion. Clear thought is always best, and can be sought through honest self-assessment with as little emotional influence as possible.


Last night, according to most polls, Harris won the debate… but not because of a dazzling performance. Both Harris and Pence performed adequately, fulfilling their roles as placeholders for their respective candidates. Pence attempted to make Trump’s aggression in the first debate seem like a premeditated plan of the campaign instead of an hour and a half of unhinged frustration, and Harris attempted to present Biden’s policy while not seeming more charismatic than him. This is what they were supposed to so, what they were coached to do by debate teams and campaign managers, and both demonstrated that they are adequate politicians.

Nothing was changed… and nothing was going to be changed. The Republicans have a message for their re-election: Biden is senile and likely to die soon and Harris is a far-left monster. You can’t vote for Biden, so vote Trump, and vote downballot. The Democrats have a message for their election: Trump is a walking nightmare who has been the impetus behind more than 180,000 American deaths, is a Russian puppet and is an overt criminal. (They barely even touch on his devastating trade policy, foreign policy failures and abandonment of battlefield allies. They have too many better-polling issues to focus on.) Nothing that was said in the debate is, or was, going to affect those campaign efforts, so nothing was going to come of the debate no matter how exciting or boring it may have been.

But at least we have the fly.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.