No, They Shouldn’t Cancel the Debates

The calls came from the Atlantic, from Slate, on the homepage of the New York Times; from commentators on MSNBC and CNN. Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post’s estimable media watcher, put it succinctly: “Failing some radical reform in the debate format, there’s no reason for the next two debates to take place as scheduled.”

It’s a rational response to what passed for a presidential debate Tuesday night, featuring a moderator alternately demanding and pleading with the sitting president of the United States to stop interrupting his opponent with endless verbal assaults, including insults to the non-elite status of Joe Biden’s alma mater, and what might have been the first scatological slur in debate history. (Responding to Joe Biden’s frequent “Number one, number two” rhetorical tick, Trump responded: “You’re a number two.”)

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There is, however, a reason not to kill off a key feature of modern presidential politics, even if in the wake of Tuesday night, it may seem like a mercy killing. The reason? The format of the next Biden-Trump debate,

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