We Haven't Lost Anything by Trump Refusing to Debate
There are plenty of reasons why Donald Trump choosing to skip the first Republican debate in the primary is actually good for everyone⸺except Fox News
Some conservatives are angry with Donald Trump for choosing to skip the first debate of the Republican primary on Wednesday because they think that he should be willing to give voters a chance to hear how he answers theoretically difficult questions and differs from his fellow candidates in real-time and from his own mouth. My response to this is that this was never going to happen regardless of whether Trump attended the debate or not. Presidential debates are not really debates at all, but rather a personality contest for candidates. They have a script and a strategy going into these debates that generally don’t involve taking any particularly firm stance on the issues. Nobody is going to hurt Trump in the polls at this debate by attacking or questioning him on his many legal issues, so far his poll numbers seem to have risen right alongside the number of times he’s been indicted, so that’s frankly a pointless issue to deal with anyway.
So voters are not being deprived of any kind of substantive policy or moral debate with Trump’s absence, because that has never been on the table. Furthermore, every other candidate on the debate stage should be thankful that Trump won’t be there sucking up all the oxygen in the room. In the 2016 debates, anytime one of the other candidates tried to attack Trump he ended up coming out looking better than them simply because he’s funnier than most presidential candidates. If Trump were at this debate he would be getting most of the attention from the media in general, most of the questions would be directed to him, and he would constantly be responding to attacks from other candidates. In other words, this would be the Trump Show with special, limited appearances by the other candidates. Without him there, every other candidate can attack him without worrying about him making them look silly in real time, and they will also all get more time to speak.
As for Trump himself, he’s not wrong to point out that he has nothing to gain by debating these nobodies. Which of the other GOP candidates is within striking distance of Donald Trump’s polling numbers?
As you can see from recent polls, Donald Trump is running away with the Republican nomination. I won’t go as far as Donald Trump himself or Kari Lake and suggest that the primary is over before a single vote has been cast, anything can happen, but Trump is right that there’s no reason for him to debate these other candidates when the nomination is his to lose. And anyone in the corporate media who wants to attack Trump for this position should be forced to answer for why they don’t also demand that President Biden debate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is polling in the Democratic primary against Biden at least as well as any of Trump’s challengers are polling against him in the Republican primary.
Instead of attending the Republican debate, Trump has seemingly decided to do a one-on-one interview with former Fox News megastar Tucker Carlson for his program on X. I’m not sure that that has been made official as of yet, but I can’t see why Carlson wouldn’t be interested. Hurting the network that unceremoniously fired him and is trying to silence him from being allowed to interview people on X by interviewing Donald Trump at the same time Fox is airing this debate has to be appealing to Carlson. He knows that an interview with Trump airing at the same time will absolutely crush Fox’s ratings. I would question whether sitting down for an interview with Tucker Carlson would be good for Trump, however. Tucker Carlson was not afraid to criticize Trump on his Fox News program, and his criticisms were often of a more substantive nature than most in the corporate media. If I was in the Trump campaign I would be worried that an interview with Tucker Carlson might do more to harm Trump than attending the debate would.
Regardless, it seems to me that the only entity that definitely loses by Donald Trump not attending the debate is Fox News, and I can’t seem to muster up any sympathy for them. Anything that hurts the likes of Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC is probably good in my book, and Donald Trump refusing to allow them to use him for ratings is fine by me. The rest of us should be happy to be able to get a better look at the candidates not named Donald Trump, and the possibility of one of the most in-depth and substantively critical interviews that Trump has ever sat for. What more could you ask for in politics?