Friday, May 17, 2024

Mere hours after agreeing to two presidential debates with Joe Biden, Trump started showing signs of trying to wiggle out of the agreement. What's going on?


On Wednesday (5/15/24) Donald Trump agreed in writing to do two presidential debates with Joe Biden. Before the day was over, Trump showed signs that he already was trying to squeeze out of the deal, possibly setting up a scenario where he could try to blame Biden if no debates take place before the Nov. 5, 2024, election.

If Trump winds up skirting two debates to which he already had agreed, that seems to raise a number of questions about the presumptive Republican nominee:

1. Does this add to the mounting evidence that Trump is unreliable, dishonest, sketchy, and disrespectful of political norms and the American public, making him unfit to hold higher office?

2. Is something wrong with Trump, perhaps a serious brain disorder, that caused him to conduct rallies over the past two weeks in which he spoke in an often nonsensical, incoherent fashion. At a rally in Wildwood,NJ, Trump confused former President Jimmy Carter with tennis great Jimmy Connors, praised fictional serial killer Hannibel Lecter as "a wonderful man," and struggled to say "Venezuela." The week before, he had similar problems during a campaign swing through Virginia and North Carolina

3. Some of Trump's verbal gaffes at the rallies likely were drowned out by  his cheering MAGA supporters, many of whom probably didn't care what he was saying anyway. But in a debate setting with no audience (just Trump and Biden), which Trump agreed to, he might have realized every word, and how he said them, would be scrutinized, and he would be at risk of figuratively falling on his face.

4. There has been much speculation in recent months about Trump's mental health (Biden's, too, for that matter), and that raises our most serious question: Does Trump know he has a brain disorder -- perhaps frontotemporal dementia (FTD). An article at includes this section on the symptoms of FTD:

Because FTD starts in the frontal lobe, which is responsible for mood and behavior, the person often becomes aggressive or apathetic, displays a lack of empathy, may use inappropriate language, and even act out sexually. Because of this, FTD is often mistaken for a psychiatric disorder, says says Elise Caccappolo, Ph.D., associate professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “The patient’s partner may come in and say they think they’re depressed or bipolar,” she explains. “It can be very hard on the caregiver.” :

We addressed age-related concerns about both candidates' mental acuity in an earlier post, and here is a section about how one expert assessed Trump and Biden:

In an interview with Salon, psychologist Dr. John Gartner, said:

“There is [ ] this focus on Biden's gaffes or other things that are well within the normal limits of aging. By comparison, Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden's brain is aging. Trump's brain is dementing.”

During his administration, nobody (at least nobody who was telling the truth) would have said that Donald read his briefings or was very engaged in any serious issues. His recent public appearances make it clear that he would be even less equipped if, by some tragic circumstance, he were allowed back in the Oval Office.

Reports about Trump's apparent squishiness regarding the debates started to appear late Wednesday night at a number of news outlets, particularly Newsweek: Because the story broke late in the evening, many Americans might not be fully aware of what has been going on. Hafiz Rashid, of The New Republic (TNR), explains under the headline "Pathetic Trump Already Trying to Weasel Out of Debating Biden; After agreeing to two debates with Biden, Donald Trump seems to be trying to set up an excuse to escape the whole thing":

After President Joe Biden and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday morning agreed to two debates in June and September, Trump suddenly began trying to push a third debate all on his own. .

“Please let this TRUTH serve to represent that I hereby accept debating Crooked Joe Biden on FoxNews. The date will be Wednesday, October 2nd. The Hosts will be Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post Wednesday afternoon.

Trump’s campaign had announced that it had accepted an invitation from CNN to debate Biden on June 27—as well as a second invite for a debate moderated by ABC on September 10. Biden, who had previously accepted an invitation from CNN, also agreed to take part in ABC News’s debate as well. But Trump’s post seems to indicate that the former president is trying to alter the agreement on his own. Biden’s campaign accused him of “playing games.”

“Donald Trump has a long history of playing games with debates: complaining about the rules, breaking those rules, pulling out at the last minute, or not showing up at all—which he’s done repeatedly in all three cycles he’s run for president,” said Biden’s reelection campaign chair, Jen O’Malley Dillon, in a statement.

“President Biden made his terms clear for two one-on-one debates, and Donald Trump accepted those terms. No more games. No more chaos, no more debate about debates. We’ll see Donald Trump on June 27th in Atlanta—if he shows up,” Dillion added.

Is Trump trying to make excuses and eventually weasel out of debates? He already skipped debates during the Republican presidential primaries, but those were to his political advantage as he never trailed any of his GOP opponents in the polls. In this case, chickening out would probably look very bad. It should be easy to debate an opponent you’ve dubbed “Sleepy Joe.” Of course, Trump has little room to talk, now that he’s been caught snoozing multiple times during his hush-money trial.

Here is what Trump wrote on Truth Social late Wednesday, according to a Newsweek report under the headline "Donald Trump Launches All-Caps Attack on Joe Biden After Agreeing to Debate":


What is the point of that statement, and what is Trump trying to pull? It's possible even he doesn't know. 

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