The first debate was a travesty for American democracy

TEHRAN, Oct. 07 (MNA) – Jonathan Cristol, a research fellow at Adelphi University in Garden City, believes that the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden was “a travesty for American democracy”.

“All anyone will remember of the debate was that President Trump interrupted constantly, behaved like the world's most powerful kindergartener, and had to be yelled at by the moderator and told to behave himself. It was a travesty for American democracy, but I don't really think it was any more of a travesty than the election of Trump in the first place,” told an American academic in an interview with Mehr News.

The following is the text of the interview:

Recently it was declared that Trump tested positive for coronavirus. It is claimed that it is Trump's trick for the election. What do you think?

There is absolutely no chance at all that Trump's diagnosis is a trick. Trump's entire image of himself is that he is a powerful strongman who is smarter than everyone around him and wins at everything he does. This image is even more important to him than money, which is ultimately a means of achieving the power and "winning" that he feels he deserves.

He has also staked his entire presidency, and millions of lives, on his attitude towards Covid-19, and has convinced millions of his followers that it is nothing to worry about. That he would willingly go to the hospital is a sign that he is in very poor health indeed, as he has nothing to gain by making it up.

How has this been reflected in American society?

One thing we have already seen is that his most ardent followers will find a way to make his illness fit with their belief that he is some sort of superman-- one Fox News commentator said he got the disease "for all of us" and the spin is that he contracted the illness "because he was working so hard and always out in front for us," and the most extreme of his supporters claim that it must be an assassination attempt by China or Nancy Pelosi (I haven't seen Iran mentioned yet, but that will no doubt come up on the fringes of the TrumpTwitterVerse).

How will Trump’s positive test for coronavirus affect his public vote?

While I have no doubt that Trump will try to cheat and sue his way to victory next month, and we should not assume that he will lose the election, this further reduces his prospects and will certainly make his popular vote defeat even more pronounced. Unfortunately, we do not go by the popular vote.

How do you assess the first debate? 

Most Americans' minds are made up and so all that Biden had to do in the debate was to seem reasonably animated and coherent and not make any news. And I personally was concerned that he would have a hard time debating someone who will lie about anything and everything and contradict himself three times in a single sentence.

However, it didn't even come to that. All anyone will remember of the debate was that President Trump interrupted constantly, behaved like the world's most powerful kindergartener, and had to be yelled at by the moderator and told to behave himself. It was a travesty for American democracy, but I don't really think it was any more of a travesty than the election of Trump in the first place.

But because our election will be decided by relatively few voters in relatively few states, it may have helped Biden in some significant ways. And I think Biden did everything he needed to do.

Considering the first debate as well as Trump’s positive test for coronavirus, do you think he will participate in the second debate?

It is worth noting that Trump thinks he won the debate, so he will be very eager to debate Biden again regardless of his health.

Dr. Jonathan Cristol is a research fellow in the Levermore Global Scholars Program at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY (US), where he teaches courses on American Foreign Policy and the Politics of the Middle East. Prior to coming to Adelphi, he was a fellow at the World Policy Institute and the director of the Globalization and International Affairs Program at Bard College (US). He is the author of the 2019 book The United States and the Taliban before and after 9/11 (Palgrave) in addition to numerous academic and non-academic articles.

Interview by Amir Muhammad Esmaeili

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