The dust had barely settled from the cage match we witnessed on Sunday when Allahpundit posed the question, so there’s probably not going to be a third debate, right? I’m sure there was at least some measure of tongue-in-cheek there, but the message wasn’t entirely hypothetical either. Would Hillary Clinton or her supporters want to go through that type of a meat grinder again if she’s still sitting on a comfortable lead in the polls with less then two weeks to go?
The question has left the realm of conservative critics and begun to show up in liberal columns now. Over at the Washington Post, Colbert I. King picks up the baton from AP and asks what the point would be of doing it all again.
Do we really need a third presidential debate? What’s the point? To have another round of ugliness and continued disgusting performances by Donald Trump in his desperate and vain pursuit of the highest office in the land?
Why debase the presidency in this way? Perverse entertainment? TV ratings?
By this time, the country knows just about all it needs to know about the presidential contenders. What’s left to learn can come through paying attention to them as they conduct their campaigns, give their speeches, answer questions and explain their positions on the issues.
What gets us nowhere is the brawling, the insults and the bombasts, the lying gutter sniping that Trump brings to the debate.
This is, of course, a “safe space” argument for Hillary supporters in more ways than one. At the collegiate, special snowflake level, King appears to be appealing to the better angels of the networks and the Commission on Presidential Debates to spare the nation the potential harm of hearing nasty old Donald Trump say more “offensive and derogatory” things. It’s a completely one sided argument which assumes that only Trump is offensive and nothing he has to say could possibly add to the national conversation.
But there’s a second “safe space” element at play here which is not mentioned at all in King’s column. If Clinton is ahead in the polls, it might prove to be particularly unsafe for her if even more Wikileaks revelations show up which include additional emails detailing her various hijinks while at the State Department or on the campaign trail. Why risk having a moderator bring up such distasteful subjects right before the vast majority of the nation goes to vote?
Could Clinton get away with bailing out? That’s the only scenario in which this happens. Absolutely nobody supporting Donald Trump is looking to avoid a rematch and the candidate himself is obviously spoiling for yet another turn on the dance floor where he can open up on her with both barrels. But what’s to stop Hillary from turning tail and running for the hills? As Allahpundit correctly noted, people would criticize her for lacking the spine to stand up under fire, but would that really be enough to put the voters off their feed? And could it really be worse than having another huge audience hear more about her scandals when she’s holding what may look like a winning hand at that point?
I’m still betting against it. If nothing else, she won’t want to finish this run with an action which makes her look too weak to stand up next to a man. And if the poll numbers look good enough she’s probably got the ego to assume that he won’t be able to bring her down anyway. My prediction is that the debate will go on as scheduled and it will be even more spicy than the last one.