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Opinion: America got cheated

October 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Trump and Biden appeared separately -- in different cities, with different moderators and on different networks -- in overlapping town halls. Had they been on the same stage, the stark differences between the two would have seemed even more dramatic, but the town halls were revealing in many ways.

Instead of an originally scheduled head-to-head debate, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden appeared separately — in different cities, with different moderators and on different networks — in overlapping town halls.

Trump, on NBC, bragging about his administration's record, sowing confusion about the best health practices in a pandemic, refusing to tamp down rampant conspiracy theories like QAnon and expressing confidence he will win his bid for re-election.

"NBC's Savannah Guthrie spoke for most Americans in frustration by pointing out that Trump was the President of the United States, not someone's crazy uncle," wrote Joe Lockhart.

Trump even lost the TV ratings battle to Biden's town hall.

Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio noted that the President "replied to a question about the conspiracy theory phenomenon by saying, 'I know nothing about Q Anon. ' He said this even though he has distributed QAnon-based claims with his own social media accounts, and his rallies have long been gathering spots for vocal and highly visible displays of QAnon symbols and ideas. " As D'Antonio observed, it's characteristic Trump, who has said he knew nothing about former KKK grand wizard David Duke in 2016 and the Proud Boys in 2020.

With less than three weeks until the election, NBC made a big mistake scheduling the Trump town hall for the same time as the first hour of the Biden event, wrote Jill Filipovic.

The network gave Trump "exactly what he wants: His own platform without the more thoughtful, and more presidential Joe Biden standing in sharp contrast next to him.

For all the specificity of his policy plans, Biden was purposely hazy on whether he would move to expand the Supreme Court, wrote Alice Stewart.

He "heads into next week's scheduled debate in the pole position: in the front row, leading in the polls, with momentum on his side. " As the leader in the polls, Biden had reason "to play it safe" but voters should expect "him to come clean on key issues," Stewart observed.

The takeaway from four days of hearings this week on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett was clear: Democrats have no realistic way to stop her confirmation in the final days of the presidential campaign.

"With Barrett on the Supreme Court, whatever happens in November, the conservative court will be a major legacy of the Trump presidency," he wrote.

Actress Ashley Judd remembered RBG as "our voice in the room who steadily, unflinchingly, defended the equal dignity, rights and protections under the law of women and men. " By contrast, Judd wrote, Barrett's history suggests she'll follow a different path: "She will have the chance to render enormously consequential decisions for American women for generations to come.

"In response to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Barrett refused to answer the straightforward question of whether every American President 'should make a commitment -- unequivocally and resolutely -- to the peaceful transfer of power,'" Williams wrote.

"It would not have been hard for Barrett to show some distance from the President by restating uncontested points about the law -- particularly to a nation hungry for peaceful and secure elections in the middle of a global pandemic. "

But now -- with Trump behind Biden by double digits in national polls, with Democrats raising more money than Republicans in many races and GOP control of the Senate at risk -- "the fever may be starting to break," wrote John Avlon.

and to see the kind of wipeout we haven't an experienced since the post-Watergate year of 1974. " Avlon concluded, "as he threatens democratic norms and insists on his alternate reality, more Republicans may — at least in cold moments of private panic — awaken from their hyperpartisan stupor to realize that loyalty is always a one-way street with Trump. "

"Unnatural disasters like these Atlantic storms, which we know are supercharged by global warming, are becoming so frequent and so dangerous that they almost have a numbing effect on our collective psyche — the opposite of the intended effect of naming storms in the first place," wrote Sutter.

In a series of special reports for CNN Opinion this fall, Sutter will be answering readers' questions about the impact of climate change, including "the myriad wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington. " (Normally such disasters bring quick assistance from the federal government, but on Friday, the state of California confirmed that the Trump administration had turned down its request to declare a disaster over six wildfires in, what Tess Taylor wrote, "seemed to be a colossal act of pettiness and cruelty. " Later in the day Trump reversed the decision. )

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