Jon Meacham’s Huff and Guff: Biden Has ‘Child-Proofed the Debate Stage’ for Trump

Beware the liberal networks when they turn to “presidential historians” to preview a presidential debate, because the experts are dependably Democrats. On Sunday’s This Week on ABC, host Martha Raddatz brought out Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham, and she at least explained Meacham has been a Biden adviser and speechwriter. Pollster Frank Luntz rounded out the panel. 

What you could expect, then, is Meacham’s usual lecture about how this is not democracy on display with two sides. Democracy is behind one podium (his candidate Biden) and Autocracy has a menacing glare behind the other (Trump). One side has a statesman, and the other side has a spoiled child. The spin is that aggressive. 

MARTHA RADDATZ: And, Jon, I want to go to you. As we said, you have informally been advising President Biden. It was his proposal to change the rules, early debate, muted mics, no audience. How big a difference do you think that will make?

JON MEACHAM, ‘: I think it will be huge because it actually — what President Biden’s done is he has successfully child-proofed the debate stage for former President Trump who is responsible for this uncivil tone on the stage. Let’s be very clear here. This is not a both sides issue. Martha, you’ve moderated debates with President Biden — Vice President Biden in them.

There has been as Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed out, we have defined deviancy down, it’s true, but that is not President Biden’s fault. And I think what he has done is rendered a public service, he and his team, in bringing some constraints to the debate to actually allow there to be a conversation that is not simply performative.  American democracy is not a reality show, and Donald Trump has treated it that way for almost ten years now.

So, let’s not — let’s not kid ourselves here. This is a vital election. Both sides are not equally at fault. President Biden, seems to me, what he has to do is show people that he is fully in command which I believe him to be, and remind us that there is a way in which the presidency should operate, that is — one’s dignified and decent, and delivers for the American people.

Biden is eternally “dignified and decent,” no matter how many times he smears Republicans, or how many times he enabled his son to make millions in foreign influence-pedding that was wasted on crack and hookers. 

Raddatz then repeated “I know you’re advising Biden,” but asked what advice he would give Trump who “needs moderates, but he’s a hard guy to moderate.” 

MEACHAM: I think that may win the understatement of the week award. Donald Trump’s hard to moderate. I don’t think President Trump would welcome my counsel, but I think you just answered the question. If he can (INAUDIBLE) to show that perhaps his illiberal, anti-democratic impulses are, in fact, in check, then perhaps that reaches people. I have to say – look, I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. I voted for candidates of both parties.

He’s advising the Democrat, but he’s not a Democrat? Always throw a follow-up on this claim. Which Republican have you ever voted for, sir? With a secret ballot, would we ever know if he’s lying? But it gets worse. Meacham says he’s for the Constitution, not so much for Biden! 

MEACHAM: I have a personal – as does everyone here – devotion to, if I may, the Constitution, the constitutional order that Doris has written about so beautifully for so long. That’s what’s at stake here. It’s not just a set of policies here and policy there. This is not about marginal tax rates at this point. It’s about which vision of America. And a vision of America, where we are, in fact, pursuing a more perfect union, or is it about conceding that one party, one interest, one man should be in control of everything? And it’s not a choice that we faced before.

Although liberals tag Frank Luntz as a Republican, he seemed incapable of offering anything but his own worries about how the debate might hurt democracy. He didn’t offer any opposition to Meacham’s huffy hot takes. 

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