Having Biden and Trump face off, again, is in itself quite controversial. While Biden clearly lacks the mental and physical health to lead a country, one can clearly doubt whether Trump is fit to become president (again) as he is a controversial character who seems to lack some of the key diplomatic skills we tend to look for in a leader (not to mention his seemingly turbulent private life). One question that should pop up in one’s head after seeing this debate therefore is: are these two gentlemen really the best candidates the democrats and republicans can come up with?

Obviously, there must be many other people who would be better US presidents than these two but for some reason skills and qualities are trivial in this race, and one can only speculate about what factors are exactly determining their candidacies (which we will not do here). But, at least, what both men do have to offer is that they have become household names in the US, which does raise their electability.

But what we do want to speculate on is why we saw this first debate at an unusually early time (as the US presidential election is scheduled to be held on 5 November 2024). In previous elections these debates started way closer to the actual election. Two possible factors are that (1) Biden and Trump form the clear candidates of both parties ever since the start of 2024, and therefore there is no need for any further delay, and (2) the 2024 presidential debates will be the first (since 1988) not to be sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, allowing both sides to set dates for the debates themselves.

But there might be another factor at play, too. This third factor particularly came to mind after seeing the reactions (to this first debate) in US mainstream media. The reader might know that most mainstream media channels are in favour of Joe Biden. However, after this first debate, many of these channels started (heavily) criticizing Biden’s performance in the debate, even openly doubting whether he can continue in the race. For example, shortly after the first debate, CNN published an article titled “Biden’s disastrous debate pitches his re-election bid into crisis”, referring to Biden’s weak physical appearance and a couple of moments of incoherent speech. In (other) US media we also read statements made by fellow democrats who criticized Biden’s performance in the debate.


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