Duck and Cover

How to prepare for tonight’s presidential debate.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden square off in the first of three presidential debates tonight starting at 9 pm. And while I’d like to treat it like the fellow above, I’ve got to watch it so I can sound smart on the radio tomorrow. Because misery loves company, you should watch it too.

So what should we watch for? Well, the New York Times suggests this is Trump’s best chance to change the narrative of a race where he’s lagging far behind. So from Trump expect a lot of personal attacks on Biden and his family, and a loose relationship with facts and the truth. Biden has to avoid taking Trump’s bait and keep rein on his temper and emotions.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post points out that Trump hasn’t really prepared, believing his experience as president is preparation enough, and testing out attack lines on close aides and with rally audiences; moderator Chris Wallace doesn’t intend to act as a live fact checker; and any slips of Biden’s will likely pale besides those of his counterpart.

Over at Politico, the writers compile what they expect to be the “10 biggest whoppers” told on the stage tonight. Brace yourself for this, but they expect most of these — 7 out of 10 — will come from Trump.

John Dickerson at The Atlantic reminds us that debates are about more than facts. Rather they are a window into a candidate’s temperament, character, and style of leadership. As I suggested last week, I think we have that covered when it comes to Donald Trump. But we might see something interesting about Joe Biden tonight. Besides, the burden of fact checking really ought to be on us as viewers.

Finally, will tonight’s debate really matter? Well, according to the folks at fivethirtyeight.com, first debates tend to help the challenger more than the incumbent, though that may not play out this time around. There are frankly too few undecided voters left to be persuaded. And Biden may have the most to lose because he’s so far ahead.

So there you go. You can read all of that, or just take it like the guy in the photo. I know which one I’d choose if I could.

If you’re curious about that photo, it’s a still from the classic 1951 Civil Defense film “Duck and Cover,” starring Bert the Turtle. Watch it here.

The end is near …

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And by that I mean the end of this year’s tragedy/horror show/circus/train wreck/national disgrace series of presidential debates.

Trump and Clinton square off for the final time on stage¬†in Las Vegas (fitting somehow) tonight, and since throughout this process I’ve strongly urged my students to do their civic duty and tune in, I’ll be watching it too.

As a viewer, there are all kinds of ways to prep. I’m going to follow the lead suggested by the brilliant Wiley above. You might want to as well.

Or you could follow some of the links below:

NPR gives us four things to look for in tonight’s debate. And during the debate they’ll be producing live transcripts and real-time fact checking.

The New York Times also has a preview and summary of the themes they will be watching for in tonight’s debate, from Clinton’s struggle to sound human to the possibility¬†that Trump will take his time at the podium to burn the GOP to the ground.

Finally, if you’re not sure where to find the debate on TV or radio, or if you’re one of those youngsters who consumes all media via streaming the Internet across the screen of your smartphone, Vox has your complete guide to how to watch. You can also read their preview take on the role of tonight’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, here.

So buckle in folks. See you on the other side.