Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Image: AP/Patrick Semansky)

Crikey readers deliver their verdict on the first US presidential debate, Daniel Andrews’ performance in the hotel quarantine inquiry, and our report on the response to JK Rowling’s newest book.

On the presidential debate:

Marie Curnick writes: The only way any moderator could control any debate involving Trump would be to control the microphones. During each candidate’s two-minute address the opponent’s microphone should be turned off.

Also for constant interruptions when a candidate is answering a question the interrupter’s mic should be switched off until the question is answered.

If a candidate does not address the question or topic and veers off topic then his/her mic goes off. Without mic control there is just chaos and/or bullying as we saw with this first so-called presidential debate!

Paul Munro writes: I sat through the entire debate. I found it depressing but engrossing. Although Trump’s behaviour was predictable, for me, the encounter had a degree of suspense: would anyone crack? Would the tirade and interruption continue? Would exchanges — like hard scenes from a well-acted Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolfe — give way to a quieter denouement? No way: at least from the president’s side of the stage.

What most struck me after the debate was how far apart my impressions were from any commentator I heard on CNN or the ABC. Basically, I thought that no one who started from a position of intending to vote Democrat would have been deterred from that course by Biden’s performance. I thought anyone who was wavering would also not found any material aspect of Biden’s performance to cause them not to back him or to prefer Trump.

What did get through was that Biden, if he wins, will run a presidency that looks and sounds more like what I expect from a group of experts and adults running the show. That was a message he needed to deliver today. He did so.

Nothing I heard today from Trump detracted one iota from the amazement generated by his three years in office that the USA has thrown up that sort of Barnum and Bailey figure to lead it and represent it to the world in such troubled times.

Frederika Stein writes: Call that a debate? My golden retriever is tidier eating her dinner!

On Andrews:

Michael Spencer writes: Surely Crikey can do better than serve up the same tripe we get from the mainstream media baying to know who decided to employ security guards on hotel quarantine. First, most states use private security for hotel quarantine in some form so the issue is who was responsible for them not understanding the public health issues and enforcing the rules.

Second, all bureaucracies develop people with expertise in covering their backsides. So the more important questions are: who wasn’t doing any risk analysis, who wasn’t managing a credible process that held responsible individuals to account?

Third, what does this say about public administration in Victoria (probably Australia) after more than three decades of new public sector management that was going to create more professional and accountable public sector?

Toby Ralph writes: A cock-up is understandable. A cover-up is intolerable.

On JK Rowling’s new book:

Pei Ting Tham writes: The article misses a lot of nuance about the discussion around transphobia and the reasoning presented in the article is flawed and confusing.

Is it OK for JK Rowling to receive abuse and death threats? Of course not. Is it happening due to misogyny and her gender? Absolutely. Her gender definitely plays a huge factor in the kind of response she is receiving.

But the article is arguing for this based on the confused premise of sex and gender. Sex is a biological construct while gender is a social construct. These are two different domains. They are not competing domains, nor are these constructs a “belief” one can subscribe to or not, as implied.

What is missing from this article is the history of Rowling’s transphobia and trans-erasure. She has been very vocal about her views on social media, prompting responses from the main actors on the Harry Potter movies in support of transgender identities. There is no trans character in Rowling’s new book precisely because she does not believe in the transgender identity, and the reduction of a trans identity into a cross-dressing man committing crime is deeply dangerous and hurtful to transgender people around the world.

It is 2020. Just as we now know the world is not flat anymore, we now know that gender is different from sex and gender identities can be varied and diverse.

Peter Fray

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