Debate #1 is history and it was largely “sound and fury signifying nothing. Besides probably yukking it up about the complete lack of presidential decorum displayed, it was described by Jake Tapper as “A hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.”
Others called it “exhausting,” “ove-torqued,” “monstrous,” “out-of-control” and “frightening.”
Even Republican shill Rick Santorum had to admit, “The President hurt himself tonight.”
Chris Wallace couldn’t handle the one-on-one debate that he was in charge of with Trump that showed a lack of much mutual respect between the two men, held previously. Why did anyone think he would be able to control the notoriously out-of-control Bully-in-Chief?
While wondering why some genius didn’t think to have a button for the moderator to use to cut off either candidate who ran over his supposed 2 minutes of uninterrupted time, who picked Chris Wallace? Was it simply because he is the son of the truly good newsman Mike Wallace? Was it because he is affiliated with Fox News, Trump’s go-to network? Whatever the reason, the choice of someone who seemed to be a bit of a namby-pamby was a bad one.
Both men interrupted each other repeatedly, but the true onus of MOST interruptions was clearly weighted in DJT’s favor. Just as his arrogant, obnoxious, self-aggrandizing, pompous proselytizing (“I’m a very stable genius”) is not the kind of behavior that endears the individual to an audience. Trump’s non-stop lying was bad enough, such as his mis-statement of 700,000 manufacturing jobs gained when it is really 270,000 manufacturing jobs LOST on his watch, but the worst thing about the debate is that it showed the nation the Trump that Mary Trump described in her book “Too Much and Never Enough.”
There is criticism enough for the entire nature involving this debacle. Not only did Trump make remarks like, “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe,” but Biden returned fire by calling the President of the United States “Putin’s puppy” and a clown. While both of those remarks are amply supported by evidence, the entire exchange was beneath the dignity of the office and of the ostensible aims of a presidential debate. In fact, analysts on one network said that they wondered if any further debates will be held. (The two are scheduled for 3 presidential debates and 1 VP debate; adjustments are being discussed.)
Saying “Everybody knows he’s a liar” and repeating “Here’s the deal” multiple times was not Joe Biden’s finest hour. (“Folks, do you know what this clown is doing?”)
The best part of Biden’s performance was that he looked directly into the camera and delivered remarks as though he were speaking directly to those of us sitting at home. There were no “teleprompters” guiding him and he was more than able to prove that there was “enough gas in the tank.” Both men talked over one another and over the ineffectual moderator to the point that Biden, at one point, said, “Will you shut up, man?” and “Keep yapping, man.”
When the moderator asked a question on Covid-19, Biden had a good line: “It is what it is because you are who you are.” This apparently raised Trump’s ire, as he then threw insults at Biden about his intelligence, his choice of schools, and a barrage of false charges including a remark from Trump that Biden would “kill people all over the place.”
In the midst of the question about the coronavirus that has killed 200,000 American citizens, Trump tried to drag Hunter Biden into the mix, while suggesting that “Our suburbs would be gone” if Biden were to be elected. (Biden’s response: “He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn.”) What more can you say about DJT?
He is famous for belittling his opponents and his supporters seem to love it. The lack of decency doesn’t seem to bother the Trump base; I’m sure they think he “won” this shameful display of hubris. Trump spent a lot of time feeling sorry for himself and whining about it (standard) and a fair amount of time making totally discredited and outrageous statements (as with his screed about voting by mail). It was interesting, to me, that Carolyn Maloney’s New York Democratic primary race was brought up by Trump as proving that there was fraud in absentee voting. No less an authority than one of her primary opponents “tweeted” that Trump was totally wrong about that. Another “tweet” came from Rudy Giuiliani’s daughter, who opined that DJT had been horrible and was lying. Fact-checker Daniel Dale called Trump’s remarks: “an avalanche of lying” and said, “Almost everything DJT said was wrong.”
The organization that was laid out beforehand featured questions that were supposed to cover:
- Trump and Biden’s records in office.
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and violence in our cities
- Integrity of the election
David Axelrod called the display “Trump’s Greatest Hits” and the talking heads talked about how this sort of chaos cannot become a “normal” part of presidential debates. Wolf Blitzer on CNN called it “an embarrassment for the United States of America” and 4 of 6 voters who claimed to have been undecided prior to the debate, who were hooked up to widgets, said they were now going to vote for former vice president Biden.
I have said, for the past 4 years, that it is impossible to try to teach youngsters to be good kids when we have a Bully-in-Chief in the White House. How do you tell your kids that it is not right to lie, when Donald Trump lies at every turn? How do you tell children it is not morally right to make fun of the handicapped when we have film of Donald J. Trump doing exactly that? How can we convince young people to be kind, not mean, towards others? We already know that Trump did not model good mask-wearing behavior until July 11th (despite knowing about the approaching pandemic 7 months prior). We have heard him talk about “grabbing them by the pussy,” so we know that Trump does not extend respect to women. He admitted as much on an infamous Howard Trump interview.
I thought the final word that came through loud and clear on this night of American theater was that, at the end of the night, only one candidate came across as a normal, regular guy who does care about viewers at home; only one of the two candidates seemed to be an upright citizen who you can trust to try to do the right thing in office. Calling it “such a low moment in presidential history” was an understatement.
I wonder(ed), when it was all over, whether the next announcement was that there would BE no more debates this election season. I wondered, after the Iowa caucuses, if, come 2024, we’d hear that Iowa was no longer going to enjoy its “first in the nation” caucus designation (stay tuned for developments on that front.)
And so it went from Case Western Reserve Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Join me on Thursday, October 1st, on the podcast Weekly Wilson on the Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio, a live call-in format, when author Michael Serripica and I (“Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals”) discuss the debate live. Call-in number is 866-451-1451.