The debate was contentious, and for those that like formal, utterly polite formats, unsatisfying. It was not an occasion that will be likely to change millions of minds. But if I’m correct, that wasn’t President Trump’s plan. He was working to motivate his base, and he did that—in spades. Not only did he not lose a single voter, he likely spurred many that weren’t planning to vote to action. Joe Biden, on the other hand, almost certainly lost the more radical portions of his potential support, which is most of the D/S/C Party these days.
Winner: Donald Trump. He made a number of excellent points that will very much resonate with his base. He was, without question, the alpha male, and he dominated the evening. If what one is looking for in a national leader is strength, force of will and character, and energy, he’s the only choice. Actually, who in their right mind is looking for the opposite, other than America’s enemies, foreign and domestic?
Loser: Chris Wallace, who made an attempt at appearing to be fair, and to be fair, I’m sure he thought he was. But in reality, he rescued Biden on several occasions, and framed questions very much to the disadvantage of President Trump. I’ve written how disappointed I’ve become in Wallace over the last few years.
I now consider him a lost cause where objectivity is concerned. If he didn’t work for Fox, he’d be little different from the worst of the other networks.
Present: Joe Biden. His supporters will claim victory because he didn’t drool, forget who he was, or walk off camera. They will also say he proved he’s not senile. Not so. As the 90 minutes wore on, he had more and more difficulty making sense, frequently conflating multiple unrelated ideas, and don’t get me started on grammatically correct sentences. Grading student papers I often found page-long, stream of consciousness, run-on pseudo sentences. Biden made several of those. I’d list them verbatim, but like a deaf translator, I just couldn’t keep up. Perhaps when a transcript is available…
So, gentle readers, my initial thoughts on the debate. I may have more tomorrow when I’ve had time to think about things a bit more.
Donald Trump: Where most men are dramatically aged by their time in the Oval Office, Trump seems to be younger and more energized. I haven’t been able to detect any physical changes in the last four years. His energy level is off the charts, and he remained in confident control of himself. He knew what he was going to do, for the most part did it, and kept an even demeanor.
In the first question about his Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, Biden argued that the American people should have a choice about such things. Mr. Trump calmly pointed out that he was elected president, the Senate was given to Republicans by the voters, and neatly threw one of Barack Obama’s comments “elections have consequences,” figuratively into Biden’s face. He noted he was elected to serve for four years, and of course, he was right about it all.
Part of Mr. Trump’s strategy was to point out Biden is beholden to the most radical elements of the D/S/C Party, and Biden never had a real answer. Several times, Trump brought up the Bernie Sanders manifesto, entirely embraced by Biden and published in voluminous form as a campaign document. Biden denied any such manifesto existed.
Perhaps his best line of the night was: “I’ve done more in 47 months than you did in 47 years.” Mr. Biden was never able to provide any real accomplishment for all his years in office. President Trump was also able to expose former Vice President Biden on his failure to support law enforcement particularly and law and order generally. He challenged him to say “law enforcement”—he wouldn’t—observing he couldn’t because his leftist base would abandon him. He really hit home when he challenged Biden to name one law enforcement organization that endorsed him, provoking silence and a real deer in the headlights moment.
When Biden tried to suggest Trump wasn’t for a peaceful transition, Trump deftly turned the tables. He pointed out Democrats haven’t yet made a peaceful transition from 2016, attacking him in a coup even before he got the nomination. He brought up the September 29 revelation of Hillary Clinton’s deeper role in the coup, but Wallace, of course, didn’t touch that.
Mr. Trump also noted “China ate your lunch,” and brought up Biden family corruption, speaking of the millions Hunter Biden got from foreign sources, particularly the $3.5 million from the wife of Moscow’s mayor. Biden denied it all, claiming it has been “debunked.” When pressed about who debunked it, all he could reply was “everyone.” Don’t expect media fact checkers to tell the truth about any of this.
Wallace framed a question about Mr. Trump’s executive order to do away with critical race theory indoctrination in the federal government as though it was a bad thing, referring to it only as “racial sensitivity training.” He demanded to know why Mr. Trump did away with it. Trump’s answer was particularly strong as he pointed out it was racist, and anti-American propaganda. Wallace tried to push him on it to no avail.
When asked to speak to their records, Mr. Trump did, though he left out much he could easily have cited. In response, Biden merely attacked Trump.
At another point, where Covid was the issue, Mr. Trump was forcefully pointing out that Biden would shut down America, destroying the economy, which even Wallace had to admit was doing well. He was obviously doing too well and Wallace shut him down.
Wallace demanded Trump address “the science of climate change,” framing the question to support the D/S/C “Trump is anti-science” narrative. Trump didn’t let him get away with it, even though he restated the question several times.
I’ll get back to his, but Biden declared: “I am the Democrat Party right now.” Mr. Trump immediately quipped: “Not according to Harris.” That one left a mark.
Joe Biden: Biden continues to look every day of his 77 years (he’d be 78 on inauguration day if elected). He was obviously more energetic and awake than he has been in many appearances, but that it likely because his campaign has been resetting his biological clock so he could have a few good hours during the debate. That’s what all the “lids” have been about the last month. Doubtless, he was drugged, not just with medication for dementia, but stimulants. His forehead—the central portion—appears to be stretched tight, while the sides of his head were wrinkled. He was pale, and while his voice was not quite as affected by age as it usually is, it is clearly not the voice of a vital man. His eyes were often wide and staring, seemingly momentarily unfocused. However, he did have substantially more hair than we’ve seen in recent weeks. By any objective measurement, and we can be sure America’s enemies are measuring, Biden would have his lunch eaten by foreign foes.
Attacking Amy Coney Barrett, Biden proclaimed “Roe vs. Wade is on the ballot.” Trump replied: “No it’s not,” and noted there was nothing going on regarding that law. Biden had no reply.
Wallace did ask Biden if he would pack the Supreme Court or end the filibuster, but Biden would not answer, saying if he did, people would make his answer an issue. That’s rather what politics is about: taking stances on issues and selling them. Biden said virtually nothing about his stances on any issue, though he did say to solve violence in our cities, he’d get protestors, and police and other folks together in a room at the White House and talk things out, because he’s the guy who can unite America and bring everyone together. Oh yes: “Antifa is just an idea.”
Biden is taking a substantial risk here. Will the Socialist/Communist left give him “a wink and a nod” credit for not specifically saying what they know he believes and will do, or demand he be specific about spouting their talking points? One suspects Bernie, AOC and similar budding despots are not happy with Joe tonight.
Biden was also rude and disrespectful. Doubtless, Mr. Trump hoped to get Biden to blow up, and he came very close on several occasions. Biden called the President a “clown,” constantly accused him of lying—he provided no examples of a lie—and frequently accused him of using “dog whistles” and being a racist, again, providing not a single example. When Mr. Trump pressed Biden to answer Wallace’s question about packing the Supreme Court, saying: “Why aren’t you going to answer that question?” Biden replied: “Would you shut up, man?” Trump also asked Biden about his potential Supreme Court nominees: “Who is on your list, Joe?” Biden replied: “This is so unpresidential.”
Speaking about the Wuhan virus, Biden accused Trump of having no plan—he never produced his own—and launched into a bizarre rant about someone going to Wuhan or not going to Wuhan. I couldn’t understand it, and after 25 years in the English classroom, I can understand just about anything.
On the economy, Biden resorted to Marxist class warfare, attacking the wealthy—he’s going to tax their shorts off—and made another nonsense argument, essentially arguing—I think—schools and businesses can’t open without huge government handouts first. He also said the economy can’t be fixed until Covid is fixed first. I wonder if he has informed the virus? Maybe he can bring everyone together with that too.
Wallace did bring up that Biden’s platform included some four trillion in additional taxes. Biden claimed that would somehow create seven million jobs (?!), got confused, and was beginning to spin off into the weeds, but Wallace quickly rescued him and moved on.
Asked about race, Biden said it was about “equity, equality, decency,” and “It’s about the Constitution,” and again launched into a nonsensical rant about George Floyd, a protest outside the White House, a church, a bishop and it was somehow bad because Trump. I’m looking forward to a transcript; it made no sense to me.
Biden said “one in a thousand” black people had been killed by the Coronavirus, and if Trump gets reelected, “one in 500” will be killed.
At Wallace’s prompting, Biden agreed America is full of systemic racism, and managed to say: “violence is never appropriate.” That was one obviously drilled into his head by his debate coaches, and he rememvered! Oh, and Mr. Biden is now against defunding the police, though he asserted that one of Mr. Trump’s aides—he thought it might have been Kellyanne Conway—said the violence in D/S/C ruled cities actually helps Mr. Trump.
On “the science of climate change,” Biden said there would be “no more coal fired or oil fired plants.” He’s going to replace the entire federal fleet with electric vehicles—I wonder what the batteries for an M1 tank would weigh?—and plant a half million charging stations. He’s also going to weatherize lots of buildings, all of which is going to create millions of jobs.
Biden will immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, because the “Brazil rainforest is being torn down.” He lapsed into another nonsensical rant where he would be giving someone or other 20 billions dollars so they would stop tearing down the forest. When he loses his train of thought and his mouth races on ahead, he leans forward, his eyes become intense, almost black, his face tight, and his forehead sometimes wrinkles a little, as though he has desperately reaching for the next word.
The upshot of his climate change comments is, like Barack Obama, he alone will stop storms, wild fires and floods and save the planet. Perhaps this says it best:
The Green New Deal will pay for itself as it goes forward.
And the more you buy, the more you save. He would soon deny that he was going to implement the Green New Deal. He has his own special plan. I doubt AOC is thrilled about that.’
On election integrity, Biden asserted that we must allow people to vote in any way they please. He also asserted Mr. Trump is trying to keep people from voting. Biden tried to discourse on mail-in ballots, but again, lapsed into nonsense. It wasn’t “I have no idea who I am, where I am, or what language I’m speaking” nonsense, but it was nonsense nonetheless.
Final Thoughts: Oddly, there were no final statements by the candidates. Wallace simply declared the event over. Wallace didn’t quite fact check Trump in Candy Crowley style, but he certainly did his best to disrupt Mr. Trump, and prop up Biden.
While I prefer more of a Lincoln/Douglas format where candidates persuade by reason and logic, America isn’t there anymore. We are no longer arguing over small procedural differences, but over the very existence of the Republic. Donald Trump was elected because he is not a swamp creature, and because he promised to accomplish things and drain the swamp. He has kept his promises, but draining that swamp might be a generational task–not that he hasn’t tried and continues to try. As a result, he has been under constant attack, and it is a testament to his character that he continues to foil and frustrate his attackers. We elected a fighter, and that’s what we saw tonight, though unlike Joe Biden, he didn’t descend to name-calling.
Regarding fact checking, we can be sure the media will find fault in niggling ways, with Mr. Trump’s comments, though I didn’t see a single obvious lie. On the other hand, Mr. Biden engaged in the usual projection—he lied often and badly. He will surely not be called on any of it, even though his lies were bald, easily disproved, and egregious. To be entirely fair, I suspect he doesn’t remember much of it.
I didn’t expect Biden to debate at all. His handlers obviously managed to get his meds right and adjust his schedule so he would be relatively alert in the late evening. They rightly judged failing to debate would be more damaging than looking bad when he did. Will that relative luck continue into the next two debates? Will there be two more? Stay tuned.