October 1, 2020
The One Thing Everyone in America Can Agree On…
The First Presidential Debate Was a Mess
By Buck Sexton
Nobody was expecting Shakespearean oratory at the first presidential debate…
But Tuesday night’s debate was like watching a geriatric steel cage match.
Donald Trump, even to his most ardent supporters, has a gruff, free-wheeling style on stage against an opponent. He is magnetic when on the stump in front of his own supporters, which is why his rallies are a political phenomenon. Focusing on specifics in an exchange of opinions, however, isn’t a strong suit… Insults and jokes are his X-factor.
Joe Biden has been in politics longer than I’ve been alive, and he is well-practiced in delivering talking points while flashing an oleaginous Cheshire Cat grin. As we saw in his 2012 vice-presidential debate, he can come off like the proverbial angry uncle at Thanksgiving, and hardly anyone on either side of the aisle thinks of him as particularly bright.
Say what you will about either of these candidates as debaters and intellectuals, expectations for a substantive exchange on that debate stage in Ohio were minimal. And even with those low benchmarks, the first presidential debate of 2020 was a grating mess.
There was so much crosstalk, it was impossible to make out what either the president or his challenger were trying to say. Many of the barbs – Biden calling Trump a “clown,” Trump calling out Biden for being dumb – were grade-school-level insults from two of the most powerful political figures in the world. The name-calling wouldn’t have been so noticeable if there were more worthwhile exchanges on policy… There weren’t.
Chris Wallace, the moderator handpicked by Fox News, was a disaster. Yes, he had a hard job trying to keep Biden and Trump from stepping all over each other. But his inability to keep the debate on track was far less egregious than his one-sided questioning of Trump and multiple bail-out moments for Biden. Wallace (a registered Democrat) challenged Trump in a way that one would expect from an MSNBC commentator… It was obvious and pathetic.
When Biden was speaking, on the other hand, Wallace was deferential and even willing to throw him his assistance when needed. Perhaps the most egregious moment of the whole night came when Wallace asked the president the loaded question of would he “condemn white supremacists.”
Wallace also introduced the “very fine people on both sides” lie about Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville white supremacists in 2017, which is absurd. A quick read of the transcript from that press conference shows that was a misrepresentation of what Trump said, and Wallace can’t be ignorant of that. Worse, perhaps he knows and doesn’t care.
Trump landed some shots, though not nearly as many as he would have if the moderator wasn’t constantly interrupting him or changing the subject. The attacks on Hunter Biden’s overseas corruption may not move a lot of independent voters, but Trump’s base loves it when the president attacks Democrat self-dealing and hypocrisy. Trump also had the advantage on law and order issues, including when Biden said the now-infamous “Antifa is an idea, not an organization.”
Biden delivered the boilerplate attacks on Trump that everyone was expecting… COVID-19 response, battered economy, not “believing the science,” racially dividing the country, the (hoax) story in the Atlantic that Trump thinks the military are losers – all the usual commentary one would see on CNN or MSNBC on any given night.
Biden’s biggest “victory” was that he showed up for the debate in person, didn’t fade out into a “senior moment” of gibberish, and showed he will fight as dirty as he has to in order to win this election. If there’s one thing Trump respects about Biden (and even that may be asking too much), it’s that he doesn’t let principles get in the way of his ambition.
Will there even be a second debate? It seems likely, though some in the Biden camp already want to declare victory and just wait for the votes to come in on November 3. They would be wise to take a look at post-debate poll numbers on Telemundo that show among the Latino community, Trump was considered the clear winner.
Regardless, the American people didn’t learn much last night about either candidate, although they did see a reflection of a deeply divided country that seeks to dominate instead of persuade the other side.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
This Election is a Simple Choice – Capitalism vs Socialism
By condemning Trump and pushing for Biden, the mainstream media is effectively condemning capitalism in support of socialism. Without a capitalist in charge of our country, we risk a descent into an economic crisis worse than the Great Depression.
Mortgages Set for Worst September Performance in Half a Decade
Despite massive support from the Fed, mortgage-backed securities are on track for their worst September performance in five years…
The Real Cost of Government Protection
The two old, white men running for president are both champions of the same worn-out, degenerate scam. Neither will admit that it doesn’t work. Neither will propose to change it.
Rolls-Royce’s $400,000 Attempt at a Low-Key, ‘Minimalist’ Sedan
To avoid the stigma luxury carries in Covid times, Roll-Royce is trying to rebrand as ‘post-opulent.’ The new Ghost isn’t the best argument…
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Executive Editor, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
October 1, 2020