Tuesday night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was an all-out brawl of incoherent insanity.
Banana Republic Brouhaha
Held in Cleveland, Ohio, the debate “moderated” by Fox News‘ Chris Wallace was supposed to be focused on the candidates’ records as well as the pandemic, the Supreme Court, economic performance, ongoing violence and racial tension across the country.
Instead the evening was focused on trying to hear what anyone was actually saying over the constant interruptions from Trump – and occasionally from Biden – and the endless, rapid digressions, accusations and lies.
It’s hard to overstate the manic meltdown that occurred during the debate. The bumbling brouhaha seemed more fitting to a banana republic and had about as much substance as peeling wallpaper. At times watching the verbal assault taking place onstage was genuinely nauseating.
Trump thoroughly overpowered Biden, heckling him minutes into the debate and undercutting everything he said two or three words into every sentence.
“Will you shut up, man?” Biden said at one point, cowering.
One-Way Bullet Train to Crazytown
The two gabbling garrulous gerontocrats duked it out onstage in front of an audience just under 100 who had been carefully screened for coronavirus at a clinic across the street. Trump, who was recently nominated for a third Nobel Peace Prize faced down the Delaware Senator as the debate went steadily off the rails into crazytown.
Sticking by standard politics and doing the “talking to the folks back home” tactic simply wasn’t effective in the hyperspeed schoolyard antics on display. Politics has becoming pro wrestling and the Hunter S. Thompson-esque fever dream of Tuesday night was sincerely alarming – not for reasons of “civility” and “norms” but because of how unintelligible most of it was even for political insiders.
This was even a step up from the 2016 Trump vs. Clinton debates which at least had some genuine repartee. This debate, by contrast, was like watching a scrolling stream of angry and nonsensical YouTube comments posted by howling monkeys.
Trump had several strong moments such as when talking about Democratic conspiring to take down his presidency which has now been revealed in documents and Biden fumbled several softballs such as lying about Hunter Biden taking money, flip-flopping on whether he supports the Green New Deal and refusing to answer about court packing, but most of the debate was just half-cocked statements from the President and attempts to redirect the discussion into personal attacks on Biden and his family.
This included a near-constant stream of misinformation and throwaway one-liners from Trump such as his bizarre lie that he has made insulin “so cheap, it’s like water.”
Not Learning the Lessons of 2016
The Democrats have apparently not learned much from 2016. Biden had several strong moments but mostly seemed out of his element as he was assailed constantly the whole night and let himself be bullied and talked down by Trump.
During the last election Trump partly one by making the race visceral and instinctive rather than rational or conversational. The Democratic inability to understand that and come up with a more aggressive candidate than Biden shows a remarkable lack of will to win or a perception of what politics has become.
Respectability politics is out and garbled answers on antifa and street violence aren’t going to cut it or reassure voters. However, more to the point, whose minds will actually be changed by watching this debate? If anything it will simply add new worries to Biden voters that he’s not up to the job and that his administration will simply be a Trojan horse for other people’s policies — which, incidentally was a core insinuation of many of Trump’s accusations during the “debate.”
Biden is stuck in an unwinnable political position between the progressive left and the center during a time of crisis. He may still win the election but if he does it will only be by default.
The Big Loser
The big loser of Tuesday night was indisputably Chris Wallace who managed to be completely overpowered by Trump despite trying to placate him (by telling Trump certain questions would make him “happy”) and then visibly siding with Biden on multiple occasions.
Wallace also interjected with his own opinions frequently, incorrectly referring to critical race theory as “racial sensitivity training” when in fact it’s a jobs program for radicals. Wallace also frequently regurgitated stale Democratic talking points to try to give Biden a lift as he flailed behind the podium.
Despite these hands up, Biden had many misses, failing to explain what it means to “reimagine” the police and blaming Trump for lack of economic growth while also saying more should have been done to shutdown to fight the coronavirus.
Next up, there will be a debate between Vice-President Mike Pence and Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris on October 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For those with a strong stomach, the next presidential debate is set for Oct. 15 in Miami with a final presidential debate to be held ten days prior to the election on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.