Some thoughts on the Tuesday night Presidential debate, now that I’ve gone through the transcripts, some notes, and organized my thoughts:
First: What a train wreck. Both candidates insisted on talking over each other. Chris Wallace didn’t do a good job of keeping control, but one wonders if anyone could have done that. He did, on several occasions, put his thumb on the scale for Biden. He shouldn’t have done that, but he did, and the President called him out on it more than once, including saying “I’m supposed to be debating him, instead I’m debating you, but that’s OK.” President Trump seemed to be trying to deliberately provoke Biden at several points, to see if he would lose his temper. And he came very close to doing so on a number of occasions.
I pity whoever had to put together the transcripts.
A couple of key issues:
On climate change: President Trump noted he had withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate accords, rightly pointing out that it was a terrible deal as the major offenders in carbon production were not required to meet standards while the U.S. was expected to foot much of the bill. However, the President failed to note that the U.S. has in fact met those standards regardless of leaving the accords. Leaving that on the table was an oversight.
On unrest: Biden repeatedly refused to utter the words “law and order” and implied that “right-wing” and “white supremacist” agitators are responsible for much of the ongoing unrest in places like Portland. Utter horseshit.
Groper Joe refused, repeatedly, to answer questions about the Supreme Court; he wouldn’t say whether he would favor ending the filibuster, he wouldn’t name any judges he might appoint, and refused to answer whether he would seek to pack the Court. When the President pressed him on that point, Biden snapped “…would you shut up, man?”
Also: “Spooting?” I’m sure I heard Joe say “spooting.”
The President did hammer Groper Joe on his son’s Burisma and China shenanigans. Biden’s response? “None of that’s true. It’s not true.” Uh, I think it’s been established without question that Hunter Biden was cashing some big damn checks from some very questionable people, and the only reason he was in the position to do so is because his father was Vice President. That’s important, and the President was right to hammer him on it.
But Trump’s big advantage, especially with his supporters, was on the number of judges he’s appointed. He hammered Biden on how the Obama Administration left 128 Federal judge seats open. “You never leave judge seats open,” he said. He’s right. And the Obama Administration handed him that.
So who won? I think they both lost, to a certain degree, by turning in undisciplined performances, but Trump stayed on message and spent more time hammering home his big advantage: He actually has four years of things he’s done to talk about. The military, the VA, and the courts – those are big deals, and he knows it.
Still, I doubt this debate changed many minds. Both candidates were combative, both were rude, both constantly interrupted each other. I’m going to call this one more or less a draw, with a slight advantage to the President. Why? Because Joe Biden showed up to play a game whose rules have changed; he faced the man who has changed those rules, and old Groper Joe didn’t know how to react. He’s campaigning in the 2020 election cycle and playing with 1988 tactics.
Next week we have the second bananas, and I expect the tone will be much different.