Recap: The (Terrible) First Debate
Train wreck, schoolyard brawl, old men yelling — whatever you call it, it wasn't pretty.
Last night’s first presidential debate [debacle], which came to us from Case Western Reserve University’s Cleveland Clinic, wasn’t the ugliest of things. A plucked chicken, for example, is uglier — but not by much.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, “President Trump and Joe Biden clashed over the Supreme Court, the coronavirus and the economy in a debate marked by interruptions and insults from both candidates Tuesday — with the Republican leader telling his rival that for ‘47 years you’ve done nothing’ and the Democratic challenger calling Mr. Trump ‘the worst president that America has ever had.’”
The Journal, though, doesn’t quite do justice to that “47 years” remark. In a night of petty insults and never-ending interruptions, it seemed to have staying power. “Let me just tell you, Joe,” the president said, “in 47 months, I’ve done more than you’ve done in 47 years.” If reelections are indeed a referendum on the incumbent, the president should wash, rinse, and repeat that barb.
To be fair, though, all those years as a professional politician have honed Biden’s reflexive rhetorical abilities, especially when he referred to the president as “this clown,” a “racist,” and a “liar,” and told him to “shut up.”
“I’ll do all in my power to make the case why he shouldn’t be reelected,” Biden said. But he certainly can’t make the case for why he, himself, should be elected. As Trump put it, “He would allow left-wing anarchists to burn down your businesses. He would hand over your jobs to China, and your country to socialists.” Ouch.
As we noted in yesterday’s debate primer, though, the bar for a “successful” Biden performance had been set preposterously low — so low, in fact, that if Barack Obama’s backslapper stayed on his feet and didn’t drool, he’d be perceived by the mainstream media as having won. Mission accomplished, at least in that regard.
Among the most contentious topics was Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacancy. And were our mainstream media an honest and serious lot, the headlines today would be talking about Biden’s refusal to answer a simple question put to him by moderator Chris Wallace: whether he’d refuse to pack the Supreme Court with additional justices and refuse to do away with the Senate’s legislative filibuster. When it became clear that Biden wouldn’t answer the question, Trump let him have it. He should continue to do so throughout the remainder of the campaign. The American people have a right to know whether the man they vote for is committed to preserving or wrecking American institutions.
President Trump drove home his law-and-order bona fides, noting that the rioting that has plagued our nation for the past four months has taken place in states and cities controlled by Democrats. The president also repeatedly challenged Biden to name even a single law enforcement organization that’s supporting him. Biden couldn’t do it.
Trump contrasted his economic record against that of the Obama-Biden administration, which he accurately noted had produced the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. If, as former Clinton campaign adviser James Carville once famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid,” then the president scored points here as well, although he could’ve and should’ve done a better job of citing the specifics of his economic record and the constituencies that have benefited.
The president also missed a couple of golden opportunities to correct two damaging falsehoods that the Biden campaign has been shamefully re-repeating: that Trump was referring to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville when he said there were “very fine people on both sides,” and that he called our troops “suckers” and “losers” while in France for a World War I commemorative event in 2018.
As to the former, even CNN’s Jake Tapper has dismissed it Biden’s “fine people” lie as false. President Trump has repeatedly condemned racists and has done what Obama and Biden could have done but didn’t: He designated the KKK a terrorist organization.
Regarding Biden’s “suckers” and “losers” lie, the president should’ve interrupted Biden mid-sentence to denounce that despicable fabrication, which has since been refuted by more than a dozen people with firsthand knowledge, including some eyewitnesses. Trump has spent the last four years rebuilding and reenergizing our military and its warriors — who were greatly demoralized by the Obama/Biden regime.
Trump hammered away on Hunter Biden and his shady and lucrative dealings with Ukraine and China. Obviously, Biden wouldn’t respond to those allegations, but nobody would know Hunter Biden’s name if not for VP Joe’s influence in those foreign nations.
As Biden’s attempt to assert that mail-ballot voter fraud was a myth, when in fact mail ballots are the centerpiece of the Democrat’s 2020 victory plan, according to the following, it is no myth:
Former President Jimmy Carter declared, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” For much of his long Senate career, Joe Biden tried numerous times to pass legislation increasing penalties for voter fraud. Police are investigating possible voter fraud in Minneapolis. The Texas attorney general recently filed more than 100 charges of voter fraud and he may have a much bigger case involving Biden’s Texas political director. The Trump campaign may sue Philadelphia for blocking poll watchers In Pennsylvania, military ballots marked for Trump were found in the trash. In Virginia, more than 1,000 voters received two ballots. In New York, 100,000 voters received were sent invalid ballots. There are hundreds of thousands of dead people still on state voter rolls, and countless illegal aliens. According to the Heritage Foundation, at least 20 elections have been overturned since 1992 because of voter fraud.
If last night’s debate had a silver lining that both campaigns can agree on, it’s that neither of them lost a single vote. After all, who could’ve watched that performance and been moved by the brilliance, the command, and the presidential bearing of the other guy? According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only 11% of voters suggest that their vote is up for grabs, while more than 70% said the debate wouldn’t matter much to them.
But where Biden probably isn’t hurt by this inability to persuade the few undecideds out there, Trump could’ve made some needed inroads had his performance been a bit less bare-knuckled and a bit more fact-based and presidential. This is especially true with women, whose support explains Biden’s steady lead in the polls. For what it’s worth, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, Trump lost women to Hillary Clinton by 13 percentage points in 2016, but he’s losing them to Biden by a staggering 31 percentage points now.
Someone once said that politics ain’t beanbag, and it certainly wasn’t last night. Immediately afterward, CNN’s Tapper called it “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.” His colleague, a dumbstruck Dana Bash, called it a “s—t show.” It may very well have been. But those who enjoy the sweet sounds of squealing brakes, crying babies, and fingernails on a chalkboard weren’t disappointed.