“That was a shitshow” -Dana Bash
Honestly, a great way to sum up last night by the CNN anchor about the absolute debacle that Donald Trump and Joe Biden put on national TV. It was basically 96 minutes of pure chaos and attacks. It’s really hard to pin down 1 moment that can crown a candidate the winner of the debate and truthfully in the polls it will probably turn out to be a wash.
Obviously each side of the media is going to claim victory for their candidate. I think just as we saw with the 2016 debates, we won’t actually know who won this until the election is over. Realistically, no one has any idea who won that mess and to pretend otherwise is just a dishonest approach in acting like you truly understand the American psyche. It’s okay to say that you don’t know. I don’t. We don’t.
What I can say is that was ~quite~ divisive and uncivil. Neither candidate seemed to have any interest in helping heal the divide of the current state of our country and only looked to completely tear down his opponent. This happened from the start and there was very little substance talked about throughout the night. Both candidates were constantly talking over each other and it pretty much wasted at least 30% of the actual debate.
Overall, I thought Trump had good moments and some glaring bad ones. I thought Joe had mostly flat moments and then some bad ones as well.
I think Dan Bongino actually summed up this first debate quite well in his initial post debate analysis. He said that basically this first debate, and election overall, is a base election. I think it’s safe to say that the President did a great job riling up his base to get ready to vote. He attacked Joe Biden on things from his lockdown approaches, long time in Washington, and issues in China/Russia. Trump showed he is still a fighter and has the energy to go to bat for issues he and his supporters cares about. Joe was, for lack of a better term, sleepy. Trump may not have had the best tone at all times, but neither did Joe. Biden resorted to just as many, if not more, personal attacks at Trump and Joe seemed like he was overmatched throughout much of the conversation. It was not a good look for Trump when he didn’t mention NAFTA or fracking once during the show to go after Joe’s record.
Trump did do a pretty good job going after Joe in terms of the Green New Deal, law and order, and his confusing stance on health care to try and fracture Joe’s base of the progressive wing of the Democratic party. It’s pretty obvious to see and Trump’s ability to use both strength and some humor was clearly on display.
Trump’s bit about Joe using some of the biggest masks he’s ever seen was just humor. It was truly a funny joke, no matter what your opinions on masks are. He also pinned some what-should-be easy to answer questions about accusations Joe put out that the former VP couldn’t answer, like naming a law enforcement endorsement. Biden responding to Trump with “we don’t have time”, after the President said they did have time was a good exchange for Trump.
Joe claimed he “is” the Democratic party, but then constantly had to refute the policy stances that have been proposed by his party.
But like I said there wasn’t really any substance that went into this session. I think that was in part of Trump bringing up many of the questions that Joe has relatively been able to dodge throughout his basement campaign. Trump brought up Biden’s son Hunter and his shady dealings in Russia, Ukraine, and China. The President tried to press Biden on these issues but Biden relatively strayed away and basically claimed “fake news”. He did have a good response when talking about Hunter overcoming drug addiction, in what I thought was a low and unnecessary blow from Trump. But still, Joe didn’t answer how his son enriched himself while he was in office. These are fair questions that people have and Joe is not interested in the conversation.
Joe also completely dodged the question about ending the filibuster and packing the supreme court. It was embarrassing that he was still allowed to not answer that question. I found that inexcusable. No matter what your thoughts on Chris Wallace was about this debate, that point should be universally agreed upon. It’s a pretty basic question and Biden saying he’ll deal with it once he gets in office is a troubling stance to take.
It did at times feel like Trump was debating both Chris Wallace and Joe Biden. People from Trump’s side will say that it was a 1 vs. 2 person matchup and it’s kinda hard to dispute. Obviously, one can say that it’s because we don’t want to allow Trump to say factually incorrect statements, but the same vigor that Wallace had towards the President was not equal towards Biden. Wallace claimed he would relatively stay out of the conversation but I think both sides will argue that he did a terrible job moderating that fiasco. Honestly, I expected him to do better in terms of facilitating, not conducting, the conversation.
Biden’s approach to talk right into the camera and try and be level with the American people was also a positive for his night. I’m not sure if it was enough to convince or persuade voters but it was definitely a start.
The contrast was clear. But we also knew that already.
The biggest mainstream story to come out of the night that the media will grab on to was Trump seemingly refusing to denounce white supremacy. This was a heated moment and if you rewatch it’s pretty clear Trump was able and willing to denounce whatever group of hate Wallace asked. Should he have been clearer? Yes, 1000% but it’s also important to note that Biden reiterated the idea that ANTIFA wasn’t a real thing and again after claiming that he “is the democrat party” he said he would have no power or influence to tell the mayors of Portland or Chicago to regain control of their cities after months of riots. To me, that showed lack of initiative and leadership.
That isn’t me defending Trump on the matter, it’s just the facts of what happened. Trump was getting attacked on 2 fronts and said something incredibly dumb by saying the “stand back, stand by” line. But if you actually rewatch the clip he is totally willing to denounce any kind of hate idea or group. Biden was not willing to do so. And in the same debate Joe Biden couldn’t refute the facts around the ’94 crime bill and how Trump attacked him in that segment. Both men have a clear, troubled history of talking about race and racism.
In all, it sucks that these are the best this country has to offer. Even though that may not necessarily be the case, as of right now it totally is. One of my favorite tweets from the night was Megyn Kelly claiming the only real winner of the night may have been Kanye.
Don’t forget, we really don’t know who won. I remember back in 2016 many felt the same exact way on both sides post debate. The good news is there are 2 more scheduled debates and a Vice Presidential debate next week. Some are trying to make rumblings that these may not happen, but I don’t believe it. Both sides are so delusional they both think they hit it out of the park. Again, only time will really tell. I think with the idea that Trump is having trouble pinning an attack on Biden, last night showed that Biden is just kind of a shell of his former self who would get his “lunch eaten” by other world leaders.
Freedom will prevail, but it’s up to us to pave that path.