• Nathan Max

Trump Turns Debate Into Farce


Photo credit: Evan Vucci and Patrick Semansky/AP. Undecided voters couldn't glean much from Tuesday's first debate.

Lincoln-Douglas, this was not.


The first presidential debate descended into anarchy from the very beginning, as President Donald Trump interrupted, insulted and inveighed against former Vice President Joe Biden over and over.


Trump brought chaos to the debate in the same manner he has brought chaos to the presidency. It was a disgraceful performance from a man who has disgraced a once-venerable office and brought needless suffering and division to a once-proud nation.


Biden didn’t exactly have an exemplary night either, frequently stammering as he tried in vein to get a word in edgewise. At the end of the day, Biden supporters will be furious that their candidate was barely given a chance to speak, Trump supporters will love the way their candidate used his bully pulpit to be a bully, and what few undecided voters there are remaining will be left scratching their heads and asking themselves what the hell did we all just witness.


Trump’s strategy, if you could call it a strategy, appeared to be to run roughshod over the proceedings. Time and again, moderator Chris Wallace scolded the president like a kindergarten teacher would a child.


As Wallace noted, the Trump campaign agreed to the rules. And, as he so often does, Trump stamped his feet all over them. Are we really to be surprised that the same man who doesn’t respect the rule of law, cheats on his taxes and has gotten away with pretty much everything his entire life would act as if the rules didn’t apply to him? It’s what he does.


The irony is that Trump might have been better off just letting Biden talk. The former vice president struggled to gain a footing, or come up with an effective way to deal with Trump’s nonsense. At first he smiled a lot, but he later called the president a clown and a racist.


At one point, Biden echoed what millions of Americans had to be thinking themselves when he told the president, “Will you shut up, man?”


Trump’s behavior Tuesday night was inexcusable. Is this the temperament of a president? Is this the temperament of a man we want in charge of the nuclear codes?


Perhaps Trump decided to turn the debate into a farce intentionally to distract from his indefensible record. That record shows nearly 210,000 Americans have died as a result of his mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis, on top of an economy that had cratered. Millions remained unemployed, while his administration has done little to break the stimulus stalemate.


Trump went ahead and told all his lies, as everyone expected, and he continued to try and discredit the election.


Perhaps most disturbing of all, he couldn’t even bring himself to disavow white supremacists. He told the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group known for their affinity for wearing Fred Perry-brand clothing, to “stand back and stand by,” whatever that means.


Donald Trump is on the ropes. Every poll has him way behind, so like a cornered and wounded animal he came out swinging tonight, throwing haymaker after haymaker. The only problem for him is he didn’t land a punch.


And the man made himself look like a fool in the process.

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