THOUGHTS ON TUEZZDAY
I figure I’ve written too much of the paper already, so I asked reporters Hite and Page to give their takes on the first Presidential debate between Mssrs. Trump and Biden held on Tuesday. What follows is their Gen Z angle.
From Hite: As CNN’s Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper said, “That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.”
Tapper said this immediately after the debate and this was certainly the nationwide sentiment among any of the poor souls who watched.
But does it matter at all?
I could undoubtedly say something that enrages the right, left, or even both.
Cross a politically incorrect boundary or even question the Black Lives Matter movement and the left is out with pitchforks.
And the right is possibly worse. Somehow this orange-faced man is above any possible criticism. Hates veterans? Who cares. Doesn’t pay taxes? His team says he did. Ignored Covid? Oh, he shut down travel from China which saved the country.
Point is, everyone has already picked their side. If you think that you are one of the righteous few who claims to see both sides and is properly evaluating the pros and cons; shut the hell up. You’ve already picked your team – you know it – and will consistently refuse to listen to any of the rationale from the other side.
Both Trumpers and Liberals steadfastly believe this.
Trump has shown who he is and how he feels about who he is for not just four years, but more than 40 years. If you disagree, read my review of “The Art of the Deal” titled “A Wing and a Prayer” in the June 6, 2020 issue of The Sheet.
*The book was written in 1987
None of this is new. No one needed more information than they already had.
How do I know? Because I scoured the gambling markets looking at props for the debate. There was an over-under on when Trump would mention Hunter Biden. An over-under. Not a “Will Trump mention Hunter Biden?” but a “When will Trump mention Hunter Biden.”
There were over-unders on interruptions, on how many times Trump would say ‘Law and Order,’ mail-in ballots, corruption, China virus, Fake News – literally every single catch-phrase you can think of.
Trump was culpable for the absolute breakdown of rational discourse – no debating that. If you watched the debate and felt like ‘Sleepy Joe’ was the one that broke down the debate into a rock fight then I can honestly say I do not know what you were watching. Trump steered the debate towards emotional issues that polarize both sides.
For this reason, Trump likely won on Tuesday night. Because for some reason the left has time and again followed Trump into this ‘slander the other side’ game that Trump dominates. He gets them to play his game. And this is my final point. Maybe if we are talking about politics as a game, and even betting on politics like it is a game, we should evaluate the structural components as to how we got here and we should think about what we should do about it.
From Page: I didn’t even want to watch the debate. My mind already made up, I didn’t see the point. And I can’t stand listening to Trump. But I sat down on the couch after a good deal of mental steeling and let it rip.
To call it a debate is a misnomer; it was barely even a two-way conversation. The best moments of the night for each candidate came as they played to their strengths: Trump was a strong-willed advocate for law and order in American cities who puts the country above all else; Biden engaged the camera directly and came across as a compassionate, caring individual.
Trump was smug, self-assured and every bit the petulant, volatile president he portrays himself to be on Twitter. He took shots at Biden’s education (calling him not smart), Biden’s family (because Eric and Don Jr. are so impressive) , his age (three whole years older than Donald), and the “Radical Left” that he claims Biden represents. Biden opted to keep his jabs focused solely on the president.
If there is anyone to blame for the debate’s descent into chaos, it was Trump. One of the most frustrating things about his presidency has been his unwillingness to be civil, admit wrongs, or simply say the “right” thing. Given the opportunity to denounce white supremacists, he dodged the question when the seemingly obvious answer was abundantly clear. I have no doubt this is part of his appeal: he’s unabashed and lacks shame.
Biden didn’t have particularly a strong debate. I was looking for more policy and it wasn’t there. He did stay in the middle lane as opposed to drifting left where some more fervent Democrats want to see him go (Green New Deal, etc.). Trump’s unflinching assault on him, his policy, and his family clearly had an effect and he was lured into Trump’s tennis match on more than one occasion. Where Trump went low, Biden neglected to follow entirely, but still was pulled. He didn’t attack Trump for his lack of action on the Russian bounty program that targeted American soldiers, an issue he could’ve nailed Trump to the wall for. His best moments came when he looked straight at the camera, and spoke his truth. He accepted his son Hunter’s past addiction and expressed pride in Hunter’s ability to beat that addiction. He spoke on the holes left in everyone’s lives by Covid-19, the deaths and hospitalizations. He cared, not just about Democrats but the whole country.
Biden’s achilles heel: He just didn’t do an excellent job of convincing people; vague plans aren’t exciting.
It ultimately felt like Trump’s debate to lose. He came across as more self-assured and powerful than Biden. But it felt like the same old Donald, whereas some change or stature or growth would’ve been refreshing. And it felt like a child throwing a tantrum. He argued with the moderator Chris Wallace repeatedly on menial items, lobbed insults across the stage constantly. He even refused to say that he would concede the election (if he lost) and sought to debase its legitimacy. His goal has always been consolidating and appealing to his supporters, never to the opposition or moderates. And with each jab, each reference to debased conspiracies, each lie, and that kicker with refusing to deny white supremacy, he cinched his ring tighter and pushed others out.
I agreed with one take I read about the debate: Biden scored a passing C while Trump clocked in at an F.