The first presidential debate was unquestionably a mess. However, since the beginning of the Trump administration, most everything that the president has waded into has been such. Though many potential voters believe that both sides lost Tuesday night, nothing could be further from the truth.
There were some conditions that both parties could agree constitute a win. For President Trump, convincing voters that Joe Biden is a “radical leftist” who is unfit for office and that absentee voting is unreliable and prone to corruption would have been optimal. For former Vice President Biden, it was appearing to be the steady candidate, not engaging in Trump’s mudslinging antics, and reassuring voters that he does not fit the laughable portrait Republican politicians paint of him. After having some time to digest the debate, I find myself counting this as a win for Biden more and more.
President Trump finds himself in quite the pickle. National polls show him down approximately seven points to Biden. Unsurprisingly, he was the aggressor in the debate; however, being the aggressor and being a bully are very different. By not allowing Joe Biden to finish a sentence, cutting off the moderator, making comments under his breath and offering no real solutions, but instead slanderous strawmen, Trump went from an aggressor to a bully. This hurt him horribly with the public, who have been embarrassed by his brash nature the past four years. One example that highlights this behavior was his cold retort, “I don’t know Beau,” to Joe Biden’s impassioned defense of his deceased son.
Interestingly, President Trump made a rare good point criticizing Biden for co-authoring the 1994 “Crime Bill,” a horribly regressive piece of legislation that has devastated black communities in the United States under the guise of being, “tough on crime.” However, President Trump immediately contradicted this good point by asserting that a Biden presidency would lead to chaos in the streets. Contradictions like these do not help his argument, but rather hurt it. The main points Trump needed to push against his opponent fell flat Tuesday.
By no means did former Vice President Biden have a stellar performance. Luckily for him, he didn’t need one. Most important for his night was presenting a sense of decorum, civility and class that the public has missed. Holding his own while constantly being interrupted, defending his family, and keeping his cool under the constant petulant attacks from his opponent led those who were leaning Biden to leave the debate reassured of their choice.
The greatest victory of Biden’s night came when he relentlessly crushed President Trump on his fumbling of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the president’s staggering incompetence and continued failure to listen to healthcare experts’ advice, which has resulted in a mass loss of life. Anyone who takes this situation seriously couldn’t consider the current administration equipped or willing to take the steps needed to get the US back on track with the rest of the world.
There are two debates left before the election. Expect more or less the same, as President Trump attempts to make up lost ground while former Vice President Biden looks to hold his lead.