Many found it almost impossible to get real political insight into the candidates from the throng of interruptions and personal attacks. But it wasn’t hard to come up with a list of norm-shaking moments: a seated president refusing to think about the election fair invited a white power group to “step back and stand by,” and ran over time limits as moderator and his opponent’s attempts to speak.
So what did it all do? The mean? Nothing good for people who care about the welfare of civil society. “It’s going to be an ugly election day sprint,” wrote one. Here’s what they focused on.
- 1 “That wasn’t a debate”
- 2 “Biden struggled to define himself outside of the” anti-law-and-order “framework that Trump penned him into.”
- 3 “As far as possible, Biden was the calm in Trump’s chaos”
- 4 “Cleveland has not seen such a spectacular auto-da-fé since the Cuyahoga River caught fire.”
- 5 “The debate made it clear that democracy is on the ballot in these elections.”
- 6 “It’s going to be an ugly election day sprint”
- 7 “It’s chaos. It’s anger. It doesn’t follow the rules.
- 8 “The untested jokes and exhalations that interrupted this” debate “revealed more about any man than any scripted line or skilled zinger”
- 9 “Maybe Trump killed the tradition of presidential debates”
- 10 “Donald Trump made a substantive discussion about anything but impossible”
- 11 “The moderator should be able to turn off a candidate’s microphone.”
- 12 “The most important thing that happened was when millions of Americans just turned off”
- 13 “It was the most unworthy, non-presidential presidential debate in the history of the country.”
- 14 “It seems pretty clear that Trump intends to postpone the elections to the last possible moment.”
- 15 Trump relied on the instincts that the followers cast off
- 16 “His outright lies … do not affect voters who have lived through four years of failure.”
- 17 “A clear contrast”
- 18 “Trump acted similarly to Biden in 2012, but didn’t have the same effect.”
- 19 “It wasn’t Biden’s best debating performance so far, but he held his own”
- 20 “Es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass diese Debatte viele Meinungen geändert hat.”
“That wasn’t a debate”
Jennifer Victor is Professor of Political Science at George Mason University, Associate Editor of Oxford Handbook of Political Networks and a member of the board of directors of the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.
It wasn’t a debate. The event was almost impossible to follow as President Trump kept interrupting the presenter and Joe Biden. In a functioning democracy, political opponents respect each other’s right to participate in the political arena. This event had none of the characteristics of a structured event aimed at involving political opponents in an exchange of content. Trump behaved like a tyrant or abuser who had to control his surroundings. As the underdog who lagged behind in the polls, he appeared caged, insane, and scared.
Trump dominated the event with his noise and contributed to the fact that 90 minutes of television were not seen. It was closer to a choreographed professional wrestling event than a professional political event. Some of his supporters will have found the event entertaining and encouraging. The president pathetically encouraged white supremacy by responding directly to the moderator’s question on the issue, telling “Proud Boys” to “step back and stand by,” which a leader tells his supporters, not the people he denounces. In America, democracy is in decline and that was evident at this event.
“Biden struggled to define himself outside of the” anti-law-and-order “framework that Trump penned him into.”
Douglas Schoen is a political analyst, campaign advisor, and former advisor to President Bill Clinton.
After the first presidential debate, the night’s biggest benefit was that there were no surprises and nothing happened that could change attitudes, cause a candidate to win or lose votes, or convince undecided voters in one way or another. Although the debate was controversial and at times personal, there was a lack of real or meaningful policy-oriented discussions between the two candidates that could change voters’ minds.
Indeed, the content of the debate was entirely predictable. President Trump was the weakest on the coronavirus while Biden was the strongest on that area. The pandemic is a clear political vulnerability for the president and during the debate Trump sought to communicate a compelling case for his handling of the crisis. Trump also lashed out and turned on the subject when Biden attacked the president for failing to lead the pandemic. He once called Biden stupid and questioned his college record.
However, when the conversation turned away from the coronavirus, Trump’s substance performance slowly improved, while Biden’s slowly waned. On the question of the economy that followed the coronavirus segment, Trump improved on the previous discussion and both candidates performed roughly evenly. And by the time the conversation turned into a discussion of racial relations and law and order, Trump was in complete control of the discussion, and that was a clear flaw for the former Vice President. Indeed, Biden struggled to define himself outside of the “anti-law-and-order” framework that Trump had penned him into, and he struggled to respond to Trump’s attacks on violence and unrest in democratic-run cities.
“As far as possible, Biden was the calm in Trump’s chaos”
Alex Castellanos is a Republican strategist, founder of Purple Strategies, and political analyst for ABC News.
Apparently, I have prepared myself for the wrong debate. I saw children debate, interrupt, call each other names, never listen to dad. But Joe Biden pretended to be a few years older than Donald Trump. Biden looked into the camera and spoke calmly and directly to the voters. He often shook his avuncular head and smiled in response to Trump’s attacks. He gave as best as possible in exchange with the heavyweight champion and showed that he also had the strength of the president. He did not show up in his World War I uniform and spoke clearly and with few trips to pass the test of mental agility. As far as possible, Biden was the calm in Trump’s chaos. Trump was Trump, the alpha predator in the political jungle. No strategy, just kill and eat.
This is what scares the handful of swing voters America has left. If anything changes as a result of this debate, it will not help Donald Trump. And now he’s going to lose the Nascar race after the debate: for the next week the media will repeat Biden’s smooth laps and Trump’s car accidents. Trump had to show calm strength on Tuesday evening, no chaotic muscles. He didn’t do it. We should all hire Trump’s accountants because we are closer to President Biden than yesterday to raise our taxes.
“Cleveland has not seen such a spectacular auto-da-fé since the Cuyahoga River caught fire.”
Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of the National Interest.
Donald Trump did it again. His last accomplishment was smashing another venerable institution on Tuesday evening. Cleveland has not seen such a spectacular Auto-Da-Fé since the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Trump not only ignited the debates but also his own presidential aspirations. His defiant refusal to condemn white supremacy and renounce post-election violence, let alone petulant ridicule, played into the hands of Joe Biden. Is Trump proud of the Proud Boys? It seems so.
Biden wisely allowed Trump to indulge in a walking repository of what Shakespeare called “the insolence of office”. Trump has charged himself. Biden never lost his temper. Trump didn’t have it at all. Biden made little attempt to address Trump other than claiming that he would rather play golf than rule. Instead, he followed the old debating principle of convincing the audience, not your opponent. Game, set and match to Biden.
“The debate made it clear that democracy is on the ballot in these elections.”
Jennifer Lawless is Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, whose research focuses on political ambition, campaigns and elections, and media and politics.
The first presidential debate can only be remembered for Chaos and Donald Trump’s complete disregard for his opponent, the moderator and the rules of the Presidential Debate Commission. In a way, that’s understandable. Trump’s interruptions, personal insults and a general refusal to adhere to the format made it difficult for viewers to focus on the content of the candidates’ responses. But that is a shame, because the debate has made it clear that democracy is on the ballot in these elections.
Almost every topic the candidates dealt with offered them the opportunity to adopt or avoid democratic values. Joe Biden decided to give her a hug. He recognized systemic inequality and racial discrimination. He articulated that health care is a fundamental human right. He said he would fight for fairer tax legislation. Trump, on the other hand, refused to condemn whites’ supremacy, doubled the evils of racist awareness training, offered no health plan, and bragged about using tax legislation that benefits the rich.
Biden and Trump also offered very different views on democratic rule. Trump refused to say he would trust the election results or encourage his supporters to keep calm while the votes are counted. Biden’s positions? The exact opposite.
Never before has the contrast between two presidential candidates – in their own words – been so strong. That’s because until Trump’s candidacy in 2016, promoting democratic values and governance was not controversial. The parties did not agree on how to do this, but they shared the same general goals. Democracy itself was not an issue.
Until Tuesday evening. When the debate ended, a friend wrote to me: “Democracy cried tonight. No small tears, as if she struck her toe. But big sobs, as if she had lost her teddy bear. “The two men fighting to fill the Oval Office have fundamentally different views on the importance of upholding values and supporting the institutions that underpin our democratic government. Last but not least, the debate made this meticulously clear to the American people.
“It’s going to be an ugly election day sprint”
Michael Starr Hopkins is a Democratic strategist who participated in the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Delaney.
If aliens came down to take over the world and watch the President’s performance on Tuesday night, they wouldn’t consider us worthy. Vice President Joe Biden tried to make his case the next President of the United States, but was continually interrupted. Even so, Biden looked like a steady hand: he displayed the kind of energy and strength required to tolerate the constant interruptions and attacks, while also managing to fight back against the president’s lies. Biden’s response to the Covid issue will play well with Americans who fear the future.
Conversely, the president spoke directly to his base and showed neither empathy nor leadership. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, you can’t be proud of the president’s achievement. Trump acted like a kid spinning at the deep end of the pool. Nobody won the first presidential debate. It only confirmed what we all already knew: it will be an ugly election day sprint.
“It’s chaos. It’s anger. It doesn’t follow the rules.
Sophia A. Nelson is an American author, political strategist, opinion writer, and former House Republican Committee attorney.
The deepest line of the night for me was when Vice President Biden spoke about the amazing US death toll from Covid-19 and looked Trump in the face and said, “It is what it is. Because you are who you are. “
That line summed up the entire debate – and the state of our nation under Donald Trump’s leadership. It’s chaos. It’s anger. It doesn’t follow the rules. It’s violence. It’s bullying. It’s disrespect.
The debate was like nothing we’ve ever seen. It was an embarrassment to our citizens and to our once glorious republic in the eyes of the world. Joe Biden won the debate because he acted like a civilized statesman. Donald Trump was bad even for Donald Trump. Chris Wallace lost the debate as moderator because he lost control of the debate.
The question for all of us now is: will there actually be more debates after the terrible, terrifying horror show on Tuesday night?
“The untested jokes and exhalations that interrupted this” debate “revealed more about any man than any scripted line or skilled zinger”
Margaret Hoover is a conservative commentator, political strategist, and writer and host for Firing Line on PBS.
You may have missed the most important thing in the debate. It wasn’t the attacks or insults, it was the side effects, the meaningful statements that were uttered almost under the breath of the candidates.
For example, when host Chris Wallace said, “Mr. Mr President, your campaign agreed that both sides would have two minutes and the answers would be uninterrupted. Your side agreed. Watch what your campaign agreed on. “Biden said,” He never keeps his word. ” Boom.
This clarified Biden’s key argument about Trump – and was the most effective way of getting the point across. While Biden had several rehearsed lines about Donald Trump’s many lies, it resonated because, in a moment of desperation, the audience could see that if President Trump couldn’t play by the rules he’d agreed to, how about everything in the world he can be expected to keep his word to the American people? Biden’s side highlighted what became clear from the exchange: The President is not trustworthy.
In contrast, President Trump’s side effects were disruptions to the moderator and his opponent’s responses, intended to cheer Biden on, rip him off and try to throw him off balance. The most revealing side of the president, however, came when he was pressured to forego white supremacists and instead said first, “Proud guys, step back and stand by” before confusingly countering the anarchist group Antifa. Again, President Trump finds it difficult to condemn Proud Boys, a group of the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group known for their anti-Muslim and misogynist rhetoric that is known to have emerged at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. The President’s failure to forego a hate group in giving the American people the chance and instead telling them to “stand by” shows how Trump promotes unrest.
The untested jokes and exhalations that interrupted this “debate” revealed more about any man than any scripted line or skilled squirming. They reveal contrasting portraits of Biden’s frustration, the opportunity to discuss ideas, to take seriously, versus Trump’s angry sparring contest, who resented having to submit to the humiliating process of democracy.
“Maybe Trump killed the tradition of presidential debates”
Bob Shrum is a former political strategist and director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California.
Trump’s strategy is to turn the debates into a dumpster fire against steroids. He did nothing to win over the suburbs, the highly educated white women, the elderly, and the colored people. He has offered his base a basic appeal – and he cannot close the gap with that. The alienating nature of his behavior was reinforced by his answers and his inventions. The white supremacists Proud Boys, he says, should “step back and stand by” when the ballot papers are counted. You seem to be using that as now slogan on their social media accounts. It was the deepest moment in the history of the presidential debates.
The meme “Sleepy Joe” is over. Biden refused to be bullied, was effectively pushed back, and was strong all the way. Trump may not be toast yet, but he’s in the toaster. It has been said that everything he touches dies, and maybe he killed the tradition of presidential debates on Tuesday night. I hope not. However, two more of these debates in 2020 will only affect our democracy.
“Donald Trump made a substantive discussion about anything but impossible”
Tom Nichols is a professor at US Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters.
This wasn’t a debate. It was an ongoing attack by the President of the United States on the American system of government. In terms of politics, there is nothing to comment on. Donald Trump made a substantive discussion about anything but impossible. But Trump made a few things clear: he doesn’t take responsibility for the pandemic deaths on his watch, he refuses to condemn white supremacists, he wants his supporters to be part of voter intimidation, and he intends to keep any election result to question that he doesn’t don’t like. Every sense of decency, every possibility that an election is a contest between Americans who want the best for the nation went out the window as Trump desperately railed – and lied repeatedly. Any reasonable consideration of this debate can only lead to two conclusions: One is that there is something profoundly wrong with Donald Trump, spiritually and emotionally. The other is that the president will attack anyone and anything, that he will sacrifice any principle, ignore any norm, and even break any law that he believes stands in the way of remaining in office. Trump has brought a new shame to his own country, and we should be appalled that our fellow citizens, our children, our allies – and especially our enemies – have now put down the United States in ways that few of us thought possible had five years ago.
“The moderator should be able to turn off a candidate’s microphone.”
Michael Kazin is Professor of History at Georgetown University and Associate Editor of Dissent. He is writing a history of the Democratic Party.
What happened on Tuesday evening wasn’t a debate, it was a confirmation. Both Trump and Biden revealed what every American who has paid attention to this campaign and presidency and who has been honest with himself already knew: Donald Trump is a narcissistic, insecure bully who is incapable of doing anything Admitting failure or showing empathy towards anyone. Joe Biden is a career politician of average intelligence who hardly inspires anyone but genuinely cares about individuals and a society in pain. Every answer – or rather every interruption and insult – only provided more evidence of these realities.
But Trump got off worse because he couldn’t play against an adorable crowd that would have cheered his degrading attacks. In the fight for dominance by Biden and the presenter, he looked and sounded like an aggressive guy that few people would tolerate as a party or dinner guest.
Another thing we learned should also be obvious: in the next two of these events, the moderator should have the option to turn off a candidate’s microphone if he interrupts his rival. Otherwise, Americans should boycott the non-debates and read a book or find a playoff basketball or baseball game to watch instead.
“The most important thing that happened was when millions of Americans just turned off”
Charles Ellison is a political strategist and talk radio host.
Joe Biden should seriously consider not participating in the remaining debates. That wasn’t productive. The most important thing that happened was probably at 9:30 p.m., at the moment, half an hour later, when millions of Americans just turned off and possibly switched channels as well.
Tuesday evening showed the American people that the current president has no interest in productive and civil exchanges on how he is going to lead the country through a crisis – should his attempt to suppress and steal elections be successful. He has no plan and doesn’t care about you. The problem here is that I can’t really remember anything that Trump was saying all along. The President talked about himself all the time. The most alarming points of this conversation that people will remember: 1) An American president still refuses to condemn white domestic terrorists and issues bizarre activation codes (“stand by, stand by” the Proud Boys). And: 2) an American president so afraid of loss that he re-suggested that there would be widespread electoral fraud.
Tuesday evening there are no both sides. We’re no better off now than we were four years ago. The president might underestimate how exhausted everyone is. People are dying, every crisis indicator is on high alert while the nation is on a tailspin – and the president is acting like an idiot.
“It was the most unworthy, non-presidential presidential debate in the history of the country.”
Michelle Bernard is a political analyst, lawyer, author, and President and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy.
It was the most unworthy, presidential presidential debate in the history of the country. The presenter seemed powerless in his ability to argue and control Trump and sometimes Biden. Trump was like a wild beast relentlessly attacking his opponent and the moderator. Between lying, attribution, and dog whistling, he told the world everything we needed to know about him: He’s not the president of all Americans. He is the president of those who would deny American women the right to vote. He is the president of those who would deny healthcare to millions of Americans. He is the president of those who equate democratic norms with socialism. He is the president of those who do not believe in science. He is the president of those who believe that those who died in war are “losers” and “fools”. And he is the president of those who refuse to condemn white supremacists, who refuse to say that black lives matter, and who believe that killing unarmed black women and men under the guise of “law and order” is an act of patriotism.
After Tuesday night, the American people might very well say, “Smallpox on presidential debates! Give me Biden or give me Netflix. “
“It seems pretty clear that Trump intends to postpone the elections to the last possible moment.”
Alan Schroeder is Professor at the Journalism School at Northeastern University in Boston. Schröder is the author of several books, including Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign.
This debate is not going to detract from Joe Biden’s lead in the polls, or help Donald Trump overcome his deficit. From a substance standpoint, very little was offered – or at least very little got through. Biden may not have been able to get a clear message across in the midst of the madness, but his performance should once and for all disrupt the stereotype of Sleepy Joe who was afraid to come out of his basement.
Perhaps the most lively – not to mention threatening – exchange took place at the very end of the discussion about electoral integrity. It seems pretty clear that Trump intends to postpone the election to the last possible moment in order to keep his reality show airborne for as long as possible. If this exchange doesn’t get voters to stand up and pay attention, nothing will.
Trump relied on the instincts that the followers cast off
Atima Omara is the founder and main strategist of the Omara Strategy Group. She has been an elected Virginia representative on the Democratic National Committee since 2016.
Trump should try to use this debate to bring back suburban white women voters and the white working class women he bled from his support. Instead, as usual, he relied on his dark instincts to push them away.
Trump appealed to white supremacists by refusing to denounce them, he made fun of Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s addiction struggles, and he lied about election fraud and refused to say that if he lost he would admit the election. Biden had strong moments when he switched Trump’s attack on Hunter’s addictions to a joint fight across many American households, and he encountered the urgency of the pandemic – both regarding its death and the day-to-day troubles it causes Childcare, Employment, and More.
“His outright lies … do not affect voters who have lived through four years of failure.”
Sean McElwee is an author, data analyst and co-founder of the progressive think tank Data for Progress.
Similar to Trump’s presidency, the debate was a total disaster. Trump couldn’t offer a health care plan or condemn white supremacists. Biden led the polls, standing heavily with non-college whites and religious whites who were struggling with Democrats because voters don’t trust Trump to deal with the climate, coronavirus, or racial justice. Nothing that happened Tuesday night is going to change that, and early polls show no evidence that he has gained ground. His outright lies about his bottom line (like the idea that insulin is as cheap as water) just doesn’t affect voters who lived through four years of his failure. Even the Fox News host couldn’t help but treat him like a kid.
“A clear contrast”
L. Joy Williams is a political commentator and president of the Brooklyn NAACP.
What we saw last night was a president focused solely on himself and not the needs of the American people. In every section of the debate, from health care to the economy to climate change, President Trump displayed utter disrespect and calluses, while Vice President Biden’s empathy and authentic connection with the people showed a stark contrast. Trump used a national stage to throw a bone to a violent racist organization that told them to “step back and stand by”, turning a discussion of racial injustice into the need for law and order, a regular dog whistle to appeal to voters, people believe color is inherently criminal. Biden spoke directly to the 200,000 families who lost loved ones to Covid-19, the millions who fear they would lose health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the families of those who served in the military to have.
“Trump acted similarly to Biden in 2012, but didn’t have the same effect.”
Timothy P. Carney is a comment editor at Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Eight years ago, Joe Biden had moderate success in the Vice Presidential Debate with his strategy of interrupting and insulting Paul Ryan. It worked for Biden in part because it was a deliberate strategy and caught Ryan off guard.
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump acted similarly to Biden in 2012, but I don’t think it had the same effect. For one thing, Biden was prepared for Trump’s rudeness. Second, Trump’s interruptions and irrelevant comments were not planned errors; They were the incontinent bursts of an angry old man.
“It wasn’t Biden’s best debating performance so far, but he held his own”
John Neffinger is speaker, lecturer in political communications at Georgetown University and Columbia Business School, former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, and co-author of Convincing people: the hidden characteristics that make us influential.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be the craziest thing the President does for the next six or more weeks. On Tuesday evening he did next to nothing to stand up for the country or to appeal to undecided swing voters. That’s because he’s not interested in participating in the usual democratic competition to win the loyalty of voters. He’s in power and trying to stay in power like autocrats do: by always leading with irregular domination, undermining institutions that could constrain him – we can now add the Presidential Debate Commission to that list – and the chaos that he uses as a pretext for his authoritarian shtick “I alone can save you”. Tuesday night, on national live television, he told a neo-fascist group to “be ready” and added, “Somebody has to do something against Antifa and the left.”
In Anbetracht dessen war das andere Wichtigste, was am Dienstagabend passierte, am Ende, als Onkel Joe uns allen in die Augen sah und sagte, ignoriere all diesen gruseligen Rauch und die Spiegel und gehe einfach zur Abstimmung. Denn wenn wir das tun, können wir das alles hinter uns lassen. Es war nicht Bidens bisher beste Debattenleistung (das ist die Vizepräsidentendebatte von Paul Ryan-Biden im Jahr 2012), aber er behauptete sich, wenn er musste, und der Kontrast könnte nicht klarer sein.
“Es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass diese Debatte viele Meinungen geändert hat.”
Alex Conant ist ein republikanischer Stratege und Partner bei Firehouse Strategies.
Trump hatte einen Haken 22 – er musste Biden von seinem Spiel abbringen, aber durch ständige Unterbrechung schaltete er wahrscheinlich genau die Wähler aus, die er brauchte. Es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass diese Debatte viele Meinungen geändert hat, was für den Spitzenreiter immer ein De-facto-Sieg ist.