Well, not exactly. But at least a more disciplined Trump.
A Trump who didn’t try to talk through others or over a muted mic. A Trump who complimented moderator, Kristin Welker. A Trump who stayed on a message. “Joe, you’ve been in Washington 47 years; you had eight years . . . you did nothing.” A nice deflection from Trump’s own record in office. You might have thought Biden was the incumbent.
But here was a curious thing. All night long, on camera, Biden was taller — at least on the broadcast I watched. This despite the fact that Trump is 6’ 3” and Biden 6’ 1/2,” and therefore significantly shorter than Trump. And yet, there he was “old” Joe, standing tall.
Back in 1992 when a young Bill Clinton was running against George H. W. Bush I ran into a guy who offered a pronouncement that had an oracular ring. “Americans will vote for whoever think is stronger.”
In a contest between a 74 year old and a 77 year old, it’s not like two people who in their prime, or even one the younger and seemingly more vigorous upstart as Clinton was. But, if my 1992 oracle was at least somewhat on target, I’d say “standing tall” Biden came out on top in the second debate. He was vigorous, more so than in the first debate.. He was on point. And at times he had real fire in the belly.
And, he was taller.
An increasingly rotund Donald Trump who tries in vain to button his suit coat, did not defend his own record much, nor talk about what he would do in a second term. He only attacked his opponent. As noted, you might have thought Biden was the incumbent. You wished, or at least I did, that Biden would have said, “You’re the guy who’s been in charge for the last four years!’
But given fears or expectations of a Biden gaffe or senior moment, he stood tall. He did talk about what he hoped to do. And on more than one occasion, when tonight’s excellent moderator, Kristin Welker, asked Biden a question he, in contrast to Trump, actually responded to the question, clearly and directly.
I understand that who you think “won” one of these things has everything to do with who you are supporting. And I am, to be clear, supporting Biden. Trump did better than last time. He didn’t come off as a total boor or bully. But did he help himself? Not much is my guess.
Biden stood taller.