The president came out second best to Biden, losing out on most issues with defensive responses ("it was China's fault"), looks-will-kill glares, frantic accordion hands, and obvious lies.
Biden talked of kids “torn from the arms” of parents; Trump went on about coyotes and cartels, murderers and rapists. Biden promised a “path to citizenship” for millions and preservation of DACA. It went downhill from there, Trump declared himself “the least racist person in the room” and appeared totally incoherent on climate change.
He never could say what he'd do in the next term, so busy was he in finding enemies and boasting. No empathy, as usual. Crazy attacks. The moderator saved him from going on and on, but the frothing personality was there to behold.
"What is on the ballot here is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making that sure that everyone has an even chance. And I’m going to make sure you get that. You have not been getting it the last four years.”
So, Joe Biden = Ronald Reagan. A uniter, not a divider. Which may be why he’s going to win.
Trump's pressing of his distorted view of dystopian America likely did little to capture those few undecided voters exhausted by four years of conflict and chaos.
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.
Winner: Biden who nailed the last question about inaugural speech with a message of president of all America. Trump? I can’t even remember. More narcissistic BS.
While Trump tries to bludgeon you with brute force with his version of the world, Pence oozes over-the-top sincerity wrapped in a constant spew of faux flattery for the all-wise “American people.” While the styles are different, the intents are the same. The ever-obsequious Pence is, in fact, the almost perfect complement – the Mini-Me – to the crude and erratic Trump.
Pence lost the audience, resorting to slow droning responses and adopting a tight-lipped demeanor and pained frown. He was like the juror you wouldn't select for your jury.
Harris was waiting for those faux-courtly gestures and trapped him into appearing rude and a clueless mansplainer. Her smiling glares and retorts were lethal: "I will not stand to be lectured."
While I thought tonight’s back and forth was pretty close, and both sides got some moments to like about their candidate, it was clear nothing happened to change to change substantively the status quo. But a draw translates to a big win for Biden/Harris.
Even if boring, at least it was a debate. Both candidates made the points they needed to make. Neither committed a grievous error. If you went into it liking Biden-Harris, you were wowed by Kamala. If you went into it committed to Trump-Pence, you were happy to wear your MAGA hat.
Most disturbing was the end when Pence dodged the question of what he would do if Trump loses the election and refuses to submit to a peaceful transition of power. Like Trump, his position is that they aren't going to lose. Not very reassuring in view of the double-digit deficit of the Trump-Pence ticket in the latest polls.
Mike Pence was not as obnoxious and disruptive as his boss was in the first presidential debate, but relied on similar tactics
Pence pushed hard with claims about what good things Trump supposedly has done. He lost that point on the trade war when Kamala Harris hit him with job losses and the impact on farmer incomes.
Last night, many people who never watch Fox got a full dose of Trump, and suddenly realized that he's not just the butt of their friend's jokes, he's a uniquely dangerous person who could do untold damage in the next four years.
As a journalist I viewed, sometimes covered from the studio, presidential debates, but in those four decades never encountered such a humiliation of our democracy. I even felt a bit of sorrow for moderator Chris Wallace who was simply overrun by Donald Trump’s disregard for rules
It was a traditional debate only on one side--Joe Biden's--and he won it hands down: with facts, clear arguments, apt criticisms of Trump's mismanagement, a strong voice (not a scintilla of evidence of "cognitive impairment," as Donald Trump has charged), demonstrations of compassion and calls for national unity.
Nobody on the right seems to be claiming that the president “won.” Instead, from most of Fox News’s stable to the Wall Street Journal and conservative commentators on the mainstream networks, they’ve taken refuge in false equivalency, branding the evening "a brawl,” “a shitshow,” “two children fighting,” “a messy debate with multiple attacks.”
It's certain he lost support with women, especially in the suburbs. One of the follow-up commentaries was that it was like driving down the freeway with an 8-year-old having a tantrum in the backseat.
This debate will be remembered as Trump v. Wallace. That takes the focus away from Biden's message and (as usual) makes the evening All About Trump. That's a mistake, since Trump is trying to make it a choice election (Trump or Biden) not about Trump's performance and personality.
In every American boxing movie between 1930 and 1960, there was a little guy in a white shirt and bow tie acting as referee. Chris Wallace was born to play that guy. But that guy knew a foul when he saw one. Chris, the famous conscience of Fox, saw dozens and barely raised his voice. This match was so unrefereed that an RKO crowd would have charged the ring. But there was no crowd. No count. No decision. Chris, say it ain’t so . . .
I imagine Trump's hard-core base enjoyed seeing Trump do his thing, which in this case was to display dominance behavior as best he could over Biden and Wallace. He was in his game, but he didn't knock Biden off his game.
How a decent man like Joe Biden weathered the 90 minutes deserves a medal. I felt for Chris Wallace, knowing that I would not have been able to take control of Donald Trump, either.
Before the debate started, I posted in a Facebook group I participate in, “I would give close to even odds that a fistfight will break out between Trump and Biden. (I hope so!) And better than even odds that the debate will devolve into a race to incoherence.” That is more or less what happened. Disappointing, but not a surprise.
Let’s not do this again. Biden caught on early and laughed at Trump. “Will you shut up, man?” “Would you tell him to shush?”His best line: “It is what it is, and you are what you are.” Otherwise all farce. Trump ridiculous and nasty, Biden steady and sane despite it all.
So Biden looks like he reaches the people and Trump at best is sending messages only to his base.
The pundits are predictably divided, with prominent Democrats expressing shame at the caustic disunity on display to a world worried about the future of America's democracy.
Biden was mostly playing defense. When he said to the President, “Will you shut up!” it was, sadly, the best line of the night.