The Tuesday night debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden hinged on a spectacle of Trump’s belligerence. Trump interrupted Biden over and over again, leaving moderator Chris Wallace to plead with the president to let Biden speak without his angry interruptions — and Trump harassed Wallace too. The president was, in short, a national (and even international!) humiliation through his petulant refusal to even attempt to hold an actual stable conversation. He’s an angry imbecile who evidently prefers pouting among his sycophants to doing the job he was elected to do. A post-debate poll of debate-watchers conducted by CNN found that 60 percent believed Biden had “won.”
CNN POLL: Who won the debate? pic.twitter.com/qKwF6uT68e
— Lily Adams (@adamslily) September 30, 2020
A meager 28 percent of the debate-watchers who were surveyed by CNN — barely one-in-four! — said that they thought that Trump “won.” The numbers were about the same when CNN asked these debate-watchers who they thought had been more truthful. A full 65 percent named Biden, while just 29 percent said Trump.
CNN POLL >>
Who was more truthful?
65% Joe Biden
29% Donald Trump
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) September 30, 2020
At a debate watch party in Pennsylvania, “even Trump diehards thought the debate was a mess,” Buzzfeed News reported in the immediate aftermath. One Trump supporter at the event, a woman named Betty Rosales, said that she “expected it to be heated but not to the extent that it was,” adding that she was “disappointed as an American voter” (although she indicated that she still supports the president). Another attendee — a woman from Florida named Priti Shukla — said that she “tried to get as much as I could, but it was a little bit of a challenge with the president speaking and then the vice president, and kind of both talking over each other sometimes.”
Trump’s “debate strategy” seemed to hinge on merely lashing out as much as possible and hoping that the blunt force of his blabbering would be enough to drown out Biden’s message. The president’s petulant behavior helps reveal a key fact: he has no systematic vision for bringing the country into some new age of real benefits for everyday Americans. He has repeatedly struggled when asked to outline a vision for a potential second term in office. Instead of a vision along those lines, he has a mish-mash of angry and frequently reality-disconnected rants, and he acts as if his plan for re-election is merely to be louder than the other guy.
There were some definitely uneasy moments in the debate when Trump’s openness to completely subverting democratic norms shined through. Wallace asked Trump if he would “urge [his] supporters to stay calm during this extended period, not to engage in any civil unrest” in the event of delayed election results, and Trump declined to respond with an unequivocal yes. He said that he is “urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen,” which sounds like a call for physical intimidation of voters from the other side of the political spectrum.
At another moment, Trump said that the Proud Boys — a violent white supremacist group — should “stand back” and “stand by,” which sounded like a call for readiness for violence on the group’s part.