Trump to world: There is no deal!
By Larry Fedewa, Ph.D.
(Washington DC, September 30, 2020) Personally, I was disappointed. I can sympathize with President Trump’s impatience with the arrogance of the so-called moderators of presidential debates. He undoubtedly learned his lesson in his first debate when he was booby-trapped by Megan Kelly’s insulting question regarding his attitude toward women.
However, even I was shocked when he interrupted Mr. Biden’s first answer of the night. From then on, the “debate” consisted mostly of two monologues — sometimes three when Chris Wallace tried to regain control of the conversation — often at the same time. I hope someone reminds the principals that when they all talk at once, the audience cannot understand what anyone is saying.
Poor little Chris Wallace. After the first introduction, he looked like a first grade teacher realizing that she had last control of her class. After Chris insisted on disputed factual item, Mr. Trump observed that he was now debating two adversaries. This was early in the encounter, and afterwards, Wallace might as well have been standing beside Biden as far as Trump was concerned.
Mr. Biden maintained his poise for most of the program, only once nearly losing his temper when the topic turned to allegations against his son, Hunter, for corruption. He refused to answer a number of questions, including the important issue of his intention to pack the Supreme Court. There remained a number of issues where the factual basis was in dispute, including the status of Obamacare, its benefits or lack thereof, the validity of mail-in ballots, the effects of the Trump tax cuts, and the credit for the economic revival of 2017-18. The audience received no justification from either side of these and other issues.
The style of the entire exercise was set and controlled by Donald J. Trump. The result was very distasteful television. For this, Mr. Trump will pay the price. While he came across without question as the dominant personality, this impression was achieved by an angry persona, with no trace of the humor and folksiness of his famous rallies. Neither man appeared particularly likeable, but Biden could at least be pictured at your kitchen table, while Trump did not seem likely to be invited into your house.
Nobody really wins a contest of this kind, but Mr. Biden came out ahead on points, in my opinion. Before the next debate, someone had better negotiate with Trump directly regarding the rules of the conversation – or the public will conclude, “A pox on both your houses!” and switch to “Dancing with the Stars” – if they haven’t already.
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