Joe Biden may be deemed the “winner” over Donald Trump in the first presidential debate, and in turn, his polling numbers and odds to win the 2020 US Elections are surging, but the reality is that the American public and democracy, in general, emerged losers on the night.
“That” said CNN anchor Jake Tapper, staring into the camera and looking quite apoplectic about the spectacle he’d just witnessed, “’was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck… the worst debate I have ever seen; in fact, it wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace.’
To be fair, Tapper had it in-one. In a nutshell, it was a charade, a spectacle, an undignified melee, anything but a debate that no hyperbole can aptly describe.
Shouting, interruptions, and ineligible crosstalk dominated the night, with both President Donald Trump and former two-time vice president Joe Biden ignoring agreed upon debate rules to try to score points against each other.
Instead of dealing with the myriad catastrophes and crises facing America today, getting points across that would give voters a sense of what they stood for and what path they envisioned for America under their leadership, the two dedicated themselves to attacking each other and resorting to unprecedented levels of disgraceful behavior, unbefitting of a presidential candidate that is hoping to lead the country in the next four years.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who earned the dubious honour of moderating the 90-minute event, did everything but moderate it.
He lost control from the word go, and was left helpless as it descended into a cringeworthy slugfest between two septuagenarians doing a great impression of a couple of rowdy schoolkids in a schoolyard brouhaha, hurling insults, jabs, and heckling one another.
More often than not, he [Wallace] too was dragged into the shouting match and forced to rebuke his unruly charges – albeit to no success.
President Donald Trump clearly started out with the intention of rattling Joe Biden in the early exchanges, and it didn’t take long before he got under Biden’s skin – 20 minutes to be exact – prompting a frustrated cry from Biden, “Would you shut up, man?”
US President Trump and Joe Biden faced off in a chaotic debate that devolved into an unrelenting volley of personal attacks and interruptions.
— CNN International (@cnni) September 30, 2020
Biden labored to get his points across and struggled to drown out Trump’s incessant natter and a stream of interruptions. On occasion, Biden struggled with statistics, mumbled incoherently, swallowed his words, and seemed unsettled by Trump. At other times, he inappropriately smirked, sneered, mocked, giggled – at Trump or during serious moments, which did little to enhance his statesman credibility.
Importantly, Biden avoided a major gaffe – something that Democrats will laud up as proof that any speculation about the early onset of senility is totally unfounded – he nevertheless disappointed on several scores.
Biden, who has repeatedly promised to restore the “soul of America”, who by his own self-professed admission claims to be the right man for the job of bringing civility back to the White House, who has been at pains to paint himself as “Mr. Nice Guy”, allowed himself to be dragged into incivility.
More than once, Biden insulted the president, calling him “clown,” a “racist” and a “liar.” He was heard telling Trump to “shut up” and “keep yapping, man” at one point. “You’re the worst president America has ever had,” he said at another point.
A low previously not seen from Biden, he did himself a great disservice by resorting to blatant abuse, not least of all it’s hardly representative of the civil behavior that he touts as a required standard for the office.
And yet, in spite of that, the wide majority of viewers (who managed to watch the debacle), analysts, and pundits alike have all declared Biden the so-called “winner” on the night. Prompting both polls and odds to reflect immediately Biden’s improved probability of winning the 2020 US Elections. Betonline favors Biden at -175 to win the November general elections. Trump, by contrast, is the outsider at +145.
Bearing in mind the short benchmark given to Biden by pre-debate analysts: stand up to Trump and avoid any senior moments. Perhaps, at a great stretch, he might be dubbed a winner. In avoiding any glaringly obvious evidence of senility, with which the Trump administration would have had a field day in the leadup to the election, he did claim a personal victory.
On the national and international level though, the public and democracy was left wanting. In the single most disconcerting political event in modern American political history, the inescapable fact is that the public and democracy emerged losers.
Both Dana Bush and Jake Tapper then raised the question whether the other two scheduled presidential debates (in October) would in fact still go ahead. Whether the respected Trump and Biden campaigns might advise against it, after the full extent of the unmitigated disaster of Tuesday’s first presidential debate is felt, which was expected to be the most political event in modern American history, including outside the U.S.