On Oct. 8, the Commission on Presidential Debates issued a statement that the second presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15 must take place online with both candidates participating from “separate remote locations.”
The Trump campaign promptly issued a thanks-but-no-thanks response with typical flair and directness: “For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic.” It concludes, saying that Trump will instead hold a rally that night, reminiscent of the time in April 2019 the president skipped another swamp creature event: the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
This is a second and obvious attempt by the commission to change the format in favor of Biden, after it pitched a fit following the first and highly combative debate on Sept. 29, where “moderator” Chris Wallace made a spectacle of himself and failed to neutralize Trump. Analysis of the president’s performance has run the gamut and, unsurprisingly, most members of the corporate media have been negative.
Here is my own quick take and advice for the president: Let Biden be Biden.
Unable to watch the debate live, I saw initial reactions on social media and thought, “Oh, lawd. Was it really that bad?” So I read the transcript first to ease my way into the melee, and it was classic Trump: aggressive, funny, quick-thinking, probing, “truthfully” hyperbolic, and repetitive. It was far less stressful than the televised version, but it was still smashmouth politics.
That’s not the dominant strain in our cultural DNA but necessary for these times, so it makes sense — and I think also a very good sign — there were mixed reactions by the general public. Trump also missed some glaring opportunities to let Biden hang himself rhetorically and to refute outright lies, for example, when Biden repeated the “fine people” hoax (teed up generously by Wallace) and when both Wallace and Biden maddeningly characterized critical race theory as “racial sensitivity training.”
That Biden completed whole sentences was a vast improvement and no doubt the result of calling a lid (meaning no campaign events) for at least four of the seven days leading up to the debate, not including the numerous lids called previously and noted copiously by others.
But Biden struggled predictably with numbers and facts; played the juvenile opposite game; gave the super creeps with the double entendre, “I’m going to get very lucky tonight as well”; called Trump a clown and racist; and evoked a bizarre visual of “Children of the Corn” meets “Mississippi Burning.”
Close your eyes, remember what those people look like coming out of the fields, carrying torches, their veins bulging, just spewing anti-Semitic bile and accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan. A young woman got killed and they asked the president what he thought. He said, ‘There were very fine people on both sides.’ No president’s ever said anything like that.
Putting aside for the moment Biden’s concerning mental condition, his anemic campaign schedule has been rather baffling particularly given his slogan, “BATTLE for the SOUL of the NATION.” If he really thinks our country’s soul is at stake, then shouldn’t he be showing signs of life, all the time, and everywhere? Trump was more active with COVID in the hospital than Biden was during that same time and then some.
In 2016, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski made famous the directive to his staff to “let Trump be Trump” — let the man just be himself and ultimately that authenticity will win the day. He was right, but the simplicity of the phrase belies the variations within the man. Trump is not paradoxical; he’s wild. He couldn’t have taken a wrecking ball to (every) real estate negotiation and emerge an international success.
This is Trump’s election to lose, as all the momentum is with him. I don’t care too much what the polls say. Hundreds if not thousands of people show up wherever Trump is and even where he isn’t. “Trumptillas” have become a real thing—vast numbers of boats adorned with Trump signs and American flags sailing in Florida, New York, Michigan, and elsewhere to show support for his reelection.
A ginormous TRUMP sign much like the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign recently appeared on a hillside in Southern California before the land owner’s property rights were violated with its removal by authorities. Loyal supporters showed up outside, and the size of the crowd kept growing, while the president was being treated for the coronavirus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Anecdotal, yes, but fitting nonetheless in 2020, especially when most in the media so completely fail to do their job and Democratic voter oversampling in polling is the order of the day.
Trump’s just getting started on key initiatives such as the 1776 Commission and declassifying Russia-hoax documents. We can see new FBI and CIA directors, a renewal of patriotic education, and other desperately needed corrections just beyond the horizon of Nov. 4.
Whether there is another presidential debate before Election Day or not, when Biden is Biden — uninterrupted, unprotected, on and off prompter — it reveals so much. Contradictory, confused, and weak, a Biden presidency would embolden efforts to weaken our country from within, halting in its tracks the America First ethos Trump has been trying to instill.
Play to all your strengths, Mr. President.