Ali vs. Frazier this was not. Like most heavily-hyped fights, movies, albums, and debates, last night’s Presidential debate was an utter letdown. There were no winners. Thankfully and somewhat surprisingly nobody in the media seems to be claiming any sort of victory either. Trump supporters will still vote for him, and everyone that was Ridin’ with Biden will still be on that train. However, last night was an opportunity for both men to win over people in the middle, and there, they failed. If anything, they may have each lost the middle.
Chris Wallace also had no control whatsoever as a moderator. Regardless of political allegiance, I believe we can all agree that the best Chris Wallace going forward in these debates, is no Chis Wallace.
Now on to my debate prediction recap.
Debate Strategy – advantage going in Trump
As expected, Trump came out hot. His strategy was to rattle Biden and at times he did. Trump’s problem? Constant and unnecessary interruptions. I’m not going to enrage readers with any video footage of last night’s debacle but if you watched it you’ll know that whenever Biden started slipping into unconsciousness Trump let him off the hook with full sentence-long disruptions that actually seemed to snap Biden back on track.
Biden fans were lowkey hoping for him to not be wheeled out on a gurney and he delivered.
Chris Wallace WAS wheeled out on a gurney — at least in the court of public opinion.
COVID-19 – advantage going in Biden
As expected, Trump said he did a great job and that many blue-state Dems appreciated and applauded his efforts. He did blame China but didn’t say “Chinese Virus”… instead he called it the “Chinese Plague”. Trump said that he closed the border early on — so early that Biden called him xenophobic for doing so.
Biden didn’t offer much here other than, as predicted, saying he would have done a better job. One point of confusion to me was that Biden said Trump didn’t do enough to shut everything down on time, while also later accusing Trump of forcing a shutdown of the economy.
BLM/Police Reform/Race – advantage going in Biden
If last night’s debate was a train wreck leading up to this moment it really became a steaming dumpster fire of shit from here on. Much of the media is focusing on Trump not denouncing white supremacy and specifically pointing to his comment about the Proud Boys as evidence.
I think people need to take another look at the following exchange:
Trump literally did what was asked of him, although probably not as forcefully or articulately as some would have liked. You can argue that, but you can’t argue that he didn’t say it at all.
We’ve seen this before though — where the media zeroes in on a seemingly incriminating clip, only to conveniently ignoring the actual condemnation:
Now, if side-stepping is the actual issue here, let’s not forget that Biden was also given the chance to denounce Antifa. Instead of doing that, he decided to argue that they aren’t even a real group:
This was a huge swing and a miss for Biden in my opinion. 90% of the general public would have had no issue with Biden condemning Antifa and he blew it. I thought Trump came out ahead pretty much by default here.
Economy – advantage going in Trump
Biden congratulated himself for a job well done during the Obama years, as expected. Trump congratulated himself for record low unemployment and record-high salaries and the stock market. Look, jobs are huge and this is the one area that some people on both sides actually approve of regarding Trump. I didn’t give Biden much of a chance here and although he tried his best the numbers really do favor Trump.
For what it’s worth I’d call the overall debate a technical draw that could have used a lot fewer interruptions from Trump and fewer insults from both men. I expect the next debate to be only slightly more civil but also predict that like last night’s debate the Trumpers will remain Trumpers and the Never-Trumpers shall remain Never-Trumpers. I think Biden probably picked up some popular votes last night but not enough to move the needle at the electoral level.