It’s the second presidential debate! And here are my comments, live-blog style. Scroll down to the bottom for my ultimate thoughts. But first: I apologize for the picture, which actually does not represent what went on at this debate.
The moderator says: mikes will be muted unless it’s your turn to speak.
To Trump: how would you lead the country in the next phase?
Trump: a world-wide pandemic, spikes in Europe right now. Mortality rate down 85%, excess mortality rate way down and lower than any other country. Spikes in Florida, Texas, Arizona now gone. Other spikes will also soon be gone. Vaccine will be announced within weeks. I had coronavirus and got a theraputic/cure and got better and they say I’m now immune. It’s a worldwide problem but I’ve been congratulated on what I’ve been able to do. We’re making ventilators. We’re rounding the corner.
Biden: 220,00 Americans dead. Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America. Compared to Europe, we’re starting from a very high rate. If we just wore masks, we could save 100,000 masks. I would make sure we encourage everyone to wear masks all the time, I would increase testing. I will end this, I will make sure we have a plan.
Mod: is the vaccine within weeks a guarantee?
Trump: by the end of the year.
Mod: What companies?
Mod: You say coming within weeks but your experts say it will take until next year.
Trump: We have the military working on this. 100 million vials.
Mod: Biden, only 40% of Americans will take a vaccine, how will you give them comfidence?
Biden: make sure it’s transparent. We’re about to go into a dark winter, he has no plan available.
Trump: Biden told me I was xenophobic when I closed the country to China; Biden led the swine flu and it was a disaster; only because it was less lethal was it not a total disaster. Every move that Biden says we should do, is what we’ve done.
Biden: Trump shut down China too late.
Blah blah blah.
Trump: Biden locked himself in a basement; Americans can’t do that.
Moderator reclaims: to Biden, you said you would shutdown again; what about the impacts?
Biden: I would shutdown the virus, not the country. Huh? He gives a non-answer, saying we need plexiglass dividersending with his trademark “Come on.”
Trump: New York is dying. We have to open up. We have to protect our seniors, our elderly. We have the best testing in the world by far.
Mod: you called Fauci a “disaster”. Who are you listening to?
Trump: I get along with all of them but Fauci did say, “don’t wear masks.”
Intelligence officials have confirmed Russia and Iranian interference.
Biden, what would you do?
Biden: I made it clear that these countries will pay a price. but he’s unspecific about what “price” and then he brings up the disproven claim of “bounties.”
Trump: your family got $3.5 million from Moscow. Putin and Iran want me to lose. I have implemented sanctions, have gotten NATO countries to put up more money to guard against Russia, I sold weapons to Ukraine. Now Trump goes into the e-mails “the horrible e-mails with the money you were raking in.” “I think you need to talk to the American people.”
Biden: “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source at any time in my life.” I have released all of my tax returns. You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns. China’s paying you a lot. Russia’s paying you a lot. What are you hiding?
Trump: we’re under audit. I did not pay $750, I prepaid tens of millions of dollars. I don’t make money from China, you do. I don’t make money from Ukraine. You do. Your son said, “we have to give 10 percent to the big man – that’s you.”
Mod: when will you release your taxes?
Trump: when the audit is done.
Biden: show us your taxes.
Trump: I was put through a phony witch hunt that started before I was elected with spying on my campaign.
Wow — the moderator is now asking about Ukraine and Burisma, Biden now insists no corruption. “My son has not made money from China.”
Mod to Trump: Since you took office, you didn’t divest from your businesses. How do we know you aren’t engaged in corruption?
Trump: everything is disclosed.
Mod: let’s talk about China. Would you make China pay?
Biden: I would make Biden play by the rules. I would reject China’s requirement that investors partner with a Chinese firm.
To Trump: What will you do?
Trump: Tariffs. They paid $28 billion, they devalued their currency.
Not Biden throws in his general response to the Hunter allegations: we should talk about your families, not my family. Because your families are hurting.
Mod: Now North Korea. Norks ruled out biggest-ever ICBM. Was this a betrayal?
Trump: Barak Obama had predicted a nuclear war, but it didn’t come to pass, so it’s OK.
Mod: Biden, how would you solve this?
Biden: I would make it clear.
American families and the economy — healthcare.
Mod: what would you do if Obamacare is overturned?
Trump: I terminated the individual mandate. And even though Obamacare is bad, I told my people “run it as well as you can.”
Biden: I’m going to pass Obamacare with a public option. If you qualify for Medicaid but your state doesn’t offer it, we’ll have a public option. I doubt this is how this is described on his site.
Mod: what do you say to people who say your plan brings us closer to government-run insurance.
Biden: that’s stupid. I beat all the other candidates who had socialist plans. Then Trump mentions Social Security and Biden uses that as an excuse to mention Social Security and the payroll tax issue.
Mod: Americans are out of work and in poverty. They see Washington fighting over a relief bill. Why hasn’t it been approved?
Trump: Pelosi won’t approve it because she wants to approve because she thinks it helps her politically.
Mod: to Biden, why haven’t you pushed the Democrats to make a deal?
Biden: they passed the HEROES Act. (that is, ignores the fact that the HEROES Act is pork-laden and Pelosi rejects a slimmed-down bill).
Trump: the bill in the House was a bailout of Democrat-run cities and states. Was giving money to illegals. Spending money on things that had nothing to do with covid.
Biden: I don’t see red states and blue states, and every state finds themselves in trouble. Founders were smart, they allowed the federal government to deficit-spend.
Mod: is this the right time to raise the minimum wage?
Biden: Yes, and we should bail out the small businesses, too.
Trump: I would consider it to an extent, but not to a level that would put businesses out of businesses; it should be a state option.
Biden: first responders are being paid less than $15/hour. Anything less than that is poverty level. No, actually, it’s not.
Mod: something something separating children. How will you reunite families?
Trump: rambles on about coyotes, Obama’s children in cages. When pressed, “we are working on it.”
Biden: These separated children came with parents. “It makes us a laughingstock.”
Mod, to Biden: why didn’t you fix immigration before?
Biden: I was only vice president. In my first 100 days I will send to Congress a legalization program for 11 million.
Trump: Biden had catch-and-release.
Biden: claims that the asylum seekers actually showed up for their hearings.
Trump: Catch-and-release is a disaster. We would take their name and release them. Less than 1% of people came back, we had to send ICE and Border Patrol to find them. They don’t come back, they never come back. Only those with the lowest IQ come back.
Biden: that’s not true.
Next section: Race in America. “The talk” — parents who prepare their children what to do if they are unfairly targeted by the police.
Biden: the fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America, but we have been moving the needle toward inclusion, until Trump.
Trump: Biden used the word “superpredator.” “nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump — except for possibly Abraham Lincoln.” Criminal justice reform, opportunity zones, long-term funding for HBCUs.
Biden: I never said “superpredator” but Trump said mean things and pushed for the Central Park 5 to get the death penalty.
Mod, to Trump: why do you say bad things about BLM?
Trump: the first thing I saw of it was “pigs in blanket”; I that was horrible.
Mod: what do you say?
Trump: I don’t know what to say, it makes me sad, I am the least racist person in the room.
Biden: Trump is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in American history. (Maybe it was recent American history.)
At this point — well, I got bored. Apparently even Biden started looking at his watch. So here:
The bottom line.
If I were a truly undecided voter, I don’t know that this debate would help me. But Trump was less Trump-y, for what it’s worth, though he still failed in one of his apparent goals; he attacked Biden repeatedly about the allegations that he was a part of Hunter Biden’s profiteering off family connections with Ukraine, China, etc. Given that the media has been suppressing the story (“the laptop is a Russian forgery, except the touching father-son exchanges!”), Trump really needed to start from scratch on the story: “most people probably don’t know what’s going on because the media is suppressing the story, but Hunter Biden’s business partner today confirmed the authenticity of e-mails saying that my opponent’s son was trading on family connections and forwarding a portion of the proceeds to his father. The claims that Joe Biden is spotless and incorruptible are a lie!” But instead he just lobbed accusations that viewers are likely not to have made any sense of.
Trump also needed to have really pushed the point that Joe Biden’s claim of solving COVID amounts to nothing more than continuing Trump’s existing plans. He also had some points that he kept repeating: “Biden said I was xenophobic!” “Children in cages were Obama’s fault!” etc. And that really boils down to his inability to really master a substantial amount of content.
But the overall tone of the debate was — well, boring, in a good way. The microphones were muted for the two-minute response period, but not afterward, but the moderator did an amazing job keeping them in check, and Trump — well, I wondered whether he had practiced, so as to not lose his cool. He clearly wanted to interrupt, the moderator kept saying, “no,” or giving him a small number of seconds, and he accepted it. There were a number of times when she basically said, “look, I know you think you need to get in the last word rather than let something Biden said, stand, but we need to move on.”
Image: V0050236 A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Pea
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Peachum and Lockit. Coloured lithograph by H.B. (John Doyle), 1837.
1837 By: John DoylePublished: 22 October 1836
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/