Aftermath: The debate

I confess that I watched only 45 minutes of last night’s Presidential debate. At that point I couldn’t take the fracas any longer: Trump interrupting both the moderator, Chris Wallace, and Joe Biden; the simultaneous talking so that nothing could be made out;  the failure of both candidates to answer questions (typical in these debates); and, of course, Trump’s Mussolini-like posturing.  As I expected, there was no light and a lot of heat, but the heat wasn’t even entertaining. It was a slugfest, and a very ugly one. I missed some bits in the second half that are reported in today’s news, including Trump’s reported refusal to condemn white supremacists.

Although I think Biden came off better, he seemed a bit timorous and shaken and sometimes went off topic. And at times even he couldn’t contain himself, calling Trump a “clown” and telling him to “shut up”. Biden refused to answer some questions, such as what he’d like to do with the Supreme Court.

Chris Wallace lost control of the proceedings from the outset, and I wonder if he did the best he could given the rules of the debate. Trump was like a bellowing, charging elephant that couldn’t be stopped.

At any rate, after watching this, and knowing that so many Americans will not only vote for Trump but positively adore him, I think we can clearly divide the country into two groups. There are those who will vote for Trump, and now I see nearly all of them as deplorables. I didn’t like Hillary Clinton using that word four years ago, but that was before we’d seen Trump’s performance as President. If you want him for another four years, then I think you’re either delusional or in love with tyrants (or both), and lack all political judgment.

The other group is, of course, those who will vote for Biden.  Biden is clearly not the best the Democratic Party can offer, and he does seem a bit dotty. However, he won’t surround himself with sycophants and liars, and he may have a Democratic House and Senate to work with. If you’re a rational human being who doesn’t want this country destroyed, you have no choice but to vote for Biden.

There. . . . I feel better now. (I didn’t sleep much last night.)

As for the news, both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported the debate with headlines castigating Trump, which, I think, is injecting opinion into journalism. I still object to headlines like these, even though the content of the articles are accurate:

An excerpt from the NYT:

The first presidential debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. unraveled into an ugly melee Tuesday, as Mr. Trump hectored and interrupted Mr. Biden nearly every time he spoke and the former vice president denounced the president as a “clown” and told him to “shut up.”

In a chaotic, 90-minute back-and-forth, the two major party nominees expressed a level of acrid contempt for each other unheard-of in modern American politics

Mr. Trump, trailing in the polls and urgently hoping to revive his campaign, was plainly attempting to be the aggressor. But he interjected so insistently that Mr. Biden could scarcely answer the questions posed to him, forcing the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, to repeatedly urge the president to let his opponent speak.

“Will you shut up, man?” Mr. Biden demanded of Mr. Trump at one point in obvious exasperation. “This is so unpresidential.”

Yet Mr. Biden also lobbed a series of bitingly personal attacks of his own.

“You’re the worst president America has ever had,” he said to Mr. Trump.

“In 47 months I’ve done more than you have in 47 years,” Mr. Trump shot back, referring to his rival’s career in Washington.

. . . Mr. Biden’s delivery was not always forceful. He did occasionally lose his cool and succumb to Mr. Trump’s barrage of taunts. But he mostly emerged unscathed, and for most Democrats, anything but a loss was welcomed as a clear win.

The Times also has an article called “Six takeaways from the First Presidential debate,” which are these:

  1. Trump trampled over everything
  2. Biden, at his strongest, pivoted to the camera, and away from Trump
  3. Trump still wants to wear the outsider mantle.
  4. Trump would not condemn white supremacy or urge his supporters to remain calm.
  5. Trump did little to address the gender gap.
  6. Biden rebuffed the leftist label.

You can also watch videos of “Four key moments from Trump” and “Four key moments from Biden.” These pretty much sum everything up.

The Washington Post, too, has a headline smacking a bit of opinion (click on screenshot), though most will say, “no, it’s just accurate reporting.” I can see that, but the “Trump” appearing repeatedly in all the headlines seems to me a bit of editorializing. But that’s a quibble compared with the Big Narcissist’s execrable behavior.

An excerpt from the Post‘s main article:

The presidential campaign devolved into chaos and acrimony here Tuesday night as President Trump incessantly interrupted and insulted Democratic nominee Joe Biden while the two sparred over the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court and race relations in their first debate.

The most anticipated event on the fall campaign calendar was an uncontrollable spectacle of badgering and browbeating, of raised voices and hot tempers. Trump’s interjections and jeers, some of them false and made in an apparent effort to fluster Biden, landed with such ferocity that moderator Chris Wallace pleaded multiple times with the president to follow the agreed-upon debate rules.

Biden, exasperated, asked Trump during the opening segment on the Supreme Court, “Will you shut up, man?”

The squabbling overwhelmed a debate that displayed substantive differences between both men on the converging crises convulsing the nation at a profound moment — from the pandemic and the related economic recession to the reckoning over racial injustice and the dangers of climate change as evidenced by the wildfires devastating the West.

Both men spoke in sweeping and at times apocalyptic terms about the other. Biden posited that under Trump, the United States had become “weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent,” while Trump argued that if Biden were elected, the country would experience “a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen.”

The attacks were extraordinarily personal, in keeping with the caustic nature of this campaign. Biden called Trump “a racist” and “the worst president America has ever had,” while Trump mocked Biden’s intelligence and pivoted off Biden’s impassioned defense of his late son, Beau, to attack the integrity of his surviving son, Hunter.

I emphasize again that I didn’t watch the last half of debate, but from what I’ve read and the videos I’ve seen, things didn’t improve.  I’m hoping that Trump’s Big Baby performance will cost him votes, but I’m not sure, for, after all, there are all those deplorables.  Let’s take a vote:


  1. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    “If you want him for another four years, then I think you’re either delusional or in love with tyrants (or both), and lack all political judgment.”
    While I would like this to be true, I think it is unfortunately more complicated. I know several religious families that are friendly and helpful to others that are tRump supporters. At least in their cases, abortion is the deciding factor. As has been said “religion poisons everything”.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      I don’t see that it’s much more complicated. Belief in the dictates of faith is a delusion, and trump is a tyrant.

      • DrBrydon
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        I am going to politely disagree on the tyrant piece. Trump is at worst as asperational tyrant in my opinion. Our system is well-designed to check his excesses. My concern is that if the Dems take the Presidency and the Senate (already having the House), and pack the court, then we have a problem. Our system is not designed to deal with a tyrant with whom everyone agrees, and I am afraid it would be wokeism run wild. Trump at this point is the devil we know.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

          I think your crystal ball is decidedly cracked.

        • darrelle
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          Our system is well-designed to check his excesses.

          No it isn’t. That is precisely what our system has failed to do. The RP has been blowing through our system’s checks, purposefully, for decades. Trump has been blowing through them at a much faster rate.

          It does seem delusional to me to fear-monger about a possible, in the sense that pretty much anything one can imagine is possible, future in which the US turns into a dystopian Woke Tyranny if the DP gets voted in while poo-pooing the disaster that the RP and the Trump administration actually is right now.

        • revelator60
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          Almost none of the Democrats in power are actually “woke.” Furthermore, a right wing Supreme Court would allow right wingers to run wild instead and rubber-stamp every decision made by Trump and McDonnell. That sounds far more awful than a Supreme Court compliant to a moderate democrat like Biden.

        • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          Sorry but that attitude is insane, not least because Trump is a wrecker who is doing his best to destroy all environmental controls. I would hope that a Democratic government would sign up to the responsibility Americans have to do something about their wasteful & carbon-rich lifestyles that are leading causes of climate change. Take responsibility as a nation for the sake of the world!!!!!

        • Posted October 1, 2020 at 3:06 am | Permalink

          Our system is well-designed to check his excesses.

          I’m not entirely sure which part of the World you are from but your system is not relevant anyway, the US system is and it is clearly, unambiguously not fit for purpose. We know this because it has failed to check his excesses.

          The Clown* in Chief has lied constantly throughout his term. He’s extorted favours from sovereign states. He’s antagonised the USA’s allies. He’s obstructed justice routinely. His embezzled money from the tax payers. He’s packed the supreme court with right wing sycophants. He’s insulted his opponents. He’s forcibly removed peaceful protestors so he could have a photo op. He’s campaigned from the Whitehouse. He’s ignored a pandemic and contributed to the deaths of 200,000 Americans.

          If that’s checking his excesses, you’re absolutely screwed once he’s stolen the next election. Your president is literally admitting he’s going to ignore the election if he loses and you think his excesses are checked. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.

          *If Trump doesn’t want to be called a clown, he should stop wearing the orange face paint and get rid of the comedy haircut ($77,000 from the tax payers).

      • Charles A Sawicki
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        True, but you also said: “There are those who will vote for Trump, and now I see nearly all of them as deplorables.” Voting for tRump is deplorable, but there a lot of these people that aren’t deplorables in ND. Calling them deplorables suggests that they are despicable with bad characters. As I said before, things are not even close to being this simple.

        • Max Blancke
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          I found that part of the post troubling as well.
          We once again have to choose between two deeply flawed candidates. Nobody gets to vote for Jefferson or Lincoln.
          So most people I know are making their choice based on which candidate will do the least damage to a few key issues which they care about.
          Having different priorities or views on those issues does not make anyone deplorable.

          • GBJames
            Posted October 1, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

            “Having different priorities or views on those issues does not make anyone deplorable.”

            That depends entirely on what those views are.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I voted no opinion as I am not sure how to even have an opinion on such an event or to even describe what it was. I watched very little but could not avoid it on news later and this morning.

    It would be hard to define as an argument unless you consider an angry quarrel definition but a debate? Hardly. Unless they can confine Trump to one of those cages he uses down on the border or shut the sound off to allow the other to speak, it is just a waste. The American condition is in such sorry shape I see little value left anywhere.

  3. Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Actually, I think those who adore Trump do not view him as a tyrant(and largely don’t know what that is since they called Obama that). I think they view him as giving them a freedom they haven’t had in a very long time: freedom to say and act exactly as obnoxiously, irreverently, and deplorable as they like.

    There will be those who vote for Trump that I don’t think fall in that category, though. They will hold their nose to vote for Trump because that’s the party they feel represents their values even if their leader/king/president isn’t particularly who they like. They aren’t voting for a person, they’re voting for a platform. I can respect that position, even if I don’t agree with it. I’m not excited about voting for Biden, but I’m going to for the very same reason.

    I think for the next debate they should put each candidate in a sound proof booth that lets the sound in and not out. That way they can respond, but they can’t interrupt. That was a fiasco, to say the least. I tried to watch but couldn’t take it anymore after about 30 minutes.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I see no reason to “respect” Trump’s platform (he doesn’t have one this year), so all we know is what he stands for, which is racism, demonization of immigrants, packing the Supreme Court with conservatives, and lies, lies, lies about the pandemic. His behavior with respect to the pandemic has been unhinged, erratic, and irresponsible.

      No, I can’t respect the “values” of the Republican party.

      • Historian
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Those who will vote for Trump because of his so-called “platform” are the business interests and those who benefit from Trump’s “accomplishments” – lower taxation and deregulation. The bulk of his support comes from his cult that cares little about his actual policies, although it should since many of them hurt its members. Cult members support him because he validates their feelings – a sense of loss of status in society that they blame on immigrants, racial minorities, LGBTQ folk, atheists and the non-religious, and liberals in general. These people were easy marks for the consummate con man and grifter. Trump is not very different from the TV evangelicals. This is why there have been very few defectors from the Trump cult.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Well, that’s not exactly what I said. I don’t respect their values even a little. I can just respect the fact that people will vote for him only because they agree with the Republican Party’s conservatism. I don’t agree with their platform, but can understand that some people do and will hold their nose to vote for Trump.

        I don’t respect him or his platform one.little.bit. Most people that I know who are voting for him(not me) are voting based on two things: abortion and economy, as if those are the only two things that matter at all.

        • darrelle
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          I think these sorts of voters fall squarely in the “delusional” category. If they continue to believe that the RP represents conservative values then they are out of touch with reality.

          • Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            So, I live in Trump Country – South Georgia to be exact. I’ve got a number of friends who are Trump supporters. What I’ve seen from them today is basically, “We don’t care if he’s a terrible person. At least he’s not one of those godless democrats, killin’ and eatin’ babies!”

            Are they deplorable? I know these people, and apart from their delusion about the godliness of their deity (who knows anymore if that’s god god or Donald Trump), they are good, decent people.

            Don’t get me wrong, some of them are probably deplorable, but it’s a mixed bag.

            • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

              Good decent people that just happen to think Democrats eat babies? That’s deplorable in my book.

            • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

              How can you be friends with idiots who actually believe that crap? Eating babies? They should be in a lunatic asylum!!!

              • GBJames
                Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

                I eat babies all the time. Mostly just spinach and carrots, though. I only eat human babies on satanic feast days.

              • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

                I think that they’ve bought into a stereotype. Some of them do believe that so-called Elite Democrats literally do that. I’m not particularly close with those people, though. I just can’t converse with anyone who believes in that Qanon nonsense. I tried to reason with them. There is no reasoning. I quite agree that it’s a mental illness.

                I do think we’ve all bought into stereotypes about people who belong to the other party, though. We all presume that anyone who votes Republican is deplorable and they all assume we are godless heathens. It really does no one any good. It’s like we’ve all folded our arms and decided that if you’re not on my team I don’t like you. It’s like a childish clique to belong to.

                That’s not to say that I haven’t distanced myself from some people that I just fundamentally disagree with, including some in my family.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                But I am a godless heathen.

              • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

                As am I. I’m just not the amoral deviant they assume a godless heathen would be.

              • Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

                Poor Ruth❗️I do agree that in line with the Aesop’s fable of the wind & the sun, we are more likely to change people with sunshine…

            • darrelle
              Posted October 1, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

              I too know some people like that. I have trouble understanding them. They would never behave anything remotely like Trump themselves and wouldn’t tolerate such behavior in the people they actually interact with in their lives. And they are fine with me, a liberal. But they still support Trump. WTF?

        • GBJames
          Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          I live next door to a tRumpiteer. We do our best to get along and be friendly but I have to admit it is difficult for me. He flies one of those “thin blue line” flags that Proud Boys are so fond of. We never discuss politics.

          • Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            I have found that to be the best policy for myself. I’ve never been much for small talk.

            My sister and her husband are former law enforcement officers/employees who will not even entertain that there might be a problem. I just won’t get into it with them as hard as they try because I know it will all just end in hurt feelings. It’s difficult when you love and care for someone that you just fundamentally disagree with. It’s a lot easier when it’s the neighbor. Once you’re done talking about how hot it is you can go on your merry way.

    • Historian
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, partisanship is very strong and few people (regardless of political stripe) will abandon their party even if the leader does something undemocratic. So reports Graeme Wood in an article at the Atlantic site. He summarizes a research study of political scientists. Wood writes: “About 3.5 percent of voters will defect from a candidate whom they otherwise support, but who does something destructive of democratic norms. Those 3.5 percent come from the right and the left in equal proportions, but they tend to be moderates. (Self-described ‘independents’—those mysterious, yeti-like creatures who profess to have no political preference at all—vote slightly more like extremists.) If you value democracy, hug a moderate.” This “means that nearly everyone you know who says democracy is sacrosanct is basically lying—which probably includes you and me. In the privacy of the voting booth, we reveal our hypocrisy.”

      This research supports what I’ve long suspected: democracy lasts only when people perceive that it is working for them. If it doesn’t, people have little regret in jettisoning it in exchange for a dictator that plays to their needs. Trump understands this instinctively. Those on the far left probably wouldn’t object to a leader that would curtail free speech. This is human nature. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that democracy has survived this long.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        I’m sure that I’m somewhat hypocritical but feel that I’m one of the more moderate hypocrites. I have friends on both ends of the spectrum. I think they’re all crazy and would jettison the Constitution and any notion of democracy in a heartbeat to get what they want. When we start talking about infringing on constitutional rights I squirm.

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        “…democracy lasts only when people perceive that it is working for them.”

        I think I would say exactly the opposite. People believe in democracy when they’re on the losing side of the argument. They are saying that even though they’re not in the majority, they still have a right to participate and have a voice in the discussion.

        When they’re on the winning side of the argument, they become autocratic, and want to cut everyone else out of the loop.

        This is something that I appreciate about Biden. After he won the primary, he invited Bernie Sanders and his people into the process of developing policy and platform. Do you think the Sanders people would have done the same if Bernie had won? I very much doubt it.

        Bipartisanship? Good luck with that. Although, inclusion is more likely to happen with Biden.


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      They aren’t voting for a person, they’re voting for a platform.

      Ironic, since for the first time in the modern history of the two-party system, the GOP did not enact a party platform at its quadrennial convention this year, only a pledge of undying fealty to its Dear Leader — the Republican version of whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.

    • eric
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      They aren’t voting for a person, they’re voting for a platform. I can respect that position

      I hold very little respect for such people unless they come out frankly and oppose the specific policies they disagree with. Let’s see some nose-holders vocally, publicly repudiate putting immigrant children in cages and write letters to their republican representatives supporting DREAMers. Let’s see them repudiate the Proud Boys and all they stand for. Then maybe I’ll respect that person’s choice to vote for Trump becausue they want higher tariffs on foreign goods or whatever.

      At the risk of Godwinning, as the saying goes, the Nazis were very good at making the trains run on time. If someone values having the trains run on time over the lives of children, then something is very wrong with that person.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        The Nazis were something Trump is not – socialists. If Trump & his ilk continue you will not have anything that might be good for people in general, only people in specific. So the trains will not run, nor the buses. Libertarianism writ large is anti-state. “There is no such thing as society” as Thatcher said. Most of you in the misleadingly called United States seem to prefer a hands off government. How is that working out for you? Surrendering leadership in world affairs & economics to powerful statists in China?
        Not having a go at you Eric! 😞

        • Filippo
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          “Surrendering leadership in world affairs & economics to powerful statists in China?”

          Is it reasonable to say that, to at least some modest degree, the U.S. has brought upon itself its China “problem” (the ascendancy of China) by U.S. (and other countries’) companies offshoring their manufacturing to China? (I wonder what if any sympathy or consideration or regard U.S. companies have for the U.S.’s apparent foreign policy plight? What do Friedmanesque U.S. capitalists care about patriotism, loyalty, solidarity to and with the big U.S. tribe?) Whatever sanctions it has imposed on, and whatever noises it has made about, China, so far, ASFAIK, the U.S. has yet to direct these U.S. companies to no longer offshore their manufacturing to China.

      • XCellKen
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        I thought that the train running on time comment was about Mussolini ?

  4. Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Even at their best, I strongly dislike the “debate” format in nearly all areas in which it’s used. These presidential “debates” are really just pro-wrestling without scripts or choreography and with less coherence.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      These presidential “debates” are really just pro-wrestling without scripts or choreography and with less coherence.

      One would think that would give Trump yooge advantage since not only has he participated in WrestleMania himself, but the first rule of the long con Trump’s been running in his entire adult life is the same as the first rule of pro “wrestling”: Never break kayfabe.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t know there was an exact word for it, but kayfabe is exactly who tRump is. He knows at some level it’s a fake identity, but he’s been doing it so long he’s likely become the stage persona he has been playing. Shakespeare said, all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. tRump plays his part very well indeed.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Or as Mr. Vonnegut said in the opening line of Mother Night — the only of his novels with a moral to the story, or so he said — “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

      • XCellKen
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Hate to break it to you, but pro wrestlers now routinely break Kayfabe. And until twenty years ago, pro wrestling used neither scripts nor choreography. Coincidentally, that is when the popularity of Pro Wrestling took a nosedive. And according to the television ratings, it has never recovered.

        And the joke was on the wrestlers. While they were maintaining Kayfabe, the vast majority of fans realized it wasn’t a true sports. But it was much more enjoyable when presented as such.

        And ironically, the last time Pro Wrestling was discussed here, I found a link to a study which revealed that given the political beliefs of its fans, pro wrestling is one of the most “Democratic” sports ( Pro wrestling was considered a sport in the study). The only sports more “Democratic” than pro wrestling was the NBA, and the WNBA. And anyone that has ever attended a pro wrestling match would realize how popular it is with both Blacks and Hispanics. The most “Republican” sports were Golf, College Football, and NASCAR

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I read that the next debate format is “town hall”, in which audience members get to ask the questions.

      I wonder how that will go.


      • Filippo
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        “I wonder how that will go.”

        However many or few are in the audience, I’d say not a few will not be able to resist the temptation to ululate and caterwaul and applaud and otherwise interrupt the debaters in mid-sentence, making it difficult to hear candidates’ statements.

  5. BobTerrace
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I read this morning that Biden campaign rose $3.8 million in the one hour between 10 and 11 PM EDT during the debate, a record.

    • Posted October 1, 2020 at 3:13 am | Permalink

      If the result was determined by how much money you can raise, it’s a slam dunk. Unfortunately, it’s not.

      NB I was half way through the last sentence before I realised how much was wrong with it. I chose to finish it anyway because it’s interesting that the fact that one candidate can afford to buy the election more easily than the other is considered a Good Thing

      • Posted October 1, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

        …it’s interesting that the fact that one candidate can afford to buy the election more easily than the other is considered a Good Thing

        Just one of the many major flaws in the US electoral system.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        It is one measure of support, particularly when the donation average size is small. This has been the case with much of recent Democrat fund-raising. It is a gauge, imperfect of course, of participation by the electorate.

  6. Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I suggest that the Biden campaign demand that the future debates be carried out at separate locations, so that the moderators can mute the microphone of the person not speaking. This must work both ways, but you know who makes this a necessity.
    I am sure the Trump campaign will refuse this, but rather than a two-way vote, have the debate organizers be a tie-breaking vote on this matter.

    • eric
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I like the idea of muting the mics when it’s not the person’s turn to speak. An interesting tidbit I pulled from I think CNN; while Trump did the vast majority of the interrupting, Biden actually spoke for more minutes. Probably because talking policy takes more words than throwing insults.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Wallace did give Biden some extra time at least once to balance Trump’s yammering during his turn.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Problem is, the debate rules and format are the product of intricate negotiations between the parties and can be changed by the US Commission on Presidential Debates only with the consent of both parties.

        Trump would as lief agree to have his mic shut off for so much as a second as to appear on stage sporting a crewcut.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

          Isn’t a crew cut standard in most prisons? It will be fun to find out what he looks like when he has no access to $70,000 worth of hair dressing.

          • merilee
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

            Trevor Noah suggested using a squirt bottle (like for cats) when T interrupts. He would HATE to have his gorgeous coiffure ruined😬

            • rickflick
              Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

              Biden could bring one to the debate with 1% Clorox in it. Tell him it’s for his own good.

              • merilee
                Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                Excellent idea!

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            Isn’t a crew cut standard in most prisons?

            Nah, not these days. But when I was a kid, it was the first thing they’d give you at the Juvenile Detention Hall (or “DH” as it was known in my neighborhood).

            In my high school, you could always tell who got pinched over the weekend by who showed up with a crewcut on Monday mornings.

            It happened to my bestie once, when he got drunk on the way home from a freshman football game. He was the president of our class at the time. Now, that was a bit embarrassing. 🙂

            • XCellKen
              Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

              I graduated in 1979 with the longest hair of any male in my high school. Not that I was always on my best behavior, I was just smart enough not to ever get caught

          • rickflick
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

            It’s often kids in the tough crowd who end up in the law and order game later on. 😉

    • Posted October 1, 2020 at 3:19 am | Permalink

      The debate commission has decided to change the rules

      One side is already objecting. Can you guess which without clicking the link?

  7. Simon Hayward
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The only seed of comfort from this “shitshow in a dumpster fire in a train wreck” was that Bidne came in as a clear leader needing not to lose voters. Trump came in needing to pick up voters. I think Biden succeeded, Trump seems to have failed and may well have pushed some more people away.

    But Jeez!

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Biden missed a chance, when the Dolt rattled him on his narrow(?) primary victory, to shoot back, “Says the man who lost the popular vote by 3M”. If subsequent debates happen, he’ll surely have another chance.

  9. Dragon
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Trump lost any ground with those who had made up their mind to vote for him. But I think he lost votes in the 6% who went into the debate undecided. I voted ‘Lose’, but it won’t even be a loss of all those 6%. I speculate, or hope, the undecided broke 3-4% to Biden and the rest (2-3%) stayed undecided. Trump’s abysmal performance didn’t win over anyone who wasn’t already in his camp.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Trump’s performance no doubt played well with the deplorable white-nationalists in Trump’s base (the “Proud Boys” are certainly stoked by Trump’s call for them to “stand by,” accordingly their post-debate pronouncements), but it can’t have done anything to bring back the college-educated Republicans Trump’s been shedding for the last four years or to comfort the “Suburban Housewives” he’s constantly trying to frighten into his camp.

      • Dragon
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink


  10. KD33
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Clinton said “about half” of Trump supporters were “a basket of deplorables.” That seemed about right at the time, but she was off by about a factor of two.

  11. C.
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I admit I did not watch and I have avoided clips of it on the news. I am quite capable of getting indigestion and headaches on my own. I’ve had my mind made since November 2016 who I would, or more to the point, would NOT vote for and nothing I’ve seen, heard, read, or suffered through has altered that one bit. I am glad I didn’t wake up to the news saying that Biden punched out tRump after the Orange Menace tried to act tough, which I half expected.

  12. Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I’ve only heard this through NPR, which did include a lot of direct tape.

    What a sordid spectacle! tRump has proven himself to be devoid of ideas once again.
    A 5-year-old in kindergarten wouldn’t have been allowed to behave like tRump behaved last night. What a joke he is.

    All he has is: Lies, bullsh!t, the intellectual and emotional maturity of a 10-year-old, and school-yard bully antics.
    His only tactic, his only hope, in debate is to simply disrupt it, to prevent debate.

    And his tactic has a chance of working: It will disgust potential voters and potentially suppress the vote.
    Since Donnie doesn’t have the votes to win, voter suppression work in his favor.

    Do NOT allow yourself to be manipulated by Donnie. Do NOT allow him to rob you of your say, your vote.

    IF there are further debates, then the candidates need to be further separated and the moderator needs to have
    control over the mics to prevent either candidate from shouting over the other one.

    The only positive thing about this fiasco was the plexiglass wall that kept Lil’ Donnie for physically stalking Biden.

    It was hilarious to hear tRump claim, “you wouldna done nuthin for COVID! Nyah, nyah, nayh! We’re doing great, fantastic job! The best in history!” What a load of sh!t. Anyone who believes this crap is demonstrating the 5th Avenue Effect.

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      In today’s society a 10year old MIGHT be heard but when this person was 10 that’s doubtful. Therefore the attention causing devices. I also suspect the lies have the same era.
      I wonder if Chris Wallace’s father would have been more effective holding the course.
      I’m not much of a political person. I’ve voted for Anderson and was in a terrible dilemma when it came to Goldwater vs Humphrey. But I am one of those middle roaders.
      My mother told me it wasn’t who you voted for in the Whitehouse that was important but who was in the Senate and house and how they related to the Whitehouse resident.
      Well, my house and senate seats are in order (my preference ) so…..

      • GBJames
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Goldwater didn’t run against Humphrey. It was Nixon vs. Humphrey. Goldwater ran against Johnson.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        “I’ve voted for Anderson . . . .”

        I did too. While visiting my grandfather, he presumed to ask me whom I voted for.

        (He was the type who would say most anything to someone, like ask a woman how much she weighed, and would take offense at my grandmother calling on him for tracking mud or worse into the house.)

        I told him. He replied, “You need to vote for the man who can win.” I took it on the chin in silence, so as to keep the peace, being under his roof and he being my elder. But I was seething. I resisted the temptation to ask him for whom he voted, so that I might similarly pass judgement on his choice, and to tell him I’d vote for whomever I wanted to, he could like it or not.

  13. Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    “If you want him for another four years, then I think you’re either delusional or in love with tyrants (or both), and lack all political judgment.”

    Only 35% of Americans age 25 and over have a college degree.

    When Pew or some other organization does some poll or test of basic knowledge in one area or another (such as politics, or global warming), the results are typically pathetic.

    We also seem to be reading a lot less, and our news media seems to be losing whatever level of objectivity it once had. So if you do consume a lot of news media, you are vulnerable to indoctrination in a particular ideology.

    Oh, and most of us Americans now are quite overweight and sedentary compared to previous generations. We also have high rates of depression and suicide, and use a lot of prescription medications just to get us through the day.

    So there are many millions of undereducated, unlettered, incurious, indoctrinated, anxious, overmedicated, unhealthy folks inhabiting this country. One might call such people “the average American citizen”.

    So don’t be surprised when less than brilliant ideas about reality are produced from the brains of such people.

    I’m not being elitist or mean. Most of this is not the fault of these individual citizens…it is the fault of irresponsible forms of capitalism (as opposed to more humane forms), an outdated public education system, and rapidly deteriorating political institutions.

    So when you zoom out and take a look at the typical American, yeah it makes sense to me that someone like Donald Trump is the current President and may actually win again.

    People who visit a site like this…we are in a bubble.

    • Historian
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      The conclusion I draw from your remarks is that Trump did not pop up from nowhere. He is the consummation of long-term trends that the country has failed to address. Even if Trump is defeated, the resentments of these people will not disappear. They will support the next con man that comes along. In the meantime, the nation’s fractures will remain. Biden will try to heal them, but the Republicans will try to thwart him at every turn. In my usual pessimistic vein, I see little likelihood of national healing, no matter how sincere Biden will be in calling for it.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        “Even if Trump is defeated, the resentments of these people will not disappear.”

        True but I believe that many of their resentments are not based in fact and are the result of being lied to constantly. For example, the Republicans have been so good at labeling themselves as the best on the economy, law and order, the military, and patriotism, none of which is true. The Democrats have ignored this for decades. I don’t think they’ll ignore it any longer but I also doubt they’ll be effective in countering it.

        “They will support the next con man that comes along.”

        I like to think that Trump is unique. Sure, we can imagine another Trump but if you think of all the GOP politicians, none of them could be that person. Plus, perhaps those that voted for Trump will have learned something. If Trump loses, I suspect that many will abandon him. His image is not going to improve as pundits, historians, and regular citizens examine his presidency. Hopefully, many will not so quickly line up behind another Trump.

        • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          The GOP loves its dolts. Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Donald Trump. Trump may be in a class of his own, but nobody was claiming that Reagan and Bush were intellectuals.

          The GOP has been pandering to the LCD for 50 years now and I just don’t see this reversing any time soon. It’s religion, hero worship, guns, entertainment, and all of the other things that appeal to such people.

          • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

            Although I agree with you, NPR just played some debate tape from 1980 (Carter v. Reagan); and, I have to say, though I found Reagan doltish in 1980 and 1984, he seems like a august, intelligent statesman compared to the drivelings from tRump’s mouth!

            • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

              Agreed! And if you look at Reagan’s policies, many of them seem rather sensible (compared to Trump).

              It just shows how far down the rabbit hole the GOP has gone.

              • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

                Yes but Reagan was the one that showed them where the rabbit hole was. AFAIK, he’s the one that first made distrust of government a feature of his campaign.

              • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

                Recall Bush to Obama at Trump’s inauguration? He said “That’s some weird shit!”

            • darrelle
              Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink


          • XCellKen
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Wasn’t Adlai Stevenson ridiculed in the 50s for being an “egghead” ?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          Trump is unique as a personality and front man. But the his know-nothing yahoo populist base won’t disappear.

          That monster was conceived in the womb of Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” and midwifed into existence by Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh.

          There are plenty of wannabe leaders — Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, Ron DeSantis, and Matt Gaetz among them — who will be looking to line-up to lead them out of the desert after Trump’s defeat.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Yes, exactly. He’s like a serious, chronic health problem that you develop after years of neglect and misuse. There is no quick fix.

        I’m increasingly worried that social media is accelerating these negative trends. The brightest members of our species, those with the ability to develop such technologies and make fortunes from them, are making the rest of us quite dumb.

    • eric
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Uneducated does not mean evil though. Someone without a college or even a high school degree should be perfectly capable of understanding that separating children from their mothers and then putting those children in cages while you ship the mothers off to a different country is morally reprehensible.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        They likely aren’t getting this information though…do you think that the media that such a person is viewing is broadcasting those facts? Fox News and OAN are likely not reporting it this way…

      • XCellKen
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        I think the common response was “Obama did it too”. Whataboutism is very common with them, whether true or not.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Sounds like a pitch for a new blockbuster: Prozac Nation meets Idiocracy.

      You’ll have to cut the pitch to “25 words or less” if you want Hollywood to bite. 🙂

    • Filippo
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . an outdated public education system . . . .”

      Are you sure it’s not a willfully anti-intellectual mass pop culture?


      “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” (Richard Hofstadter)

      “The Age of American Unreason” (Susan Jacoby)

      “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (Neil Postman)

      “Idiot America” (Charles Pierce)

      “Just How Stupid Are We?” (Rick Shenkman)

  14. DrBrydon
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I didn’t watch. I went to bed early as I had to get up at four this morning. I was interested in watching, mainly to see how Biden comported himself, as I knew waht to expect from Trump.

  15. Stephen Mynett
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I voted no opinion as coming from the other side of the Big Pond know little about the American people so could not make a reasonable guess.

    That said, if you look at the present “leadership” of both countries you will see that liars and cheats can easily take control, although Johnson had a distinct advantage here in that Corbyn was an arrogant idiot.

    I do worry that Trump will somehow manage to get re-elected, opinion polls are not trustworthy and people the world over are idiots.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I do not think Corbyn was arrogant, just out if his depth in a position he did not really want & was woefully inadequate to fill.

      We all have the governments we deserve – they reflect us.

  16. rickflick
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    The suggestion was made that Biden should refuse more debates. I’m tempted to agree. tRump can accuse Biden of chickening out, but I don’t think that will wash. If you watched the spectacle last night it’s easy to understand withdrawal. On the other hand, the next debate will be a town hall which might actually be to Biden’s advantage. He can appear even more humane, compared to Mr. Orange, while answering questions from average people. Turns out, the Biden campaign just said they would go on with the programs as scheduled.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I watched it until the bitter end — but then I’m a glutton for public-affairs punishment like that. Neither candidate covered himself in glory. It was, as CNN commentator Dana Bash said live and in color on national tv immediately after the debate, a complete “shit-show.”

    Chris Wallace failed to maintain control over the proceedings, but given the format negotiated by the parties, I’m not sure what more he could’ve done. He earned combat pay. At some points he must’ve felt like the GIs up near the Yalu River during the Korean conflict when the Red Chinese started sending “human waves” their way.

    Trump was Trump, pure and undistilled, hurling insults and filling the stage air the smog of all his routine grievances. He also couldn’t answer questions about the COVID crises, except to claim Biden would’ve done worse. And he again refused to answer direct questions about climate change. (His pat dodge is to say he “loves clean water and clean air” — on the theory, I guess, that, hey, that has something to do with the environment, too, right?)

    Trump also still has no plan whatsoever for a health system post-Obamacare. And, most infamously, he once again couldn’t bring himself to denounce white supremacy (actually telling the violent neo-fascist group “The Proud Boy” to “stand aside and stand-by” — presumably in case he needs to call upon their services later, such as to contest the election results).

    Biden made a couple glaring errors. (He should, for example, have expected and had an answer in the can regarding Supreme Court packing, but was caught flatfooted.) But Biden had some good moments, too, mainly when he turned directly to the camera and addressed the American people telling them things will get better. His most effective, I thought, came at debate’s end when he assured everyone that, win or lose, this election will be decided by the voters and that the losing party will have to accede to the electorate’s will and relinquish power, whether Donald Trump likes it or not.

    I thought one of the most telling moments in the whole debate came when Joe Biden called Trump “a clown.” It was totally inappropriate and demeaned the dignity of the proceedings. But you could see in Joe’s face that he immediately regretted saying it and even began to take it back, until Trump interrupted him once again. (Trump’s attitude as to everything was as it always is: Je ne regrette rien.)

    If anything, the debate highlighted that one of the candidates in the race is an essentially decent person with normal human emotions, empathy included. The other one is the current leader of the free world.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Yeah, Biden’s clown comment wasn’t a good move but I doubt anyone will hold it against him considering the circumstances.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Hell, tRump IS a clown!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        C’mon, James, that’s not fair … to the Emmett Kellys of the world. 🙂

        • XCellKen
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Or Krusty The Clown

    • Filippo
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      ‘I thought one of the most telling moments in the whole debate came when Joe Biden called Trump “a clown.”’

      If there is another debate, perhaps Biden can say that Trump is the avatar of intellectual curiosity and rational scientific thinking, thereby testing the viewing audience’s capacity for recognizing satire.

    • Posted October 1, 2020 at 3:30 am | Permalink

      It clearly was a mistake to call Trump a clown because everybody seems to be fixating on this one remark instead of the stream of lies and invective that spewed from the clown’s mouth throughout the show and the previous four years.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The bar seems to be set much higher for Biden than Trump.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 1, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Really? Just generally looking at responses online and elsewhere the ‘clown’ comment seems to have gone down quite well. It was some exhaust backfire, some engine crackle, in a debate where Biden seemed to be holding himself back throughout.

      The moral high road is all well and good, but with a bully like Trump people want the opponent to punch back, hard. One of the comments that people liked from Biden was when he said if he’d met a guy like Trump when he was younger he’d have ‘beaten him like a drum’. Now you can call that unseemly, and it is. Sort of. But it’s the kind of rhetoric that resonates when you’re running against a faux-macho, Biff Tannen-a-like bully. People want to see him taken down a peg or two.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 1, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        I thought it completely appropriate for Biden to say, “Will you shut up, man?” when Trump interrupted one of his answers to Wallace’s questions. But I thought the “clown” comment a bit low-road for Biden.

        But my point was not so much about his use of the word “clown” itself, as about Biden’s immediate and obvious reaction to having let it slip out, which shows he’s capable of a type of self-knowledge, humanity, and dignity that Trump will never know himself or ever even be able to understand in others.

        • rickflick
          Posted October 1, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          “…self-knowledge, humanity, and dignity that Trump will never know himself or ever even be able to understand in others.”

          This is one important indicator of psychopathy. Sadly too, he could never learn empathy. It’s simply a missing piece of hardware in the brain that cannot be recovered. My word for the man: Pathetic.

  18. rickflick
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    The Times has an interesting article (or newsletter) on the obvious failings of our democracy and the need for deep reform. They discuss the advantages of a parliamentary system. They point out that the US typically encourages and assists other countries to do transform, yet seems incapable of looking inward. Food for thought.

    • eric
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure that’s the right way to view our assistance. I think it’s probably more accurate to say that the countries themselves are the ones opting for parliamentary-style democracy. The US’ role is (ideally) to help them get to their chosen democratic end point, not to tell them what that end point should be. (And the cynical aside is: when the US does decide to tell another country what their end point should be, we typically install dictators, not democracies, parliamentary or otherwise)

  19. Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Trump will definitely lose ground from this debate, mostly from his support of the Proud Boys and white supremacy in general. It has been reported that Biden has received a large number of donations during and after the debate.

    I think Chris Wallace did about as well as he could be expected under the conditions. He couldn’t get Trump to shut up so he offered Biden a little extra time but not so much that Trump World would cry foul. He also asked reasonably tough questions which surprised me a little coming from a Fox News guy. I wonder how this happens. How do they stop Fox News from pursuing their right wing agenda in these debates? Do they first offer up Tucker Carlson as moderator and the Debate Commission and Biden camp shoot it down?

    I would like to see the ground rules for the other Trump/Biden debates changed. When one takes their turn to speak, the other’s microphone should be turned off. I’m pretty sure they won’t do it because it would kill the event’s spontaneity and Trump would never go for it. Oh well.

    I expect Trump will attempt to control himself for the other debates. No one but the most dedicated of his sycophants have declared him the winner of last night’s debate. I doubt he will be successful in controlling himself.

    • Frank L Wagner
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Turning the microphones won’t work because Trump would keep loudly interrupting and the audience wouldn’t hear it, but Biden would. If they are in separate booths or different locations, it would look too artificial and would turn off the audience even more.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Someone who’s voice you can’t hear well would come off as a raving lunatic. It would draw immediate attention to the fact that the person was speaking out of turn. As to the problem of Trump’s blather bothering Biden, I suspect he could learn to ignore it with practice and good debate prep. Of course this is purely hypothetical. I can’t imagine they would actually do this.

    • eric
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      He also asked reasonably tough questions which surprised me a little coming from a Fox News guy. I wonder how this happens.

      This is just my own opinion, but Fox is not as monolithic as most liberals think. Their local affiliates can be perfectly mainstream and normal (depending on the location), and even some of their big names (like Wallace) tend to be more on the ‘just trying to be a journalist’ side than the ‘card carrying tribe member’ side. Wallace worked for ABC and NBC for something like three decades before moving over to Fox.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        I agree. I guess when Fox gets the chance to moderate a debate, they give it to their Journalism Wing, not their Opinion Wing. We can at least be thankful for that.

        • Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink


        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Call me a cynic, but I’ve my doubts whether the Biden camp would’ve agreed to Sean Hannity.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        Shep Smith was very good, but he left in a hurry, under circumstances that were never adequately explained, after very publicly calling BS on some of Trump’s lies.

        Since his departure, Chris Wallace is about the only straight shooter left in the regular line-up on Fox’s national network.

  20. Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I voted ‘neither’, because the only relevant issue is whether or not Trump’s cronies will have planned their coup well enough for it to work.

    There’s really no other issue for the US at the moment.

    (For the rest of the world the most important issues are of course global warming, human rights, maintaining those democracies that are still functioning, and trying to prevent the US from undermining our efforts regarding these problems.)

  21. Frank L Wagner
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    “If you want him for another four years, then I think you’re either delusional or in love with tyrants (or both), and lack all political judgment.”

    This describes one group of Trump supporters, but there is another group: those who recognize that Trump is an incompetent idiot, but are cynically willing to put up with him because they support his policies, executed by his flunkies (looking at you Mitch McConnell). E.g., anti-abortion rights, pro-white supremacy, more pollution (big business types), less regulation of financial thieves, no gun regulation, no protection of workers or unions, no affirmative action, reactionary judges, voter suppression. This may be even sadder and more dangerous to the continuation of our democracy than the first group.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this constitutes much of his base. Especially abortion. They don’t give a sh!t about anything else*. And look what they got?: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and, soon, Coney Barrett.

      They’re happy as pigs in sh!t.

      (* The old joke about the GOP: They care about you before you’re born and after you die; but in between? You’re on your own. Not really a joke.)

  22. merilee
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink


  23. nay
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    About halfway through, I had to walk away and play solitaire on the computer – I could still hear the debate, but I needed the extra distance from watching it. In this manner, I was able to last the whole hour. Biden held a calm demeanor until the second half, but finally had to say (calmly) “Will you shut up, man?” and looked to the camera saying “can you see what this clown is doing?”. I give him extra points for holding on longer than I could – maybe that’s what years of Washington experience is for, it gives you a stronger stomach. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow said “and then, we left the planet”; Nicole Wallace called it a national humiliation that other countries were watching; Brian Williams brought on guest commentators to analyze “whatever that was that we just saw”.
    I don’t understand PCC(E)’s comment: the “Trump” appearing repeatedly in all the headlines seems to me a bit of editorializing. If you mean the description of his actions as trampling/plunging, agree; if you mean not calling him “President” Trump, strong disagree. I disliked Chris Wallace and Biden referring to him as Mr. President or President Trump. Admittedly, I’ve disliked it for nearly 4 years, but while on that debate stage, he’s just another candidate for office who has to prove his worth to the voters. (Failing.)
    By the way, there was an old TV show where college debate clubs would argue for or against a proposition. The moderator simply stated the rules, put forth the question, and called the time. The teams were then judged on the quality of their arguments. How civilized, how intellectual, how boring. Seems like the only way we can get back to those days is if the moderator is allowed to shoot the rule-breaker or, like Graham Norton, pull a dump switch. At minimum, Chris Wallace should have been issued a whip and a chair.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      “By the way, there was an old TV show where college debate clubs would argue for or against a proposition. The moderator simply stated the rules, put forth the question, and called the time.”

      The Nixon-JFK debates are another good example of how it ought to be.

      • merilee
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        How about a gong?

      • rickflick
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        I remember it well, College Bowl was the TV show and it was pretty enthralling and much faster than Jeopardy. Yes, it was fast paced and delightfully free of interruption a la tRump.

  24. Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    “Chris Wallace lost control of the proceedings from the outset, and I wonder if he did the best he could given the rules of the debate. Trump was like a bellowing, charging elephant that couldn’t be stopped.”

    Until the rules allow the moderator to physically shut that man up, he will continue to interrupt and speak over everyone else.

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      I don’t do Twitter, but someone should definitely start a #MuteButtonNow! thing (if they haven’t already, of course).

  25. GBJames
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I’m glad I didn’t watch.

  26. jezgrove
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    According to the BBC, Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement, “President Trump just turned in the greatest debate performance in presidential history, displaying a command of the facts and control of the conversation.”

    Yeah, right!

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Well, Stepien was half right. Trump did have “control of the conversation”.

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Which is more than can be said of Wallace, sadly…

        • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          I think Wallace did about as well as he could under the circumstances. If he had done more, he would have had Trump World crying foul.

        • eric
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          Wallace lost control before the principles even said a word. He (and the other organizers) let Trump’s family stay in their seats while not wearing masks, even though the audience was required to wear masks. That should have been done before anyone even stood on the podium.

          So the moment Trump takes the stage, he could look out into the audience, see that the organizers were unwilling to enforce the rules, and knew he could walk all over them.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      There’s the customary post-debate spin of a campaign manager and then there’s arrant, outré bullshit.

      Bet you can guess which one Stepien was spreading.

  27. darrelle
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    “If you want him for another four years, then I think you’re either delusional or in love with tyrants (or both), and lack all political judgment.”

    I have felt the same way since I realized about halfway through election night 2016 coverage that Trump was going to win, with one additional option, ignorance. But by now I feel exactly as you do. Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse.

    “Yet Mr. Biden also lobbed a series of bitingly personal attacks of his own.

    “You’re the worst president America has ever had,” he said to Mr. Trump.”
    [Excerpt from the NYT article]

    Personal attack or not it is the truth and it in context it is something that needs to be said. Many times, in many ways.

    • prinzler
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Calling someone the worst president ever is not, in any way shape or form, a personal attack. It is an evaluation of one’s job performance.

      The Times is mistaking a harsh attack for a personal one.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s an evaluation comporting with that of academic historians (those self-identifying as both Democrats and Republicans).

        At the least, he’s in the hunt, at the bottom of pack, among a select group that includes James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Warren Harding.

        I’m betting he’ll have the title carved out to himself by the time his presidency is said and done.

        • Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, you nicely nail the “tiny 4” there. Buchanan hadn’t spring instantly to mind; but yes, he’s right down there (and, apparently, the first gay US POTUS, though that’s hard to prove).

          Trump is right there: Forgot the first rule of holes and is digging as hard as he can.

          • Doug
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Maybe we can have a Mount Rushmore-type sculpture with Buchanan, Johnson, Harding and Trump. Carve it at the base of Mount Rushmore.

          • Filippo
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            “Buchanan . . . apparently, the first gay US POTUS, though that’s hard to prove).”

            Would you care to provide a link to the evidence for that claim?

            Maybe Deborah Solomon will jump on it like a duck on a junebug, inasmuch as she made similar claims about Norman Rockwell from merely looking at his paintings.

            • Posted October 1, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

              You can just check Wiki. There’s quite a bit of evidence; but no proof.

  28. eric
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    As for the news, both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported the debate with headlines castigating Trump, which, I think, is injecting opinion into journalism.

    The BBC opined that Trump’s constant interrupting was in very poor taste for leaders of such a powerful country, and they also reported secondhand that many other nation’s major news outlets said basically the same thing (France, Germany, and India are the ones I remember them mentioning).

    So I don’t think this is just lefty US papers injecting lefty commentary into their reporting. I think Trump’s performance was uncivil enough that practically every journalistic evaluation of the debate (not in the US right’s pocket), from across the international political spectrum, saw his performance as unacceptable of such an event and commented to that effect.

    • EdwardM
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      A quote about the nature and quality of the “debate” (from the Guardian); “…this dark, horrifying, unwatchable fever dream will surely be the first line of America’s obituary.”

      I have lost all hope. I think even though there is really only one option this election, there is only one path for our country now; decline, chaos and collapse.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      “So I don’t think this is just lefty US papers injecting lefty commentary into their reporting.”

      I think the Times, as has been its wont during the last decade or so, did opinionate in its reporting. But not about Trump’s incessant interrupting, which was manifestly obvious.

  29. Roo
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I disagree with the ‘deplorables’ take. I have many extended family members who support Trump, and I think it stems largely from the fact that:

    1. His actual policies, when totally divorced from his public persona, are generally just GOP policies, so if they’re tyrannical, they’re no more tyrannical than the rest of the Republican party.

    2. They see him as railing against a perceived enemy who needs to be taken down a peg. If that seems odd, imagine someone railing against an ideological group that you really don’t like in a similar manner and see if it seems at least somewhat more forgivable.

    I’m not saying I agree or that I think this represents a particularly thoughtful mindset, but I think that when you really come into contact with Trump supporters, you see that they are not so foreign as people on the Left imagine they are.

    That said, I think Trump’s unpredictable and domineer-at-all-costs persona is a huge liability for him right now. We are in the middle of a pandemic and civil unrest. I feel one cannot stress enough how much people want stability and predictability right now. Also, I think there is an increasing fear of being on the receiving end of thuggish behavior from social justice mobs, and this cuts both ways. I think people are reassessing and becoming frustrated with the dynamic of people idly sitting by and allowing whoever acts like the biggest bully to be in charge. In so much of online life, people come into contact with the “Everyone is having an interesting discussion until someone barges in and starts screaming, and then we all have to kowtow to that person.” I think people are over that, and they don’t want to see it anywhere, on either side.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I hear this a lot but then I see scenes like the one shown on CNN where they ask a bunch of Trump-supporting farmers whether they think China created COVID-19 deliberately to undermine the US. Their overwhelming response was, “Oh yeah”, “You bet!”, and the like. They may be nice people in the interpersonal sense but they are deplorable citizens because they don’t take the time to be informed and allow themselves to become victims of con men and conspiracy theories.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Good point. The 4 tRump folks in our extended family are different in many ways, but one thing unites them. They are politically naive (no interest in policy generally) and very poorly informed (Fox News only). Those with broader minds are for Biden. I hesitate to call the tRumpees deplorable, but within the domain of politics, they are.

    • eric
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      His actual policies, when totally divorced from his public persona, are generally just GOP policies,

      No, they aren’t. The GOP was pro-free trade, Trump created international trade barriers. The GOP under Bush called for comprehensive immigration reform, Trump wants basically no immigration (except from white Europe) at all. The GOP supported our interventions in Syria, Afghanistan, heck they started our intervention in Iraq, but Trump doesn’t. The GOP opposed Russian interference in our own country as well as Europe, Trump doesn’t. The GOP opposed NK’s dictatorship, Trump supports it.

      Your family likely flip-flopped on all those issues in their support of Trump. And they will likely flip-flop back when the next GOP leader takes positions opposite Trump’s on these issues. And they’ll do it thinking the entire time through that they’re just being consistently conservative. What Trump has done is to take the term ‘conservative’ and transform it into a cult of personality position, away from any stable policy position.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        “What Trump has done is to take the term ‘conservative’ and transform it into a cult of personality position, away from any stable policy position.”

        Very well said. This is why so many religious conservatives can somehow support Trump.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink


      • GBJames
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        The last four years have shown the entire party to unprincipled flip-floppers. One need look no further than the principles which determine whether a president’s nominee for Supreme Court gets a hearing in the year before a new term begins.

      • Curtis
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        You are correct that Trump’s policies are not the policies of traditional GOP leaders but I think some of them reflect the core beliefs of the GOP voters. Working class voters are anti-trade and anti-immigration because they blame globalism for their decline. They also resent the elites (Democrat and Republican) that got filthy rich while causing the financial crisis.

        Bernie and Trump used this anti-globalism and anti-elitism to get support and both turned themselves into a cult leaders (Bernie obviously less so). It was helped by the contempt shown by the mainstream towards both Bernie and Trump supporters.

        The average Republican voter will flip flop on many topics including foreign policy but they will always being anti-globalist and anti-immigration. They will always hate the financial elites who make money without producing anything. They will always hate elitists who deplore their religion and lifestyle.

        • GBJames
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think they hate the financial elites at all. They think of themselves as temporarily inconvenienced millionaire and respect tRump in part because they think he’s a successful businessman.

          • Curtis
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

            I was trying to distinguish between people in the finance field and other business people. Bankers, insurers, quants, traders have all gotten filthy rich by taking risks without tangible gains. Instead of promoting stability, the financial industry has caused crisis after crisis.

            Republicans generally admire people who have successful business careers in making things whether it is casinos or computers or cars. Trump doesn’t really fit in this category which is why has been trying to hide his tax returns.

            • GBJames
              Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

              They respect bankers, too. Unless they are Jewish.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      1. His actual policies, when totally divorced from his public persona, are generally just GOP policies …

      Donald Trump has been careful to stay on the safe side of the “third rails” of Republican politics — guns, God, abortion, and the like. But, with his Birtherism background that gave him his initial toehold in electoral politics, he brought to the surface an ugly, xenophobic, know-nothing white-nationalist populism that had long been lingering in the GOP bloodstream.

      And Trump has crapped all over traditional conservatism — or at least the values traditional conservative Republicanism paid lip-service to: limited government, balanced budgets, free trade, open markets, personal rectitude and probity, a due regard for American institutions and traditions and norms, strict constitutional construction, maintenance of strong international alliances, and opposition to Russian aggression and expansionism, among them.

      When Trump first took over the Republican Party, many of us wished to chalk it up initially, at least in part, to the economic anxiety of the American white working class. But after four years of Trump’s ugly personal conduct, atrocious policies, and governmental malfeasance while occupying the Oval Office, that excuse will no longer suffice. What constitutes his hardcore supporters now are the deplorables, the donor class which stands to benefit personally from his pro-rich economic policies, and those poor benighted, brainwashed souls forever trapped inside the insular echo-chamber of Fox News, right-wing blogs, and talk radio.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 1, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Just so.

    • Roo
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Trying to summarize responses to the above comments into one here:

      – Remember that the Trump supporters you see on the news will of course be a sensationalized group, not representative of all his supporters.

      – It’s a fair point that Trump has diverged from the GOP in a few areas, usually to come closer in line with populist thinking, I think. But I stand by my larger point that the biggest complaints one can make about him tend to be his interpersonal style. I’m not downplaying the importance of that – this is the President of the United States, the person who represents us on the world stage. That is of course important. A President’s communication impacts relationships at home and abroad. That said, I think there is still a fairly substantial gulf between the complaints one could make about his persona and interpersonal style vs. his actual policies. Democrats focus on the former, Republicans, the latter. When one talks of Trump as a tyrant, for example – in his personal relationships (which are not ‘just’ personal – they are a big part of our country’s politics,) it certainly seems as if this could be true. In his actual policies, however, he has not proposed anything particularly tyrannical.

      – One of the main drivers behind Trump supporters, in my limited and anecdotal experience, is a sense of cultural divide. There is just a fundamental distrust of Liberals as being profoundly different and not having the country’s best interest at heart, in the same way liberals obviously think the same of Trump supporters. What to blame that on, and who started it and why, is no doubt very complex. But I know Trump supporters who generally seem like nice, reasonable people who think that coastal liberals are evil nitwits who want to destroy us all, even though I can think of coastal liberals who, if they ever met, they would probably get along with very well. More and more, they’re just seen as outsiders to be viewed with great suspicion. Liberals certainly don’t help this dynamic with the whole Wokeness movement, but I do think these sentiments long precede Wokeness. There is just a sense of clannishness in conservative circles, again, in my limited anecdotal experience.

      • GBJames
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        ”he has not proposed anything particularly tyrannical.”

        Really? Using the US military to clear peaceful demonstrators from streets? Separating children from their parents and keeping them in cages?

        As for the rest… wokism is not a liberal thing. It is explicitly anti-liberal.

        • Roo
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          I think if you want to use that definition of ‘tyrannical’ (which I don’t think is what most people picture upon hearing the word – more like a country where you will be monitored and hauled off and raped / tortured upon criticizing the government,) then it’s a moot point because the US was already tyrannical in that framework, and may arguably have become less so during the Trump years, mostly via coincidence as the War On Terror was already winding down. There is a Noam Chomsky school of thought that argues that sort of thing and it has been around for awhile, so I find it a little disingenuous when liberals suddenly subscribe to this thinking but only in the case of Trump. Again, if this is truly what a person thinks, then the logically consistent conclusion is that one has already been living in said feared tyranny.

          On wokeism… I hope so. I think liberals are united on the election right now, and that this is important. I think we’ll get a more realistic picture of people’s opinions on the topic when there is a Democrat in the White House, whenever that may be.

    • KD
      Posted October 1, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      If the deplorables did not exist, man would have to invent them.

  30. darrelle
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Regarding whether the debate changed any minds, some polls I’ve seen indicate that it did, but whether they paint an accurate picture or not, and how long lived any actual effect might turn out to be, I couldn’t guess.

    Some screen shots of a CNN poll.

    Before vs After, Who Will vs Who Did Win

    Were Biden’s Attacks Fair?

    Were Trump’s Attacks Fair?

    Did The Debate Make You More Likely To Vote For . . .?

    PDF Copy of the Poll

  31. Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I think tRump’s worsening ranting belligerence is a good sign. He knows he is going to lose.

  32. Curtis
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Calling half of the American public deplorable is inaccurate and not helpful. They are mostly good and decent people who see the world differently then you do because they lead a different life.

    Communities went from being the backbone of American society to gutted holes filled with opioid addiction and suicide. Male working class income and health has been falling for decades. Their working class way of life has been destroyed by globalism. Their religion is mocked. The schools have devalued vocational skills. They see bankers destroy the economy without any penalty. The elites (Republican and Democrats) do not care about them or want to understand them.

    They are justifiably mad and embraced the first politician who reached out them. It seems absurd that a billionaire bully is their hero but he was the first since Bill Clinton who claimed to feel their pain. Also remember that Trump won by flipping working class Obama voters to Trump voters.

    This not a defense of Trump but a defense of Trump voters.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      You know the story that they believe but it just isn’t true. It’s a story that the GOP have seeded for decades. Trump just came along and took full advantage of it.

      • Curtis
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protests were in reaction to the financial crisis. Each side correctly saw the system rigged for the rich.

        I agree that some Republicans co-opted the Tea Party while ignoring their real complaints. Trump (and Bernie) promised to fix their problems in totally unrealistic ways. They are mad as heck and not going to take it any more.

        Trump should be a wake up call. His election has made less libertarian in the last four years. I wish the elites on both sides could “feel their pain” instead showing condescending contempt. The government needs to find economically realistic ways to help the poor regardless of color.

        • Jim Danielson
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

          “Each side correctly saw the system rigged for the rich.”

          The tea party movement was created and funded by the Koch brothers and other very wealthy parties. The so called ‘grassroots movement’ supporters were led around like sheep with rings in their noses by some very wealthy libertarian/Republican moneyed interests.

          Nothing has changed since.

    • darrelle
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      The voters you’ve described seem to me to fall squarely into the delusional basket. Not because of their ideological commitment to conservatism, or what have you, but because the narrative they believe, which you summarized, is divorced from reality and there has been more than enough opportunity for them to see that.

      Although there is definitely some room for deplorableness here too. Trump’s reaching out to working class folks was, is, pathetic. Anyone who equates Trump’s “reaching out” as a positive thing would seem to be averring that they are okay with behavior and attitudes that most decent folk would punish a kindergartener for in hopes of raising a decent human being.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Male working class income and health has been falling for decades. Their working class way of life has been destroyed by globalism. Their religion is mocked. The schools have devalued vocational skills. They see bankers destroy the economy without any penalty.

      Which are all long-standing GOP policies or resulting from GOP policies. The GOP have fooled them with the 4-Gs: God, Guns, Gays, and Blacks.

      • Curtis
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Good catch on guns but I think you are wrong on gays and blacks. Bigots vote for Trump but most Trump voters are not bigots. According to Wikipedia, in 48 states gay marriage is more popular than not. Trump won by attracting working class people who voted for Obama.

        Both the Democrat and Republican establishments endorsed policies that impoverished small town America. Only Bernie cared and his policies are as economically illiterate as Trump’s.

        • Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you. But the overall, long-term GOP strategy has been the 4-Gs. If you consider that nearly all Dems feel that same-sex marriage is OK, then a bare majority leaves a huge amount of GOPers against it.

          It’s a coalition of 2nd-A people, anti-abortion people, the religious right (which is mainly the anti-abortion crowd), and people who are bigoted against: Gays, blacks, Hispanics, native Americans, etc. Along with some libertarians and other fiscal conservatives (who have various overlap on the other categories).

          My family (extended family) are Trumpers — and lots of them are bigots.

          The Dems may have gone along in compromise with the changes in the US economy (some were inevitable); but the GOP lead the charge.

          The story of US politics since I have been aware of it (circa 1979) has been a long, slow shift to the right and to more and more GOP power. And they’ve done it with the 4-Gs and a really good ground game: Think tanks, policy papers, grass roots organizing at the local level up through county, state, and national.

          I watched all this somewhat from the inside. My Dad was a founding member of the Minnesota Conservative Union. (It didn’t take in the next generation.)

          At my Dad’s funeral, some years ago, one of his very old MCU colleagues came up to me. She looked me in the eye (with a somewhat crazed look) and said, “Obama is the Devil!!” Believe me, she meant it.

          We went from the “Minnesota Miracle” to an often GOP-controlled state house aggressively trying to turn a fine place into a low-tax (sh!thole) state. (I’ve spent quite a bit of time in low-tax states. I don’t want to live in one.) We seem to be holding our own against the GOP for now here; but I’m not sanguine for the long term.

          tRump has done generational damage on the SCOTUS appointments. And they may abet him in a political coup, come Nov-4 through 22-Jan. (I kept saying, over and over, to Dems luke warm or hostile to HRC in 2016: SCOTUS, SCOTUS, SCOTUS, if nothing else vote for her for the sake of the SCOTUS. Ah, but Dems want to fall in love. I can only hope they won’t make the same mistake this year.)

          • GBJames
            Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            “We seem to be holding our own against the GOP for now here”

            Well, you’ve done better than we have. That’s for sure. Walker’s Republicans have made us the Mississippi of the North.

            • Posted October 1, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

              Oh, man, the Walker effect on WI. The obscene gerrymandering the GOP performed on WI after the 2010 should embarrass the most cynical pol.

              As I’m sure you know, in 2018, the GOP took (approx., I don’t have the figures to hand)63% of the State Assy. seats with (again approx.) 45% of the votes, despite losing every statewide office. Outrageous.

              Many of my relatives in NE WI are hard-core Trumpers.

              I feel for you.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 1, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

                Oh, how I know!

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Trump won by attracting working class people who voted for Obama.

          Trump received 1.1% less of the popular vote in 2016 than Mitt Romney got in losing to Obama in 2012. So while there were some Obama-Trump voters, I question how large the number and how pivotal a role they played in the 2016 election.

          Trump won because he’s a life-long conman who sold a bogus bill of goods to an understandably disgruntled sector of the electorate, because he had all the help a hostile foreign power could give him, because of the anachronistic absurdity of the electoral college, and because of shithouse luck in sucking out an inside straight in three rustbelt states after going all-in against a better hand.

  33. Alexander
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I strongly suspect that the debate between Kamela Harris and Pence (who seems to be radio-controlled by Trump) will be the last nail in the coffin of Trump’s aspirations. I’m sure that the duo of Biden with his wisdom and life experience and Harris with her sharp mind will allow the US to breathe again.

  34. Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    At least my biggest fear did not materialize, which was that tRump would look half-way presidential and Biden would babble. Biden did start to babble at some points, but tRump kept interrupting him. And, of course, tRump look zero percent presidential.

  35. EB
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Biden certainly won, but only due to Trump’s ugly behavior. Trump is mean and totally humorless this time around. At least Biden is capable of cracking a smile once in a while.

    I interpret all of this craziness in the context of the US restructuring its economy away from manufacturing since the 1980s. The deleterious consequences of that shift are such that half of the country is so desperate for an alternative to the status quo that they’ll throw down for a total maniac like Trump, even after 4 years of this mess. Which tells me that a Biden win will not really be a return to normalcy, but a sort of holding action by the liberal and moderate factions of the political elite. The economy needs to be reoriented so that economic gains are broadly shared by the public, or this problem will pop up under new guises. I do dread the prospect of a more serious far right leader in the post-Trump era.

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      “I interpret all of this craziness in the context of the US restructuring its economy away from manufacturing since the 1980s.”

      What neither party will do is explain to the citizens that these changes were inevitable and, rather than trying to hang on to manufacturing like it’s the only thing that matters, they should embrace a move to a more modern economy. I’m not saying to give up on manufacturing. A lot of manufacturing still occurs in the US. The stuff I’m talking about is like how Trump is still fighting for US petroleum dominance while the world is busy moving on to clean energy. We have to look forwards, not backwards.

      • EB
        Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Right, we need new ideas, not simply retracing our steps backward.

  36. Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    International press and polls I’ve seen say it was a cacophonous “American shitshow” (Buzzfeed, also quoted by Der Spiegel). Trump trampled over Biden, and interrupted all the time, and Biden occasionally lost presidential decorum, too. Trump didn’t come out on top, but it also did not help Biden that much, because apparently most people were just generally turned off by this loud theatre.

    I only saw excerpts today, and thought that this display of politics is only reliably increasing the non-voters. I think this is bad news because it tends to harm Biden more than Trump.

    My overall impression remains unchanged that Biden generates no internet-visible enthusiasm. Maybe there is a huge reservoir of people who’d quietly vote Biden. I just don’t have any evidence for that. My impression is that Biden can only win on the weakness and sheer ineptitude of Trump, in particular his handling of the pandemic, now that Trump passed the opportunity to play strong leader in a crisis (still a mystery why he didn’t exploit it, but played it down instead).

    My current hunch is that Biden will win, but only narrowly, acutely threatened by non-voters and the US practice to make voting as cumbersome as possible.

    • GBJames
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      I think you are wrong, at least based on the reaction of Republican senators who are running away from tRump’s support for the Proud Boys last night.

  37. revelator60
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Clinton actually said that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorables. That would be less than 25% of the country—the same percentage that supported Nixon even during Watergate.

    There will always be a considerable percentage of Americans who would support an outright criminal as President, provided that he continued pandering to their prejudices and abjection. They would be fine with fascism and rule by tyrant, so long as it pretended to be Democratic. After all, the trend all over the world is for authoritarian strongmen to hold sham elections and claim they represent the people. Trump admires such scumbags and would be delighted to make the US the equivalent of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey. He lacks the intelligence and organizational talent of those strongmen, but four more years of his misrule would further weaken America and soften it up for the any right-wing demagogue in the wings who has authoritarian aspirations.

    • Alexander
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, people, in Europe and elsewhere, have forgotten Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. How little about what is known about what happened to Jewish people during WW II by today’s youth is frightening.

  38. Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    They are changing the rules yo try to rdgain control…

    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Rules, what rules?

      tRump sh!ts on all rules. This is one of his defining traits.

      They are not shifting the rules, they going to try to steal the election by whatever means necessary. And tRump has some pretty big tools to hand.

      At rock-bottom, my only real hope is that he has pissed off the military so badly that they will tell him to fuck off when he attempts to declare an emergency and martial law to stop the vote counting.

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Sorry – I meant the people running the ‘debates’ say they want to change how they are run…

      • Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        The next debate is a town hall Q/A format which might make it a little harder for Trump to interject. It also makes the mic cutoff idea more practical.

        • Filippo
          Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          ” . . . which might make it a little harder for Trump to interject . . . .”

          Yes, it would be a good test for Trump to determine if he can resist the temptation to interrupt/cut off a voter/questioner, in front of millions of voters viewing the debate.

          • Posted September 30, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

            I would worry more that Trump interrupts Biden’s answer rather than the question. It would not be a good look to interrupt a voter asking a question. Now that I think about it, Trump wouldn’t hesitate much before interrupting Biden as long as he was speaking in the same room. I have no idea what adjustments the Debate Commission has in mind.

            • GBJames
              Posted October 1, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

              tRump would not hesitate to interrupt a questioner if he perceived that the question was the least bit “unfair”. He’ll attack anything that he doesn’t think is supportive of him.

              • Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

                I don’t think interrupting a citizen questioner would be a good look for Trump. I can’t say he wouldn’t do it, of course, but he would show a lot more restraint in that situation than if the moderator asked him a question. Of course, in many of these town hall venues the moderator does some of the questioning too. Not sure about the upcoming presidential debate though.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

                Whether it is a “good look” for him has no bearing on his behavior. Surely we’ve learned that much over the last four years.

              • Posted October 7, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

                He will also interrupt b/c he doesn’t know anything about the subject matter. He is so stupid that there are not many things he actually knows, even after being briefed on them. That is why he served the schools he attended with letters from his attorneys stating they are forbidden to release his grades, grade point average, or how long he attended the school. Why hide anything if he is “the smartest man alive” as he constantly tries to trick people in believing?
                He lies about everything that comes out of his mouth b/c he is ignorant, unread, and loves lying.

        • tuscanitalian
          Posted October 7, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          I agree. It is a shame that we have to take steps to make the President of the United States act civil and be respectful. He and his whole family should be embarrassed at the way he acts and lies!

          • GBJames
            Posted October 7, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            tRump and embarrassment have never knowingly met each other.

  39. phoffman56
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    “If you want him for another four years, then I think you’re either delusional or in love with tyrants (or both), and lack all political judgment.”

    To be fussy:
    There are a few, very deplorable in another sense, hugely selfish criminal grafters, politicians and otherwise, who will also vote for Drumpf (including him of course, people like deVos, Mnuchin, his family, ?Melania?, not many of the other relevant high priced prostitutes, etc…).

  40. Posted September 30, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I voted that the debate would neither help nor hurt Trump, but Biden’s somewhat lackluster performance may help Trump indirectly if more people decide not to vote at all. If enthusiasm for Biden deteriorates into what it was for Hillary last time, he’s in trouble. That said, I still intend to vote for him.

  41. Posted September 30, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I live, in the R bastion known as Tn. That place where you are now with our orange idiots followers, I’ve been there for a while.

    Deplorables is far too nice of a description. These people have lost their minds to goddamn cult. Yeah, they dress nice and go to church. Yeah they will greet you with a smile. Yeah they seem normal in many respects. But let’s not be fooled.

    It is clear where these people stand, by exactly where they stand.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      “I live, in the R bastion known as Tn.”

      I grew up there. This is especially true of East Tennessee (the mirror image of Western North Carolina, with the exception of progressive Asheville). Middle and West are more Democratic.

  42. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    There is third, dangerous group of voters aside from those who will vote for Trump and those who will vote for Biden: Those who will vote for neither. My FB feed is full of comments like “If the DNC wanted us to vote for Biden they should have endorsed Medicare for All” … or endorsed some other plank from Bernies’ program. I don’t know how influential those voices are, nor do I know how many of them are Russian Troll farm accounts, but they are relentless in denying that a vote for anything other than everyone on the Democrats’ ticket is a vote for Trump and his GOP.

  43. Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    “Will you shut up, man?” has become a meme.

  44. Jay
    Posted October 1, 2020 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I would like to add my two cents to the comments about who comprises Trump voters. Among my friends, I know of two. Neither are deplorable. Both are prominent scientists (one, in fact, a Nobel laureate), both Jewish. One plans to vote for Trump because he fears that Democrats, under influence from the Left, will fail Israel. The other, who grew up in the Communist former USSR, views the increasingly influential Woke orthodoxy approaching the authoritarian thought-policing that he experienced in the Soviet Union.

    I’m not disagreeing with Jerry’s contention that the majority of Trump voters are deplorable individuals. Rather, I’m saying that there are voters who view the authoritarianism of the Woke left as more a threat that the authoritarianism of Trump. The more influence the Woke left gains in the Democratic party, the greater the backlash will be.

    • Posted October 1, 2020 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      The woke left hasn’t got as much power as people think. They just shout loudly.

      This is the true reason why Bernie Sanders has twice failed to get the Democrat nomination: The majority of Democrats don’t want him. The reason the woke left come up with conspiracy theories to account for his losses is because they don’t want to confront the truth, which is that they hold a fringe position.

      By the way, the idea of voting for Trump because it will keep Israel safer is somewhat putting the cart before the horse. There are nearly twice as many Jews living in the USA as in Israel. If the Trump shitshow gets another four years and the white supremacists get more established, it’s not going to go well for them. Plus, if the USA is not functioning properly, it won’t be able to protect Israel.

      • Jay
        Posted October 1, 2020 at 4:52 am | Permalink

        It’s not where the Woke stand today; it’s where they’re going to be tomorrow. It’s not the snapshot; it’s the trend.

        • Posted October 1, 2020 at 4:56 am | Permalink

          Where do you think they’re going to be tomorrow? As long as they continue to push their more silly ideas, they’re going nowhere in terms of actually getting people elected to positions of power.

          • Jay
            Posted October 1, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

            I think they’re going to be considered the new normal. On the university campus, they already are.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted October 1, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

          This is precisely the problem with focusing too much attention on wokeness: we end up convincing people that it’s a civilisational threat – as a result, an openly authoritarian president who tells his fascist supporters to “stand by” in case he loses the election becomes a perfectly rational choice.

          • Posted October 1, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

            I, for one, reject the notion that I’m putting too much attention on wokeness. And I reject the idea that I should ratchet back my reporting and concentrate more on Trump. You might not be referring to me, but I want to say once again that I do not accept criticism that I go after the Authoritarian Left too much and need to focus more on Trump because I’ve convinced people that wokeism is a “civilizational threat.”

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted October 2, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

              This is your website, and you can only write about what interests you. I couldn’t force myself to write about the things that didn’t interest me either…or the things that simply depress me, as I get the sense Trump does with you.
              So in that sense I understand the focus at WEIT, while nevertheless disagreeing with it.

              • Posted October 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

                Well, if you disagree with the focus of the site, maybe you’d be better served by patronizing other sites, as you’re not going to change my focus.

                I’d suggest Pharyngula.

          • Posted October 1, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

            Even though many here, our host included, battle against Wokeness taking over society, its portrayal as a civilizational threat is overblown. It’s clear to me that this is being used as an excuse to vote for Trump or protect a cherished set of ideas. Anyone who has a gut-feeling they should vote for Trump should examine their motivations closely, though they may not like what they see.

          • sugould
            Posted October 2, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            Pointing out how wokeism became pervasive nonsense = encouraging “an openly authoritarian president”?

            Trump needed no such prompting at all— he’s always done whatever he wanted, and whatever he can get away with. And, thanks to Mitch McConnell, and all the other self-serving Republicans, he’s gotten away with darn near everything.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Sanders isn’t a Wokester, although some of his supporters are. He’s an old fashioned Democratic Socialist type… a liberal. Conflating wokeism with Democratic Socialism is a category mistake.

        • Posted October 1, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          I didn’t say Sanders himself is woke, but he was the candidate many of them were pinning their hopes on.

  45. KD
    Posted October 1, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    America has a professional managerial class (PMC) that serves as the organs of the system. In its self-conception, it possesses the right to rule because its moral superiority to the proles, who are stupid and racist in the mold of Archie Bunker. Despite talk about democracy, this class is fundamentally antagonistic to direct democracy or political activities not managed by the PMC to serve its class interests.

    In many ways, the PMC are comparable to the role of the Orthodox Church in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Priests saw their authority vested in moral terms, and to the extent there was meliorist efforts with respect to the industrial proletariat or the peasants, it had to be guided and controlled by the Church, or it posed a threat to the social order.

    In 2016, Trump seized power by flouting and mocking the moral norms of the PMC. Trump’s campaign and rhetoric both mocked and flouted the moral attitudes of the PMC, and his victory created a sense of existential threat in the minds of the PMC, as their power was dependent on their authority which was itself dependent on an acknowledgment by the proles of the PMC’s claim to moral superiority over them. A priest class that is not viewed by the laity as morally superior is in danger of outright destruction or irrelevance.

    Biden’s rhetoric of restoration is the sale of an idea to the PMC that his election will result in the restoration of moral authority to the PMC. It is ultimately illusory, as the PMC has already exhausted itself, it certainly can maintain its power, but it will have to do so increasingly with the fist, which will further dilute any appearance of moral legitimacy or authority. It may be difficult to make the transition, but ultimately, in similar dynamics to European colonies, the colonists were able to drop the humanitarian facade and assert dominance directly through force.

    Trump, on the other hand, while running against the PMC, had no option but to utilize the PMC in actual governance, which resulted in constant betrayals (which happens when you employ those who view you as a class enemy) as well as constant contradictions. Further, these problems were exacerbated by the fact that Trump is a narcissist who is only interested in being the center of attention rather than governing (let alone a project of transformational politics). But the damage has been done to the PMC, like the Orthodox Church in pre-Revolutionary Russia, it has lost a large share of its legitimacy in the eyes of the proles.

    America was competently governed by elites during and after the Second World War with an eye to limiting the destabilizing effects of laissez faire capitalism in order to prevent the resurgence of communism and fascism. That system has been gradually undermined, in large part by the PMC, over the last 50 years, into a system based on looting by an oligarchy. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, as the system is set up to protect the looters. You have elite overproduction, popular immiseration, and it will end in civil unrest and possibly civil war. If Biden wins, the PMC will be able to pat itself on the back, but the same looting will continue that continues in the Trump administration, generating the same power struggle amongst elites and the same disaffection amongst the subjects which will be exploited by counter-elites.

    Nothing to do now but wait until the next Lenin or the next Mussolini climbs to the top of the greasy pole. However, the good news is that your equity portfolio should do well in the near to mid-term.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 1, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      That’s quite the procrustean bed you’ve squeezed the last three-quarters of a century’s worth of untidy history into.

      Does it come with a turn-down service and a chocolate left on the pillow?

  46. Posted October 1, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I am fairly certain that this debate did not change any minds, nor did it lead anyone who is still undecided one way or the other. My opinion is still that Trump won, but just barely. Yes, Trump interrupted. But where was the outrage when Biden did the same thing against Paul Ryan several years ago? He was called aggressive. I felt like Trump actually gave more facts about what was going on. I’m sorry, but ‘because it’s election season. let the people decide.’ is not a reason to not name a new judge. Biden should not have dodged the question about who he would name to the bench. Nor should he have called the president a clown or told him to shut up. But for the most part, I thought Biden held his own and did very well. Just too many liberal talking points. Yes, a disaster, but Trump ekes out the W.

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  1. […] Last night’s “debate” was an unmitigated disaster. No..Biden didn’t come across as fire and brimstone, but he was decent. But Trump…well, he probably appealed to, well, 40 percent of the voters. He did nothing to help himself. This is a reasonable take: […]

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