Picture two children arguing in front of a teacher on why one should be able to play with a ball over the other. That is what the 2020 presidential debate was like between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump completely derailed the debate turning it into guerilla warfare through an unyielding disregard for the rules set forth to ensure a civil discussion.
Biden swayed away from predictions and was the candidate mostly on the offensive with his arguments about Trump’s record. He kept composure by laughing off most of the provocation from his opponent. Trump’s tactics for the debate were largely composed of false statements, vague answers, dodging questions, taunts, heckling and launching personal attacks on Biden.
Within ten minutes of the first segment on the topic of the Supreme Court the debate sheared off track. After Biden criticized Trump’s Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s objective to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News inquired about Trump’s unfulfilled promise to devise a replacement for Obamacare. Unsurprisingly, Wallace did not receive a direct answer from the evasive President.
“The individual mandate was the most unpopular aspect of Obamacare and we got rid of it,” Trump repeatedly emphasized.
When Wallace asked Biden how he would approach the Affordable Care Act, Trump unrelentlessly heckled Biden during his explanation on his plan to add a public option to include those qualified for Medicaid. Trump’s ruckus continued to irk his opponent until Biden decided to return fire himself.
“Will you shut up man,” Biden shot back. “This is so unpresidential.”
During the segment concerning the COVID-19 crisis Biden criticized Trump’s decision to downplay the severity of the virus and his lack of transparency with the American public.
Biden added, “You should get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap and your golf course and go in the Oval Office and bring together the Democrats and Republicans and fund what needs to be done now to save lives.”
Rather than acknowledge Biden’s statements or taking responsibility for his actions, Trump pivots the conversation towards Biden’s performance during the H1N1 pandemic, completely missing the crux of the COVID issue.
“H1N1. You were a disaster,” Trump said.
This is one of the many invalid statements Trump made during the debate and is easily debunked by data from the Center of Disease Control (CDC). During the time of the Swine Flu pandemic under the Obama administration, the United States suffered 12,469 deaths within a year. That is paltry compared to the 206,402 deaths suffered by the United states since the first laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. from January 20, 2020 under the Trump administration. 206,402 deaths in less than 8 months compared to 12,469 deaths in a year. Let that sink in.
When Biden put forth his assessment on Trump’s performance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic saying Trump needed to “get a lot smarter a lot quicker”, Trump responded with this:
“Did you use the word ‘smart’? So you said you went to Delaware State but you forgot the name of your college. You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word. Because you know what? There’s nothing smart about you, Joe. Forty-seven years you’ve done nothing.”
Trump decided it was of great importance to fire an accusation in the form of a playground insult on Biden’s intellect, on the grounds of yet another false statement. Biden had actually referred to Delaware State University as the place he got his political start rather than the main start of his education.
Trump’s most critical blunders came once the topics of race, law enforcement, and the military were introduced. Trump once again swerved aside Wallace’s pressure to directly condemn the actions of white supremacists concerning racial violence and extremism.
“Proud Boys stand back and stand by,” Trump responded. “Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.”
Not only did Trump refuse to forthrightly denounce white supremacy, he started placing blame for the recent political violence on Biden’s side of the political spectrum. He told a far-right, neo facist, male-only organization with known ties to white supremacists, to “stand back and stand by,” implying that he intends to either ally with them or use them to his benefit for a later time. He did not urge them to stop sparking more violence, he did not condemn their actions or their ideology, not even a tiny remark placing responsibility on the armed militia group. His claim that the problem is mainly due to the left-wing is even disproven to be misleading when Biden countered with a statement from the F.B.I. Christopher Wray, who said that “racially motivated violent extremism,” is engaged by mostly white supremacists and “make up a majority of domestic terrorism threats.”
The exchange reached a new low when Biden brought up Trump’s record of referring to American soldiers killed in action as “losers” and “suckers” when he denied the proposal of visiting the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. Biden expressed his resentment towards Trump’s words since Biden himself has two veteran sons, one of which, Beau Biden, had passed away from brain cancer.
“He got the Bronze Star. He got the Conspicuous Service Medal. He was not a loser. He was a patriot,” Biden said, visibly shaken.
In retort, Trump completely bypassed the topic of his disrespectful words towards the fallen soldiers that Biden brought up earlier, and chose to attack Biden’s other son, Hunter Biden, which utterly dismisses the subject of Beau, the deceased veteran son. Trump launched a barrage of attacks made of misleading statements and partial truths in an attempt to either rattle or provoke his opponent. Hunter Biden had actually been administratively discharged due to a failed drug test for cocaine use.
Despite having the sitting President launch accusations against his living son of being a disgraced soldier and drug addict, as well as disrespecting his deceased son, Biden remarkably controlled his temper.
Unfortunately, Biden missed opportunities to push back against his opponent when Trump was questioned about the true amount of tax he paid during the year he was elected as well. He failed to present arguments strong or effective enough to silence his opponent from further interjections. If a winner of this debate had to be chosen, it would be Biden but only because of the many failings made by Trump. Trump’s words during the debate mirrored his own Twitter feed. He disrupted the debate by taunting Biden with disparaging remarks through criticisms and accusations based on a plethora of falsehoods.
The debate had been fact-checked by the New York Times during an online stream hosted by the newspaper. Biden was fact-checked a total of 13 times with a ratio of 8 statements being either true or mostly true to 5 statements that were false, exaggerated, or misleading. Trump on the other hand was fact-checked a total of 37 times, with a ratio of 2 statements being either true or mostly true to a staggering 35 statements proven to be false, misleading, exaggerated, or just outright lacked any evidence.
This debate was anything but civil or controlled. Chaos reigned the duration of the debate using the President’s mouth as an emissary. Nothing substantial was produced, voters watching didn’t get a single glimpse of a detailed plan from either side that would improve the state of the country, no responsibility was taken. Nothing but blame being tossed around, cross chatter, faulty arguments and wordy sucker punches.
Biden sarcastically noted, “That was a really productive segment wasn’t it. Keep yapping, man.”