About The Debate The Other Night
When I think of Trump, I think of Geraldo Rivera. When I think of Joe Biden, I think of Dick Cavett.
So the night before last, I had a bout of insomnia. I just couldn’t sleep. So I got up for my morning routine, starting at 1:30 am instead of my usual 4 or 5 am. I watched the debate from my laptop just to see what had happened. What I saw was the difference between a man who follows the rules and one who doesn’t.
Trump didn’t follow the rules at all. As Marc Caputo at Politico put it, Trump “torpedoed” the debates. Even Chris Wallace called Trump out for interrupting Joe Biden nearly every time Biden had his turn to talk. It even got to the point where Biden said, “Shut up, man!” to just stop with the incessant interruptions from Trump.
What I learned about Trump in the debate is that even when his campaign and Biden’s campaign worked out a set of rules for the debate, is that he thinks the rules don’t apply to him. He thinks that because he’s president, he can do whatever the hell he wants. Trump isn’t about “law and order”, and his debating style proves it. Trump is about getting away with whatever he can and scoring points with his base for every infraction.
Reflecting back on Trump’s behavior in the debates reminded me of every witness he denied for a committee hearing in Congress. Trump’s debating style reminded me of every subpoena that he’s fought. Trump's manners in debate remind me that he’s argumentative, combative, and antagonistic. But I know this is only an act. How do I know?
Not too long ago, a video of Trump in a deposition was released. Mother Jones got their hands on it and found some nuggets to show to us. And what I saw in that video was a man who was not the president, for the deposition was taken in 2015. I saw a man who was more or less polite in the company of lawyers because he knew that if he said the wrong thing, that might cost him money, money, and more money.
Therein, I saw Trump, the impetuous, inconvenienced teenager. I saw a man who was more polite than I had ever seen him in a debate. He was still antagonistic then, but the fear of losing corralled his behavior in a way that Chris Wallace could not.
So I’ll be voting for Joe Biden, and not because I like him. I will vote for Joe Biden simply because if I had to choose between the two, I would like to have a president who stayed on point and honored the rules in a simple debate and stuck to the policy discussion at hand.
In his article, Caputo took note that Trump had been attacking the legitimacy of the Commission On the Presidential Debates for years. I think it’s fine that Trump questions the legitimacy of the CPD. But he’s doing it for all the wrong reasons. According to Deadline back in 2019, Trump could only call out the CPD for their perceived bias against the president. He said that the commission was full of Trump haters and Never-Trumpers.
If Trump is so unhappy with the CPD, it is a wonder that he is not using his bullhorn to say that every presidential candidate who makes it on the ballot in all 50 states should be on that stage with Trump and Joe Biden. Now that would be something to talk about. But I don’t hear THAT from the “anti-establishment, populist” President Trump.
That is the fraud of President Trump in a nutshell right there. “Oh, I love Trump! He wants to shake things up. He wants to tear things down!” If Trump were truly interested in change, he could open a Grand Canyon in the scope of debate by not only questioning the legitimacy of the CPD, he could invite every other candidate on the ballot to join him on stage. But that would destroy his narrative and those other candidates would steal the show from Trump.
So I’m not buying his bully act on the debate stage. Trump is an actor. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame to prove it. Sometimes I wonder if he ever breaks character. Somehow, I doubt he will until he has completely retired. If you believe Trump is fighting for you, good luck with that. Trump is not the agent of change that he says he is. Neither is Joe Biden, but at least he’s honest about that.