As Eddie Pepitone has said previously about Trump, “We’ve been fucked before. But not like this. This is not subtle.” When the president concludes by asking right wing paramilitaries to disrupt voting and intimidate voters, it makes everything else seem trivial. Anyway, here goes nothing:
- The context for the debate is that it’s like a basketball game where you’re down by eight points with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. You can still win, but you can’t trade baskets–or turnovers. That’s what Trump did last night. He needed to close the gap, and I don’t think he did that.
- Trump’s being an asshole–his natural state of being–stepped all over some of the points he was trying to make. He did have some decent criticisms of Biden’s record (see below), but he stomped all over them by being an asshole.
- Related to the previous point, Trump’s laziness also hurt him. His “take out the cows” line was clearly a zinger that he utterly mangled. He did that several times last night.
- Laziness part II: his line about insulin prices better appear in an attack ad.
- Remember, last night was the Fox News debate. It doesn’t get more friendly for Trump, and moderators will be on their guard against his dominance displays.
- The problem with criticizing Biden is that the economy is collapsing and the pandemic is raging. Three-and-a-half years in, blaming the other guy for your mistakes isn’t a strong move. He’s not running in an open campaign, he’s trying to defend what is largely indefensible.
- Biden wasn’t particularly strong. His campaign still doesn’t have a clear answer about trade policy (and given Biden’s support for NAFTA might never get one…). But that was overshadowed by Trump’s assholery.
- Speaking of which, I know two (yes, small sample size) ‘anti-anti-Trump curious’ voters who were very pleased when Biden told him to shut up (they also were not happy with the Proud Boys luv either). About fifty percent of the country, if not more, has been waiting for over three years for someone to say that to Trump. Don’t underestimate how much that helps Biden.
- Lost in all of this was policy. Last night was the first time since 2008 global warming was mentioned.
- I think Biden should give Trump one more chance–and make it clear Biden is giving him the chance–to debate. If he walks away now, Trump claims victory.
Like I said, the headline should be, though it won’t because our political press corps is incapable of dealing with this moment, that the president called on his supporters to disrupt voting.
What a low moment for the Republic–and that was due to one person on the stage last night.