Third and final Trump-Biden debate steered the race back to its proper course
“Why didn’t you get it done, Joe?” This question -- posed by President Donald Trump, of course -- was the reoccurring theme in Thursday night’s final presidential debate. In a much better and more controlled performance, Trump cut to the heart of the matter on a number of important issues, putting Democrat challenger Joe Biden constantly on defense about his pie-in-the-sky plans and “experience” as a charter member of the swamp. Biden’s been in Washington forever. If he has all these proposals, why the heck did he wait all these years to get them done? It seems like a hundred years ago that the two met in Cleveland last month (September 29) for what was billed as the first of three presidential debates in the 2020 cycle. Remember? To the delight of no one -- except maybe his critics -- Trump was aggressive, interrupted Biden numerous times and friends and voters alike were taken aback by his anger-fueled performance. Now it almost feels as though the first debate was from a previous lifetime. Looking at snippets of video from the forum reminded me of footage from a campaign long ago. It is remarkable to think about how many fascinating things have transpired since the first and only other face-to-face meeting between the two. A small sampling of events: --Trump tested positive for COVID-19 two days after the debate; --To the great disappointment of liberals and his enemies, he recovered with relative ease and even took a doctor approved SUV ride to waive to supporters; --Vice president candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris traded jabs in Utah during their scheduled forum. Pence won handily; --The town hall presidential debate was cancelled due to purported “health reasons”, even though Trump was fully cleared to resume his normal schedule and used the time to conduct a number of huge rallies drawing well over a hundred thousand screaming backers; --Two or more members of Harris’s staff tested positive for the Chinese virus and she was taken off the campaign trail “as a precaution”; --Second debate would-be moderator Steve Scully was exposed as a biased slime bag and C-SPAN placed him on leave until after the election; --Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett appeared before the senate for several days’ worth of “questioning” by senators from both parties; she passed with flying colors and looks to be a shoe-in for confirmation. --Trump and Biden appeared in opposite town hall forums last Thursday evening; --Millions of Americans have early voted; and, last but not least, --Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop was released to the world, revealing extensive Biden family corruption and cover-ups by the media. Meanwhile, Joe Biden reacted angrily to simple queries and locked himself away for the past four days. And you thought 2016 was wild? That was child’s play by comparison. Every day has seemed like a year, yet the time still passed quickly. Last night’s calendar date added a sense of urgency to the debate (in Nashville, Tennessee, moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News) and gave it an overwhelming feeling of importance. Many saw the occasion as the last best chance for both candidates to present their cases in front of a massive tuned-in audience. Unlike the first iteration, Thursday night’s debate was significantly “calmer” and more substantive, at least on Trump’s part. There were the expected Biden jabs at the incumbent for his response to the coronavirus as well as the usual recriminations, accusations and veiled insults against anyone who dares battle the entrenched forces of the media and ruling class (hint: Trump represents the former and Joe Biden, the latter). Experts and pundits from both sides will now analyze every word and phrase for possible micro-meanings and impact on the race, but one couldn’t help but sense there weren’t a lot of changed minds based on Thursday night’s festivities. People who love Trump still see him as a champion of the forgotten Americans and were reassured, again, that he would keep fighting the good fight on their behalf. Similarly, those who hate Trump were also satiated, bolstered in their devotion to voting against him at any cost. Then there was poor Joe Biden, the mind-slipping dunce wearing the Democrats’ hopes on his cognitively failing brow. Can anyone picture Joe Biden as president? Thursday night didn’t clarify the image, that’s for sure. The frustrated pol smiled and smirked like running mate Harris did in Utah, and then gritted his teeth and pointed at Welker during other moments of tension. Say anything the old grouch doesn’t like and “good guy Joe” morphs into “Come on! let me lecture you” Joe. The program started off with Welker admonishing each candidate to allow the other to answer the questions she presented, which sounded like a schoolmarm telling her students to be nice to each other at least until recess. Not surprisingly, the “mute” button actually worked well in my opinion. Trump was on his best behavior during the evening and let Biden fumble and bumble his way into promising federal resources for everything! Joe was for opening the economy, but not without national standards for battling the coronavirus and mandating everyone wear a mask! He's also for Obamacare with a public option, which Biden labeled “Biden-care.” Sure, that’s bound to be popular, isn’t it? (Trump nailed him on it, correctly coining it socialized medicine). Overall I’d say Welker did a fair job. She did bring up the Hunter Biden email topic and pressed the Democrat candidate to clarify what the business dealings meant. She didn’t follow-up on Biden’s claim that he hasn’t made a cent from foreign governments. Really? Maybe the money was all paid to Hunter and the son laundered it for his dad! There were times where Welker might’ve muted herself. After the debate concluded, Fox News pointed out that she interrupted Trump many more times than she did Biden. It was true. And it was annoying. But the NBC News anchor did allow both candidates to speak on topics of their choosing. So, it was good. One thing that stood out. During the rather extensive back-and-forth over the economy and issues such as the minimum wage, Biden pontificated about people below the poverty line and it wouldn’t hurt businesses to raise the minimum wage now. How the heck would he know? Biden’s never had to make a payroll in his life. Faker! Faker! Trump said he would have states set their own minimum wage. A much better compromise solution. And, at long last, the topic of illegal immigration came up. Biden said, “Within a hundred days I’m going to send to Congress a plan for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers.” This was a clear pander to Hispanic voters, but it won’t work. If this is really how Democrats feel -- and you know it is -- then Biden lost the election right there. Trump might’ve said “I’m for Americans, not illegal aliens.” But at least the president got it on the record that the “cages” for children separated from their parents were actually built during Obama’s reign. Foreign Policy, where art thou? Going into Thursday night, President Trump and his campaign complained loudly about the topics Welker selected for the program. Both candidates were given the subjects in advance, but supposedly the moderator kept the actual questions to herself until showtime. So, everyone knew that Trump and Biden would be queried on Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership. It doesn’t take a genius to discern what a major media representative would hope to gain from asking about “Fighting COVID-19”, or “Race in America” or “Climate Change.” All of these easily fit into a tight little box of general knowledge. (To Biden) Do you believe the Trump administration response to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus was appropriate under the circumstances? Did he take it seriously? Did he learn how awful it is to have to go through it? What would you have done better? Did he act as a super spreader because he didn’t wear a mask and caught the virus? Or, “Race in America.” Will you (Trump) disavow white supremacist groups? If you’re so against illegal immigration, knowing that it’s mostly an issue that involves Hispanics, isn’t this racism too? How are you (Trump) going to counteract the general belief that racism is a problem in police forces? Is that why they’ve endorsed you? Charlottesville… Ferguson… George Floyd… Breonna Taylor… QAnon… peaceful protests. Why is racism still such a problem? And “Climate Change.” (To Biden) This year we’ve had the largest number of devastating hurricanes in many, many, years. Add to that the raging wildfires out west. The scientific community says the matter is settled and that climate change will turn the earth into a great big ball o’ fire within x number of years if something isn’t done about it now. What would you say to climate deniers like Mr. Trump to get them to save themselves and us in the process? Even if these examples weren’t the exact words coming out of Welker’s mouth on Thursday evening, the gist was the same. All of these topics imply answers that can’t be proved one way or the other and play to the fears of scared people across the country, the vast majority of whom wouldn’t know or care that the elites are fixating on this extraneous politically correct nonsense when the folks at home are worried about paying the mortgage and their kids’ educations. And getting government out of their way. But what about foreign policy? The topic did come up several times. Welker asked both candidates about North Korea and China and Russia. Trump raised it numerous ways as well, pointing out the Biden family’s corruption on plenty of occasions. Biden couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer to a lot of it, simply shaking his head and saying “It’s not true.” Whatever, Joe. For Trump, there’s a lot more to the foreign policy topic than just jabbing at Grampa Joe over his corruption and failure to get ahold of son Hunter’s intense thirst for enriching himself with his last name and hobnobbing with antagonistic foreign interests who despise the U.S. His administration in particular has an incredible foreign policy record that could’ve filled two debates’ worth of airtime if only the president were given a chance to do a little bragging about what he’s done and why he did it. Did Trump, as a candidate in 2016, vow to keep the country out of expensive and long-term foreign conflicts? Did his domestic energy policy produce highly visible results in the Middle East and Russia? Since America is no longer dependent on foreign sources, how has it influenced relations with Israel, the Arab countries and Iran? Not to mention Trump’s sanctions have pushed the Iranian regime to the brink. As relations with China continue to deteriorate, do we need someone who’s viewed as a strong leader to stand up to the communists, or a guy who allowed his son to make billion dollar deals with them? Why did Obama deserve a Nobel Peace Prize but Trump, with real agreements in hand, doesn’t? Last but not least, the election itself I can’t say for sure, but one of Joe Biden’s final thoughts on Thursday evening must have been, “Thank God I don’t have to do this again.” The 77-year-old lifelong Democrat pol had done it -- he’d campaigned for and won his party’s nomination on his third try. He’d successfully consolidated the liberal establishment’s backing behind him and gained the upper hand despite the aggressive and open opposition of the socialists. And in two debates he’d managed to sidestep every question that has meaning to about half the country’s voters. Biden gambled that the country wouldn’t care that much about son Hunter’s laptop and the impression that “the big guy” (Joe) was in on the scam every step of the way. Joe also wagered that he wouldn’t have to say much about what direction he would try to steer the Supreme Court or if he was gung-ho for changing the filibuster rules in the senate body that he haunted for over three and a half decades. Strangely enough, the topic of court packing and the filibuster wasn’t raised by Welker, but she did ask quite a few questions on COVID-19 and racism. Biden’s always been a blowhard full of bluster and hyperbole. Through it all, he’s managed to maintain an “every man” persona and provide the impression that he n’ Barack Obama were just two hip shades-wearing dudes who were more movie-set material than stuffy and boring Washington DC political hacks. To him, he’s an outsider who just happened to be inside the system for all this time, right? The Democrat managed to get through Thursday night’s forum without saying anything that was truly damaging. So did Trump, for his part. The media will spin this and that and most likely give the “win” to Biden because if they didn’t, then it might cause voters to at least reconsider Trump. And polls already show Trump gaining on the challenger with a week and a half to go.
I personally felt that Trump “won” the debate, simply because he was, for a lack of a better way to put it, more “muted” than in the first go ‘round. Allowing Grampa Joe to bluster and make faces and wave his hand in the air and pretend to be ticked off about the coronavirus -- all of it just reaffirmed that this election is a choice between old fashioned flag waving patriotism and constitutional liberty versus the Kens and Karens of the world hiding behind the person of Joe Biden. More federal money for all! Here, have a handful!
Elections matter. And they do have consequences. We can only hope there are enough people out there who remember the images of miscreants pulling down statues and Democrat politicians pontificating about mask wearing and “patriotic duty to do what we tell you to do.”
Did Thursday night change the calculus? Probably not much. But the clock is ticking and Americans know as much about these candidates as any electorate, ever. Trump deserves the chance to Make America Great Again, or Keep America Great. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be a disaster for the country. There’s really no way to sugarcoat it.
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