Trump’s Awful Debate Performance

I was expecting bad, not dreadful.

Peter Ramirez

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“What a dark event we have just witnessed,” Brian Williams said, as he greeted the post-debate audience with disbelief. “If that isn’t a mess, it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here.”

The debate was bad, and somehow got worse as the night went along.

Everything was just uneasy tonight. Even the sparsely populated arena, which reminded me of Trump’s inauguration, seemed off.

What exactly was the singular low point for Trump? It’s hard to tell, there were so many. Was it when Trump had to be dragged — kicking and screaming — to denounce white supremacy?

Trump’s near-constant interruptions throughout the night grew tiresome. He would be instructed not to interrupt when others were speaking, then had to be reminded five seconds later like a disobedient child. When Trump asked Chris Wallace, the debate’s moderator, to also remind Joe Biden not to interrupt Trump, Wallace responded, “Well frankly you’ve been (interrupting) more, sir.”

The interruptions were so persistent that they had to be part of Trump’s game plan going into the debate. Maybe to exploit Biden’s stuttering problem? I’m not sure. It didn’t work.

Early in the night, perhaps if one squints hard enough, Trump seemed to have a plan. He hammered an economic message, acknowledged that the virus hit hard, but that he is the right man to build the economy back. If he did it once, he could do it twice. And when going on offense, he tried to push Biden to the left and lump him in with Comrade Sanders.

I’m no Trump fan, but if I were consulting him, that is the winning messaging.

But like all good things with Trump, they don’t stay good for long. Trump quickly abandoned this plan and instead opted to interrupt Biden with bizarre rants. The president once interrupted Biden with an insane aside about how Biden could not use the word “smart” in any sentence, and then talked about Biden’s grades in college. (This would have been a perfect time for Biden to snap back, “At least I didn’t pay for someone to take my SATs.”)

I was struck with how often Trump was on defense, normally not a position he finds himself in. Then again, when you only get…

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Peter Ramirez

political science researcher. former valedictorian. reader/writer. host of “Politics Mostly” podcast.