First Debate: ‘Let Biden Be Trump’

September 30, 2020 Updated: October 3, 2020

Commentary

If you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, you must have missed last night’s 90-minute presidential debate.

No-Plan Biden Claims Trump Has No Plan

For years now, Republicans have correctly said Democrats have no plan other than getting rid of Trump, and no policy prescriptions other than Trump is evil and must go. Democrats have done nothing but obstruct for the past four years—the failed Russia hoax, the failed and corrupt Mueller investigation, and the failed attempt to impeach the president.

Despite these relentless, never-ending attacks, amounting to a failed coup, the pandemic, and Floyd riots, Trump slashed taxes, slashed regulations, replaced horrendous trade deals with great ones, bringing historic lows in unemployment—including black unemployment, and bringing back manufacturing jobs Obama said would never return—and achieved a historic peace deal in the Middle East, which John Kerry insisted could never happen.

Yet, at the debates, the former vice-president, running on a non-platform of no policy prescriptions other than Trump-hatred, scored points claiming Trump had “no plan” to replace Obamacare, which—though driving health-care costs through the roof and failing miserably—Biden claimed must be protected at all costs.

Biden, likewise, argued that Trump had no plan to deal with the coronavirus despite advancing none himself, other than previously claiming Trump was racist and xenophobic for having early on saved thousands of lives by imposing a travel ban on China and later hot spots in Europe.

Running on the Promise He Will Restore Civility to the Oval Office and Act ‘Presidential,’ Biden Calls Trump a ‘Clown’ and Tells Him to ‘Shut Up’

Though the only discernible element of his platform is that Trump is a nasty, hateful man, that we need to restore civility and decorum to the Oval Office, and vote in a president who will act “presidential,” Biden called the sitting president a “clown” and said, “will you shut up man.”

Trump conversely, though he interrupted Biden frequently, was uncharacteristically soft on his opponent. In 2016, when Hillary Clinton said it was a good thing Trump was not in charge, Trump famously retorted, “because you’d be in jail”—destroying his opponent.

Where was that Trump? It’s not like he didn’t have “plenty of subject matter there,” as he famously quipped in 2016, referring to Rand Paul’s looks: Biden is on tape, bragging about having threatened to refuse to give Ukrainian officials a billion dollars in U.S. aid unless they fired a prosecutor who was allegedly investigating a Ukrainian energy company from which his son, Hunter, was receiving a massive salary as a board member while having no expertise in the field. That prosecutor was fired and Joe Biden cleared the aid to Ukraine. Any objective person would agree Hunter had one thing to sell—influence with his father, then as vice president, in charge of U.S.–Ukraine relations.

Trump did bring up the most recent Hunter scandal—allegedly receiving $3.5 million from the wife of Moscow’s mayor—and briefly alluded to yesterday’s startling revelation (pdf) that Obama was briefed that intelligence sources revealed that Hillary Clinton had allegedly hatched the plot to accuse Trump of having colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election—but was not nearly as blunt and accusatory as the “old Trump” would have been.

The “old Trump” would have said, “Joe you should be in jail, you are on tape bragging about having bribed Ukraine. So should your son.” Instead, Trump attempted to be “civil”—ironically the very thing Biden was most definitely not, yet claims he is and Trump can never be.

Filling RGB’s Seat With Barrett

Early on, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the moderator, asked about Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s recent death, given Biden’s insistence the nomination of RGB’s successor await the election.

The old Trump would have tackled the issue head on, pointing out the inherent contradiction in Biden claiming we must continue RGB’s legacy of protecting constitutional rights by violating the Constitution and not nominating a replacement as the Constitution says a president “shall” do.

Instead, Trump channeled his inner Obama, noting that “elections have consequences,” missing the opportunity to expose Biden’s rank hypocrisy.

Trump also allowed Biden to “pivot”—a signature Trump move. Biden spent nearly his entire 2 minutes on the Supreme Court segment arguing we must protect Obamacare, an apparent reference to a pending case to overturn Obamacare. Instead of pointing out the obvious—that no one knows what Judge Barrett would rule in that case, and that, in any event, that has nothing to do with the issue of when and how the vacancy should be filled—Trump sanctioned the pivot, responding with his own criticism of Obamacare.

This took the debate off the Supreme Court point, and then, when Biden dodged Wallace’s question about the Democrats’ threat to “pack the court,” overtly refusing to answer, Wallace, displaying an obvious bias, did not press Biden. Nor did Trump.

Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Wallace Talks Over Trump, and Refuses to Accept His Answer

Wallace challenged Trump to condemn the white supremacists and militia groups and to say they “need to stand down” and not add to the violence. But Wallace was talking—and interrupting—more than the candidates were, so when Trump directly answered, “Sure, I’m willing to do that,” meaning yes he does condemn white supremacists, much of the audience did not hear Trump’s answer.

Confused by Wallace’s insistence (in stark contrast to his letting Biden off the hook on packing the court) that Trump “do it, sir,” Trump then goes on to ask Wallace what group he would like him to condemn. Biden offers the Proud Boys, which Trump responded to by saying, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

The liberal media responded instantly with fake news articles that Trump was unwilling to condemn the Proud Boys, when that is precisely what he did.

COVID-19: Trump Allows Biden to Obscure Trump’s Early Response; Biden Stands on the Graves of the Fallen

Though Biden has no plan for COVID-19, and attacked Trump as racist and xenophobic for his ban on travel from China, still he managed to score some points here, simply evoking sympathy for the fallen.

Trump missed an opportunity: He could have pointed out that Biden was forced to agree with Trump in April when Biden reluctantly said he favored Trump’s travel ban. So Trump was ahead of Biden all the way on the virus, having saved thousands of lives that would have been lost had Biden been in charge, and Biden now favors again shutting down the country, which Americans don’t want.

Trump did manage to get in one decent zinger. When Biden said “a lot more [people] are gonna die unless [Trump] gets smarter,” Trump shot back that Biden forgot the name of his college, and was at the bottom of the class: “Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me. There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”

Where was the mention of Biden’s obvious dementia? The whole world—literally—is talking about that, including many Democrats. The “old Trump” would have quipped, “Joe, you were dumb before the Alzheimer’s set in. Don’t you dare tell me I should get smarter.”

On the related issue of re-opening America and restoring our economy, Biden scored points, claiming credit for having inherited the economy at the outset of the Great Recession in late 2008, and having restored it. Trump did not effectively parry that thrust with the obvious retort—that Biden presided over the most drawn-out and anemic economic recovery in U.S. history—and that Biden is the last person we want now dealing with the restarting of the economy post-COVID.

Riots and Law Enforcement

Although Trump won this segment, he missed the opportunity to truly bury Biden for attacking cops and for his campaign staffers donating to a bail “reform” group working to release rioters and looters. Biden hurt himself more than Trump hurt Biden, idiotically saying “Antifa is an idea not an organization …”

Trump should have mentioned the radical views on the riots espoused by Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, but failed to, and that a vote for Biden would really put Harris, who was polling at about 5 percent before dropping out, in charge.

My Scorecard

As between the candidates, the debate was a draw. But Wallace inserted himself as a principal in the debates. He spoke way too much, interrupted the candidates more than they interrupted themselves, and showed his obvious bias against Trump.

It seems Trump’s debate-prep team managed to convince Trump not to be Trump. This was an odd strategy, given Trump’s former campaign managers, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, co-authored a best-seller following Trump’s historic success in 2016, titled, “Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency.”

On the other hand, it seems Biden’s team adopted Trump’s 2016 playbook, adapting it to read: “Let Biden be Trump.”

Stephen B. Meister is a lawyer and an opinion writer. Twitter @StephenMeister. Opinions expressed here are his own, not his firm’s.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.