Anyone appalled by Donald Trump‘s relentless interruptions and refusal to follow debate rules in last night’s first presidential debate is both right and obviously hasn’t paid much attention to the president, like ever. This is his usual shtick, and you have to assume that Biden’s team was ready for it.
What I saw last night was a bully and a weakling unable to fight back. Biden had several prepackaged zingers at the ready but the one he chose to unleash towards the end, a clumsy — hey, this is Joe Biden, man – defense of his deceased son Beau Biden appeared out of thin air, not after Trump said anything about it or him, and then itself got derailed by Trump talking about Hunter.
Ugliness all around.
Yesterday in the space I wondered who would show up on the Democratic side, rabid Biden or sleepy Joe? The man on the right side of the stage with somewhere in between but closer to somnolence than anything else. It did have the effect of showcasing Trump’s rudeness. But I don’t think it gave Democratic voters cause for confidence.
If last night encapsulates the decision faced by the electorate on November 3, they have to choose between a madman who coddles white nationalists— blink and you would miss his call out to the Proud Boys —and a befuddled corporatist who isn’t up to any job, much less leader of the free world. On its face, the choice may feel obvious. What is less obvious, and I think more important, is that it’s hard to get people off their couch to do anything on election day, especially when it is a grim duty like trying to cast a vote for Joe Biden.
If the typical American voter had a gun to his or her head and had to choose, Biden wins. But that’s not how voting works. It’s voluntary. The problem for Biden is enthusiasm, and last night shows why.