Debating Ourselves

Debating Ourselves


Leonard Zwelling

My email was active this morning, Wednesday, September 30, the night after the “Cacophony in Cleveland” known as the first Presidential Debate of 2020. Texts were coming in during the debate. People stopped watching it. They couldn’t stand it. Now the Debate Commission may be changing the rules for future debates, if there are any. Short of a candidate mute button, no rules will work. Mr. Trump will not be hemmed in by rules here any more than he is anywhere else. Of course, his corona diagnosis may change everything.

Rather than do a post-mortem on a zombie, which was what that debate was, let us just say that the following is probably true.

First, Chris Wallace did a miserable job running the debate. Either the candidates obey the rules to which their campaigns have agreed, or stop the debate until they calm down. Having two children slinging yogurt over the cafeteria table at one another is not clarifying to those among the voting public trying to make up their minds. Wallace gets an F, although I am not sure anyone short of Trump’s father could have controlled him.

Second, Trump was Trump as he always is. He does what he believes at the moment will be good for him and does not have the least bit of empathy for the other guy, gal or dog.

Third, Biden got off to a rocky start, but collected himself sufficiently to put two sentences together although putting three together might have been a stretch.

Fourth, no Trump voters were shaken by the president’s performance yesterday (see Bret Stephens’ piece from the NY Times of September 29, above). The secret Trump voters (and I believe they number in the millions) are those who will vote for him, but never admit it—even to a pollster—especially to a pollster. That’s why I don’t believe the polls. On the economy, the judges, the US position on China and the change in the direction of our policy in the Middle East, Trump gets high grades and many votes, albeit many are secret.

Fifth, Biden voters like me—the reluctant ones—were not made to feel any better by Joe’s performance other than the fact that he didn’t need a bathroom break. He couldn’t really handle Trump and Chris Wallace would not run the debate, so here we are.

The morning after leaves us with more questions than answers, but whatever your position on what happened last night, it tells you more about you than about the candidates. Most thinking Americans are debating with themselves because they will have to pick from two awful choices. One is an egomaniacal narcissist who handled the corona crisis poorly, but up until then was making stockholders money. The other is a tired older Democratic stalwart who worries people that he might be susceptible to the Bernie wing of the party. That certainly worries me.

It’s a really tough choice. Any thinker will indeed be debating with him- or herself. And coming to the conclusion that the Democratic primary needs a do-over. I blame Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee for not letting the primaries play out all the way to the end. Biden’s performance in Iowa and New Hampshire did not earn him a pass all the way to the nomination just because he got the Black vote and Jim Clyburn’s endorsement in South Carolina. That was foolish and once again the DNC is picking the winner as they did in 2016 and all they may be doing is picking the eventual loser in November. That being said, the Democratic choices were lackluster anyway although I still think Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker was a winning combination.

The Democratic Party is being hijacked by the left and the Republicans have been hijacked by Trump. Talk among yourselves. All is not well, including Mr. and Mrs. Trump.

What next?

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