It’s been 24 hours since the most ridiculous event in the history of an American presidential election occurred. As CNN’s Jake Tapper so accurately described it, the first presidential debate of the 2020 election was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck. He’s not wrong.
The president behaved like the worst child you’ve ever seen in some movie about brats from hell that some angelic nanny manages to straighten out. Except there is no straightening out this fool. He fought, interrupted, talked over, insulted, and otherwise behaved like the insane narcissist racist that he is. Chris Wallace, a seasoned journalist who does not shy away from a tough interview, could not reign his saggy behind in.
Trump’s behavior was not surprising, yet it was completely disappointing. There were many of us foolishly thinking that he, as an incumbent president, might handle himself with the dignity and decorum such an event calls for. That he failed so miserably at that wasn’t a shock. But it was disgusting, nonetheless.
Much of America likely tuned in to see if Joe Biden was going to rise out of the ether and hand the dope a can of whoop-ass. Alas, it was a bit more convoluted than that. As I read posts and watched Tik Toks revealing the reactions of many viewers (American and overseas), there seemed to be much disappointment that Biden didn’t give Trump a dose of his own medicine. Why didn’t he interrupt more? Why didn’t he go at Trump as hard as he was going at him? Why didn’t he bring up this, and that, and the other? A missed opportunity was the consensus of how many viewed Biden’s performance at this circus.
But I disagree. Joe Biden was far from being a docile saint. He spent a good amount of time smirking. A lot. And I felt that was giving Trumpets fodder for their takedown of him. At the same time, he tried to stick to the way these things are supposed to go—with respect for the event and moderator, and in seriousness for the issues he attempted to discuss. But if you are faced with a petulant Damian child from The Omen, only the Lord Himself could hold back from not flying across the stage and knocking Trump into next week. I suppose Biden’s closest attempt at that was to ask him to shut up. Was that a high road move? No. Was that understandable? 100%.
For what many perceive was Biden’s display of weakness, I venture that he showed a lot of strength and personal self-control. The only time I think he came close to throwing hands was when the president went after his dead son Beau and the military, and then tried to shame him for Hunter’s problems, specifically with drugs (Honestly, if you want to talk about coke abuse, let’s talk about Don, Jr., shall we?). At that moment, you could see the fire behind Biden’s eyes—so much so I prayed for a Dracarys moment where we could collectively utter that word and Biden would render Trump smoking kindling.
But he didn’t shy away from talking about his son’s drug problem. There were also instances where he talked to directly to America asking them to do the right thing–to vote and to think. And it had nothing to do with turning America toward the Biden/Harris ticket in blind fealty. Biden is far from perfect, and his debate performance was far from perfect. But in my opinion, what Biden did do was try to remind us of the greatness and dignity that America is capable of.
I do want the two remaining presidential debates to go on–there’s discussion of canceling them. But I want Biden to remain true to who he is. To have fought fire with fire would have only lowered him to Donald Trump’s level. That’s not the option non-Trumpers are looking for. We’ve had four years of an absolute turkey whose biggest claims to fame are found in all the horrible things he’s responsible for and that his base, whom he will never alienate in the face of doing the right, honest, and empathetic thing, hosts the worst of America—racists, misogynists, xenophobes—all masquerading as God’s emissaries upon the earth. No, thank you.
So, Biden, you do you. And we’ll vote.