First presidential debate analysis: an insult to America

The American people are the real losers of the first presidential debate.


Source: The Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump and Joe Biden take the stage in the first presidential debate.

For the few undecided voters left at this point in the election, I am sorry.

If you tuned into what was supposed to be the most important debate in United States’ history to find a candidate who would provide you with clear, concise, and intelligent answers to the many issues tormenting our country, you received the exact opposite. Whether you are all in for Trump or all in for Biden, I think most Americans can agree that what we saw from both candidates was extremely disappointing.

Now I am not going to pretend like I was expecting a debate of the same caliber as Kennedy v. Nixon in 1960 (modern politics are just not what they used to be), but I sure was expecting more than what we were given. Spanning somewhere near 90 minutes long, the debate (if it should even be called that) quickly turned into a complete disaster.

Chris Wallace
Source: Entertainment Tonight

The moderator was Fox News’ Chris Wallace, both skilled and experienced in debate moderation, who I think most Americans felt sorry for after just 15 minutes. The topics that Wallace chose were the following: the records of both candidates, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election.

I think it would be reasonable to claim that these are great topics, which most Americans probably care about deeply, so it was a shame that both candidates rarely gave a solid answer to any of Wallace’s questions. Instead, both men spent the 90 minutes interrupting each other, deflecting their own weaknesses and flaws on the other, and firing personal and unnecessary attacks to make the other look bad.

I think its goes without saying that the bars for each candidate were not set very high. Most Americans were probably not expecting a five-star debate performance from either candidate, but certainly nothing as down-right awful as what was given to us.

The debate turned out to not only only be an insult to every American, but also an embarrassment to the United States around the world. A recent NPR article by Matthew Schwartz breaks down the reactions from people all over the world to the first presidential debate.

The Guardian in the U.K. described the debate as a “national humiliation.” A major news anchor in Israel gave his condolences to America, also stating that, “It is harder to stoop lower than this.” There were even reactions from Chinese citizens, with one asking, “Is this American-style civilization?”

My best analogy for this debate would be two little kids who are fighting over a toy, with the helpless parent unsuccessfully attempting to step in and break it up. The debate turned out to be such a poor look for America on the global stage, especially since one candidate is the current President, and the other candidate is the former Vice President.

The clearest examples of the poor debate etiquettes of Trump and Biden were the unnecessary attacks directed toward the other candidate. From Joe Biden labeling Donald Trump a “racist” and a “clown” and calling Trump “the worst president America’s ever had,” to Trump bringing up Biden’s son’s past drug addiction and telling Biden, “there’s nothing smart about you Joe,” the candidates’ attacks reached new lows as they dodged the moderator’s questions and leveled insult after insult at one another.

Trump and Biden on the debate stage.
Source: The New York Times

As I stated above, these are two men who hold/have held the highest and second highest office(s) in the land, so for them to be acting like this, not only in front of the nation but also the world, is completely unacceptable. Additionally, for someone to claim that either candidate “won” the debate is completely irresponsible, because neither Trump nor Biden proved themselves to be the better candidate during the debate.

I interviewed Colerain Township Trustee Matt Wahlert about what his thoughts were on the debate.  When speaking about the frequent interruptions, Wahlert said, “I think it was a debate strategy by Trump to interrupt Biden as much as possible.” He explained to me how he thought that both candidates unintentionally stopped each other from making mistakes and gaffes by frequently interrupting one another.

Although neither candidate outperformed the other, each did have some good moments during the debate. Talking about each candidate’s positives, Wahlert told me, “Biden actually looked to the camera and talked to the American people instead of speaking to the debate moderator or the other candidate. I think that’s just a more effective rhetorical tool when you aim straight to the American people.” He also told me that he thinks Biden came off more dignified, since he was interrupting less.

“For Trump, I think the distinction he drew with Biden wanting to close the country down or wanting to mask up and maybe have a total closedown and the impact it would have on the economy was good, because I think that there are a lot of voters that are COVID-fatigued and hurting economically. He said that another positive that he thought Trump had, was his ability to give specific details/data on certain topics.

Wahlert also explained how he wished that the topic of “jobs” was more focused on throughout the debate.

Look, whatever organization that you get your news from is most likely going to have some sort of bias towards one candidate’s debate performance over the other. If you turn on CNN or MSNBC, you are going to hear that Biden is the clear winner and that he completely outperformed Trump. If you turn on Fox News, you are going to hear that Trump is the clear winner and that he completely outperformed Biden.

However, is it possible to make the argument that either candidate gave such a great debate performance that they clearly won? If you made a list of five things that Biden did better than Trump, you could make another list of five more things that Trump did better than Biden.

I also want to add that this article is in no way written against either candidate specifically. It is meant to point out the unacceptable ways that both candidates, two men who are running to hold the office of leader of the free world, behaved in front of the entire planet.

The bottom line is this: we are now less than a month away from the election, so it is time for both candidates to start acting like it. The last thing that we need is the two main presidential candidates embarrassing the United States in front of entire world. It is time for Trump and Biden to stop interrupting each other every second, to stop the unnecessary and personal attacks against one another, and to stop dodging questions that they are asked.

We are down to the final weeks, so I am pleading with President Trump and Vice President Biden to use the last two debates to lay out their plans and ideas for the American people, while engaging in a civil debate that is free from all of the nonsense that the first debate was comprised of.