If you watched this week's presidential debate between Republican President Donald J. Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, you might have felt as though you were watching a mixed martial arts match among three people, the third being Chris Wallace, the beleaguered Fox News anchor who tried to moderate. Throughout the 90 minutes, which felt more like 90 days to me, all three people ran over each other verbally; at times, I could not understand what anyone was saying.
The attacks were endless, and the answers were often not answers but pivots to another attack. My bet is that no one changed their mind on who they are going to vote for based on the debate.
As anticipated, Biden attacked Trump for his handling of COVID-19 and continually called the current economy Trump's economy, as if Trump -- and not the pandemic -- had caused the decline.
For a bit of clarity, let's look back at Maria Godoy's March 13 NPR article, "Flattening a Pandemic's Curve: Why Staying Home Now Can Save Lives." "It's all part of an effort to do what epidemiologists call flattening the curve of the pandemic," wrote Godoy. "The idea is to increase social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus, so that you don't get a huge spike in the number of people getting sick all at once. If that were to happen, there wouldn't be enough hospital beds or mechanical ventilators for everyone who needs them, and the U.S. hospital system would be overwhelmed."
Godoy quoted Drew Harris, a population health researcher at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, about the goal of flattening the curve. "The system can adjust and accommodate all the people who are possibly going to get sick and possibly need hospital care," Harris said. It was not about stopping cases; it was about managing the supply of critical-care resources.
When the number of COVID cases began growing in late February and early March, there were shortages of personal protective equipment for people working in hospitals and health facilities. Because of this shortage, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci publicly said that Americans who are not health care providers didn't need to wear masks.
Asked in July about having told the public to not wear masks early in the pandemic, Fauci told CBS "Evening News" anchor and "60 Minutes" correspondent Norah O'Donnell: "I don't regret anything I said then because, in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm's way every day to take care of sick people."
Once the availability of PPE rose, the general public was encouraged to wear masks. The shutdown worked, and the spread slowed. But, while we've been sheltering in place, millions of people have become unemployed and filed for unemployment, and billions of dollars have been given out in federal bailouts.
The return to prosperity is underway. "Private employers hired at a faster-than-expected pace in September" Fox News reported this week, citing the ADP National Employment Report. "The report showed that companies created 749,000 new jobs last month, topping the 650,000-job increase that economists surveyed by Refinitiv had expected." Yes, the economy is coming back, but we still have a long way to go. The question for the voter is whether Biden or Trump would better lead on the economy. My vote is for Trump.
Another topic that garnered airtime was the violence occurring in some cities -- the rioting and looting, not the peaceful protesting. Trump burnished his credentials of law and order, referring to law enforcement organizations backing him. Biden, when challenged by Trump about the leftward leanings of his party, said that he (Biden) was the Democratic Party. It will be interesting to see if Sen. Kamala Harris, his vice presidential running mate, who recently referred to the "Harris-Biden ticket," agrees that he is the Democratic Party.
The takeaway from the debate? Next time, I might just be better off watching a real MMA fight instead.