For many, last night’s presidential debate was a mess. President Trump didn’t stop knifing Joe Biden. Joe Biden, frustrated to the nth degree, told the president to shut up. A few things were obvious. Unlike in 2016, Trump was prepared for the debate. He had his attack lines rehearsed. For lack of a better term, it seemed as if Trump was just winging it in 2016, but he did so very well. Well enough to win. He appeared to have his record of accomplishment and the lack thereof regarding Joe Biden in mind. Was he too aggressive? I don’t know. He needed to be, but there were times where it seemed Biden was going to have an ‘applesauce mind’ moment but was saved by moderator Chris Wallace. Also, the two peddling lies about Trump certainly factored into the cutthroat persona. In the next debate, which will have mechanisms to avoid last night’s chaos, Trump needs to be aggressive still, but maybe allow Biden to fall into the pit, get entangled, and have him ramble. Let him hang himself on policy. If he brings up the white nationalist smear, have at it—but on policy, especially the economy, let him fall off the cliff. You have two minutes to respond, Mr. President. We all know you can slice and dice Joe’s record in less time.
Yet, while everyone focuses on Donald Trump’s performance, Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel noted that Biden might have been the cooler cucumber but might have hurt himself with the progressive base.
1) There are two ways to think of debates.— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) September 30, 2020
a) Did you excite/enthuse base? On this, Trump wins. He was consistent, and made the points that he is running on in this election--law/order; economy; D corruption in terms of FBI investigation/Hunter; handling of virus. #Debates2020
2) Biden didn't help himself with base. Performance was OK, but he was forced several times to distance himself from policies that are baseline progressive demands--Medicare for All, defund police, Green New Deal. Never forget the D party is seriously divided. #Debates2020— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) September 30, 2020
3)Then b) Did u persuade anyone not already decided? WSJ recent polls suggests there weren't many persuadable watching this debate. Most have made up minds. Still, on that front, legitimate question if Trump steamroller style won him points with, say, suburban women. #Debate2020— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) September 30, 2020
4) But also legitimate question if Biden's mealy answers on city violence, or China/jobs, or Hunter/ethics won him points with average independents.— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) September 30, 2020
Overall, debate was too messy to call a winner. But in such a tight race, different calculations come to bear. #Debate2020
Strassel wrote that Biden did okay last night, but “he was forced several times to distance himself from policies that are baseline progressive demands--Medicare for All, defund police, Green New Deal.” And all of this while Biden’s campaign website says that Joe is for the Green New Deal. The Medicare for All issue might be one of the most divisive among the Left, as they want it now. The Left wants this revolutionary overhaul now and doesn’t trust Biden to accomplish nor should they. Even Bernie Sanders couldn’t honestly give Biden a full-throated endorsement on this during his address at the Democratic National Convention.
The ‘it’s better than nothing’ route often doesn’t satisfy a voter looking for left-wing revolution on this issue. Better sit it out and wait until next cycle, right?
We’ll see how these two do in the next debate, but if we’re going by animating the base—Trump clinched that. Regarding everything else, well, that’s up to you, folks. Either way, we all seem to agree that no candidate moved the needle on undecideds if there are any out there. Like in 2016, I have a feeling many made up their mind about who to vote for eons ago. This stuff will probably slide under the radar, but next time, let Biden speak. Let it bubble up to the surface because if Biden is heard loud and clear on not really embracing the Ocasio-Cortez agenda. Well, those folks might just sit this one out—maybe.