We are not supposed to talk about this: The final debate

Fariba Lale – Columnist

Here we go again!

     Honestly, I am running out of clever ways to rephrase: “Two racist old men take a bunch of drugs and then get into an argument, and we all have to watch and take them seriously because this is a hostage situation, help, please help, the simulation is falling to pieces,” or whatever. We are gonna skip right past that and do this thing by the issues.

     First off, I want to talk about the candidates’ responses on the topic of COVID-19. As was the case in the first debate, I think this was one of Biden’s strongest areas. He came across as far more professional and far more caring than his opponent. 

     He was sensitive to the massive loss of life this country is facing right now, and his comments about how closely this affects all of our lives were, I think, very well done. Whether that will mean anything materially, should he take office, is a different issue, but it does make him look good. 

     On that note, though, it also looks really good for him that he is able to discuss the idea of further measures, whether that be shutdowns or other tactics, at all. Trump is fixated on opening back up, but he never says how we can actually achieve that safely. He conveniently glosses over that part. 

    If nothing else, I am sure it is at least a little comforting to hear, yes, this is dangerous, and we are aware of that, and we will take that into consideration moving forward.

    On the other hand, Trump’s performance on this topic was abysmal. I have to say, though, he did deliver one of my favorite lines of the evening here when he said, “I take full responsibility, but it’s not my fault.” The guy’s mind is amazing, words mean nothing and he saves you the trouble of pointing out contradictions in his thinking by doing it himself. 

     Our big beautiful President. And, in any case, at what point would it be “your fault,” Donald? Could such a thing even happen? It has been more than seven months, seems like the responsibility would shift at some point in that span of time? 

     It is equally goofy that he, again, brought up the Obama administration’s response to the swine flu outbreak, as if that situation was at all comparable and as if they would not be cleared of responsibility by the same logic with which he just cleared himself. 

     This is more than a deflection of blame, though. Trump’s responses on this topic conveyed little sympathy and were extremely dismissive towards the pain so many are feeling right now. More than 220,000 Americans are dead, and this man has the nerve to come out here and be like, no one panic! See how alive I am! See how easy it was for ME! As if that matters. As if that helps. 

     Two hundred twenty thousand Americans are dead, and he is patting himself on the back, telling us how lucky we are that number has not reached two million. To be clear, that was the projected figure should we do literally nothing to combat the spread of the virus. That was the absolute worst case scenario. It does not negate where we are right now. 

     Two hundred twenty thousand Americans are dead, and he goes on and on about how high the survival rates are, the implication being that too big a deal is being made of this. An increasingly meaningless point, as more and more information is discovered about this virus’ potential for long-term damage. He could pretend to take this seriously instead of joking about injecting bleach. The whole thing was a wildly disrespectful, shameful display.

    Speaking of the pandemic, what about this whole socialized healthcare nonsense?

     Let me just start by saying I have no idea what in God’s name Biden is talking about. Allegedly, he is proposing a “public option.” That is what he says, and that is what his website says. But what he actually lays out when he is asked to talk about it is, essentially, just ensuring access to Medicaid if you already qualify. 

     He stated this explicitly at this debate as well as the first one. It seems like either he is leaving some crucial bits out, or he is misrepresenting what his actual plan is by calling it something that it is not. 

     To be clear, his website actually does detail a public option, but I have a hard time taking that as reality when explanations from the man himself do not align with those terms at all. 

     Further, what was up with the framing of these questions? Trump keeps accusing Biden of wanting to socialize healthcare (he does not and will not), and it is nuts that Welker would repeat that line of questioning as if it is worthy of any real concern.

     Honestly, I do not even know what to say about Trump on this issue. All he said was that he would come up with “a brand new, beautiful health care” and then rambled about the Affordable Care Act for a while and how much people love private insurance, “We have done an incredible job with healthcare,” Biden’s a socialist, etc. Less than zero substance.

     I have kind of similar feelings about the candidates’ responses in terms of climate change.

     Again, I think that Biden did well to present himself as seriously considering this topic. I mean, okay, I do not know how serious that consideration really is. I do not think he goes far enough, and I think that 2050 is a very long time away, and we will all be on fire by then. 

      I think the fact that fracking was only brought up momentarily was also a benefit for him, not like the Vice Presidential debate where Harris was outright promising to not ban fracking. Ah, nevertheless!

     The one area where I agreed the smallest amount with anything Trump had to say was in the discussion of national security and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I will give him the teeniest, tiniest bit of credit. Mostly because I do not like the way Biden fearmongers about a small country on the other side of the world with few resources and without expansionist goals, and I thought his comparison of Kim Jong Un to Hitler was especially sloppy. 

     However, it is also important to keep in mind that Trump is posturing here as some kind of anti-war politician when he is no such thing, not by any stretch of the imagination. He does this kind of thing often, and, often, people believe it, which is very dangerous because this administration has done significant work to elevate America’s war machine capabilities. More drones, more bombs, more death and a big, beautiful defense budget that he loves to brag about. So, a grain of salt, I guess.

      Overall, I think that Biden won this debate. Even just in terms of how he presented himself, I think he appeared better than the first debate, which is still important as Trump has been trailing in the polls. 

     What this actually will mean in terms of policy, should Biden win, I am not sure, considering how halfhearted his positions are, even at a time when he is supposed to be lying to make himself look good. 

      But, either way, Trump spent the entire 90 minutes congratulating himself for his performance the last four years, and I just do not see how that could have been expected to land with all of the hardship people are currently facing under his leadership. 

Luther Abel – Columnist

      Congratulations to the few who managed to sit through the entirety of the final debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Why one would do so — because of masochistic proclivities or wry amusement — we shan’t discuss except, perhaps, with a licensed psychiatrist. 

     For those of you who found literally anything else more interesting, useful, etc., I’ll give a quick recap and then move on to what I think the debate does for the election going forward. In the end, I may even reveal who I think is going to win the election.

     About the first debate, I wrote how there were two halves, with Donald Trump keeping it together in the first part and Joe Biden looking wearied, while in the second portion Trump derailing and Joe Biden looking practically presidential. I concluded Joe probably had the better night, assuming those who watched the first part stayed through to the end.

     In this second and final debate, Joe never had the lead nor tried all that hard to take it. I think Trump won in energy, content (shocking, I know) and on points. 

     Whatever jibes Joe tossed Trump’s way, there was a quality rejoinder. An example of this was when Joe pivoted from discussing COVID to looking into the camera and effecting the deeper register of very serious seriousness while saying, “There’s a place across the dinner table where your spouse used to be, but now they’re dead because of Trump.” 

     This emotional play was batted away by Trump better than I thought him able. Politicians talking most earnestly about average Americans at their dinner tables is obnoxious and played out. Good on Trump for observing what was taking place and giving it the scorn it deserves. 

     The moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC, did a solid job. She was, as so many of her colleagues are, prone to giving Biden assists along the way, both by patiently waiting for him to spit out what he is trying to say and providing him with softer questions — for instance, the last question of the night was one that Biden has long had a pre-packaged answer for, taken directly from his former boss Barack Obama, about how all states are the United States, not Democrat or Republican. 

     This was particularly amusing midway through the debate when he said much the same thing before going into a fallacious diatribe about how red states are killing people with their COVID policies.

     Compared to the bloodbath Chris Wallace presided over, it was a much more pleasant viewing experience, though I would note that Welker did not have to deal with near the level of belligerence from either candidate that was so common in the first debate. 

     Ultimately, I think Trump won the debate. But does it matter? The polls certainly don’t think so with most swing-states polling outside the margin of error for Biden, and Trump losing the popularity polls by a large margin. 

     Let it be said that the popular vote doesn’t matter one iota, but people (Democrats) seem to get all bent out of shape about the popular vote, so I thought I’d mention it. 

      No, I don’t think Trump is going to win. Many millions of votes have already been cast, and I don’t see one debate making the difference. I’m not particularly perturbed by a Trump loss, as I think it speeds the Republican party’s move away from Trumpian economic and domestic policy. 

     The future is bright with Tim Scott, Nikki Haley and many other young and brilliant conservatives; what have I to fear from a soon-to-be octogenarian Delawarian who is unlikely to seek or win re-election in four years?  Should the GOP retain the Senate, it would be a quiet two to four years of little being done, and I quite like the sound of that. 

     Three textualist/originalist justices, progress with Israel’s status in the Middle-East and economic gains — which mean increases in quality of life for all peoples — are wins I can take from Trump’s four years. 

      Once installed in the White House, Biden will have to beat back the progressive radicals to his left, as Nancy Pelosi will in the House of Representatives. 

      The divisions that the Left could overlook in their hatred of Trump will become evident all too quickly, and I wonder just how odiferous such in-fighting will appear to the voting public in two and four years. 

     What I most fear is a Trump or Biden victory coupled with Democratic supermajorities in the House and Senate. I think that is the most toxic scenario and would strain the institutions of our nation most grievously with court-packing and all sorts of “well-intended” dreck coming forth from a such-positioned Biden administration. 

     May the results of the election be better than we deserve. 

Agree? Disagree? Lemme know at abell@lawrence.edu