I’m awfully glad there won’t be any more debates this year. If nothing else, they’re exhausting to watch. Four takeaways from the one tonight:
- DT showed self-control.
Although he may be an emotionally immature narcissist with sociopathic tendencies, the president demonstrated tonight that some degree of self-control isn’t completely beyond him. He was belligerent and rude and several times insisted on talking over the moderator, but he knew that with his microphone muted he’d look supremely foolish for trying to interrupt Joe Biden during the former vice president’s initial answers. So he didn’t. In a way, this makes him look even worse because if he is capable of controlling himself, it means he chose not to do so at the earlier debate. In other words, he was intentionally making an asshat of himself before.
- DT has no shame.
Okay, so everybody knew that already, but calling himself the “least racist person in the room” reinforced the fact that he doesn’t hesitate to make any claim about his own character or abilities, no matter how demonstrably false or patently offensive, if he thinks it will suit his purposes. He looks in the mirror and sees perfection. Yet behind that…façade, shall we say, is a deeply ignorant, narrow-minded man of extraordinary privilege who wouldn’t know racism if it stared him in the face. Which it does—when he looks in the mirror and when he meets with the various white supremacists with whom he associates.
- DT is really, really dense.
Comparing one’s record to that of Abraham Lincoln is a risky thing for any president to do. Though not beyond criticism by a long shot, our 16th president was probably the best one we’ve had, to date. By all accounts, he was bright, compassionate, and humble—three adjectives one would be hard-pressed to apply to our 45th president unless one were making some kind of sick joke. It was interesting what happened when Joe Biden jokingly referred to his opponent as Lincoln. Anyone else with a modicum of mental sharpness would have laughed or at least smiled, maybe cracked a joke in return. Instead, DT expressed surprise, indicating he thought Joe had misunderstood him, and took pains to explain that he hadn’t called himself Lincoln. It was a missed opportunity for DT to come across as a little more human, and he blew it.
- Joe has the power.
Speaking of bright, compassionate, and humble, Joe Biden gives every appearance of sharing those attributes of Lincoln’s. Like Lincoln, he will (God willing) to take over the reins during an especially dark and trying time in American history. (We’ll hope there won’t be any sort of civil war again.) Having watched his performance now in a whole lot of debates, including those during the primaries, I am confident that he has what it takes to return the nation to a normal state. I also believe he is willing to take bold action on the interrelated issues of pandemic, climate crisis, and jobs. In doing so, he could well end up being the most transformative president since FDR. Transformation for the better, I mean.