#PresidentialDebate2020: An incoherent, chaotic debacle of one-ups and put-downs

#PresidentialDebate2020: An incoherent, chaotic debacle of one-ups and put-downs

The viewer and the single, beleaguered moderator were left to sift through the incessant noise as President Trump and Former VP Biden name-called and spoke over the other to present – in the latter’s words – the most ‘unpresidential’ debate in recent history. 

The first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden deteriorated into bitter taunts and near chaos Tuesday night as Trump repeatedly interrupted his opponent with angry — and personal — jabs that sometimes overshadowed the sharply different visions each man has for a nation facing historic crises.

In the most tumultuous presidential debate in recent memory, Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as Proud Boys to “stand back, stand by.”

There were also heated clashes over the president’s handling of the pandemic, the integrity of the election results, deeply personal attacks about Biden’s family and how the Supreme Court will shape the future of the nation’s health care.

The two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”

“The fact is that everything he’s saying so far is simply a lie,” Biden said. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”

The presidential race has been remarkably stable for weeks, despite the historic crises that have battered the country this year, including a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and a reckoning over race and police brutality. 

With just five weeks until Election Day and voting already underway in some key states, Biden has maintained a lead in national polls and in many battlegrounds.

Over and over, Trump tried to control the conversation, interrupting Biden and repeatedly talking over the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News. The president tried to deflect tough lines of questioning — whether on his taxes or the pandemic — to deliver broadsides against Biden.

The president drew a lecture from Wallace, who pleaded with both men to stop talking over each other. Biden tried to push back against Trump, sometimes looking right at the camera to directly address viewers rather than the president and snapping, “It’s hard to get a word in with this clown.”

Again refusing to commit to honouring the results of the election, Trump spread falsehoods about mail voting. Without evidence, he suggested that the process — surging in popularity during the pandemic — was ripe for fraud and incorrectly claimed impropriety at a Pennsylvania voting site.

But despite his efforts to dominate the discussion, Trump was frequently put on the defensive and tried to sidestep when he was asked if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and paramilitary groups.

“What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name,” Trump said, before Biden mentioned the far right, violent group known as the Proud Boys. 

Trump then pointedly did not condemn the group, instead saying, “Proud Boys, stand back, stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not right wing problem. This is a left wing problem.”

Biden attacked Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying that the president “waited and waited” to act when the virus reached America’s shores and “still doesn’t have a plan.” 

The pandemic’s effects were in plain sight, with the candidates’ lecterns spaced far apart, all of the guests in the small crowd tested and the traditional opening handshake scrapped. While neither candidate wore a mask to take the stage, their families did sport face coverings.

Trump struggled to define his ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act on health care in the debate’s early moments and defended his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, declaring that “I was not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years.”

Trump criticised Biden over the former vice president’s refusal to comment on whether he would try to expand the Supreme Court in retaliation if Barrett is confirmed to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

That idea has gained momentum on the party’s left flank but Biden tried to put distance between himself and the liberal wing, declining to endorse the Green New Deal and rejecting the assertion that he was under the control of radicals by declaring “I am the Democratic Party now.”

The scattershot debate bounced from topic to topic, with Trump again refusing to embrace the science of climate change while Biden accused Trump of walking away from the American promise of equity for all and making a race-based appeal.

It is unclear whether the debate lent to the much needed clarity on the political banners set to lead the nation into the next four years. 

Many pondered if another such ‘debate’ was even necessary going forth, if it was stick to a similar vein. 

[Sourced from Agencies]

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