Debate Reflection

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13 mins read

I did watch the whole debate last night. Alcohol was consumed to make it bearable, but here are some thoughts on what really happened in the First Presidential Debate of 2020.

Both men spoke to their bases. If someone is an informed voter who has been following the articles and interviews, then it was easy to recognize the talking points that were being said by each candidate. Biden repeated the fake news and framing devices used by the main stream media to try to make his points. Trump fired back and even interrupted to challenge the lies and intentional misleading framing of the facts. When Trump was hitting home his talking points, easily recognized by those on the right, Biden would either interrupt or laugh nervously. At least he did, until Mike Wallace, I mean… Chris Matthews, or was it  was Chris Wallace… all the media moderators run together these days, would himself interrupt Trump and try to “regain control” of the debate.

Biden:

To me Joe came across as wooden at times. Dismissive and disrespectful at other times. Specifically consider, Joe told the President of the United States of America to… shut up. Calling Trump a clown didn’t really bother me, Trump invoked Pocahontas so the name calling was, well, expected. Joe also clearly had pre-determined swipes he was going to take at Trump. The out of place insult about “getting out of the bunker and off the golf course” was particularly weak. Obama, Bush W and Trump have all been criticized at various times in their administrations for “playing golf while the nation was in crisis”. Unfortunately for Joe, it came across as an unnatural, forced and rehearsed insult from his “debate prep team”. When Trump brought up Hunter & Burisma, Joe tried to shift the discussion to be about his dead son Beau. It was an obvious dodge and frankly it didn’t work. Because Trump immediately fired back that it was Hunter that was the focus of all the current scandal and in my opinion missed a chance to land a punch, with, “you have two sons Joe and they are not interchangeable.”

Trump:

Don was what we expected him to be. He was interrupting Joe. He was hard charging and abrasive. He called Joe out when he lied and was even combative with Chris Wallace when it became obvious that Wallace was giving Joe more first chances to speak and also framing all his questions as if the Democrat talking points actually represented the truth and facts of what is happening. When Don was addressed, not just responding to Joe, but actually speaking to the question asked, he was direct. He took on the false framing and responded to what is happening with the idea that the question could have been asking if it had not been intentionally misleading. I would be remiss if I did not remind everyone, every time Don was landing a punch, either Joe would interrupt, or Wallace would.

Chris Wallace:

What a performance. No really, I mean it. The only way to really understand just how bad he performed was to see it live. First thing that comes out is, “I decided the topics and the questions in each topic”. This was a weak move at best and a very, very stupid thing at worst.

Before the debate even got started, Chris took ownership for all the questions. What they were, how they are framed, and worst of all, any lies or false framing, he owns it all. He took ownership for things like, “Over the last four years, you have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, but you have never in these four years come up with a plan, a comprehensive plan, to replace Obamacare.” Now, the exchange that followed was a ruckus! Apparently, Wallace didn’t consider that to be the question. “Mr. President, I’m the moderator of this debate and I would like you to let me ask my question and then you can answer.” Here is the question that, based on his own words, Wallace came up with, “You, in the course of these four years, have never come up with a comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare, and just this last Thursday you signed a largely symbolic Executive Order to protect people with pre-existing conditions five days before this debate. So my question, sir, is what is the Trump healthcare plan?”

This question, I saw red when I heard the question. I was disappointed by Don’s response. He had the perfect opportunity to say, “My plan is to give the American People control over their own health care options by reducing government interference and opening up the market of policies available to the people at affordable levels, something that Obamacare promised, but failed to deliver.” Instead we got, “Well, first of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s okay. I’m not surprised. Let me just tell you something. There’s nothing symbolic. I’m cutting drug prices. I’m going with Favored Nations, which no President has the courage to do because you’re going against big pharma. Drug prices will be coming down 80 or 90%. You could have done it during your 47 year period in government, but you didn’t do it. Nobody’s done it. So we’re cutting healthcare.” Chris Wallace, “What about pre-existing conditions?” 

If you don’t want to watch because all the crosstalk was unbearable, go read the transcript here.

Second, Wallace also started the debate with the statement that, “I can assure you none of the questions has been shared with the Commission or the two candidates.” This was chuckle worthy. I don’t think anyone, including Wallace believes that statement for one minute. But, just for giggles, let’s run with it. As just a quick search shows,

Posted at 2:00 PM, Sep 22, 2020 and last updated 3:00 PM, Sep 22, 2020

The topics to be discussed during the first presidential debate next week include “the integrity of the election,” according to the official list released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

Sure, this is not the “questions” but if you read the transcript every topic is framed by the Democrat talking points, so the questions are irrelevant when you know the topics. As an example, let’s just analyze the question from above.

  1. You, in the course of these four years, have never come up with a comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare …

In the first year of his Presidency, with both the House and Senate in Republican control attempted to completely end Obamacare. It almost happened. The House backed Trump. The Senate vote was going to be close, we all knew it would be close. Then, John McCain stabbed all of the Republicans in the back and voted to stop the repeal of Obamacare. The only thing that Trump was able to get through was the removal of the “individual mandate” which really took the teeth out of Obamacare. So, no. Trump has not come up with a plan to “replace” the worst legislation ever in the history of the USA.

  • … just this last Thursday you signed a largely symbolic Executive Order to protect people with pre-existing conditions …

Why is the Executive Order “largely symbolic”? That is straight up Wallace’s opinion. That is not the worst of this fame job, but let’s call it for what it is, it is Wallace’s opinion. The worst part of this is that it leads the viewer up the primrose path to the Democrat Fear Mongering Talking Point, “to protect people with pre-existing conditions.” Now, this is a particularly insidious shaping of the narrative. The Democrats are running around like a flock of Chicken Littles telling us that millions of people with “pre-existing conditions” are going to suffer and die unless Trump is defeated in the 2020 Election. So, when Trump does something to protect that specific demographic, it is presented by Wallace as “largely symbolic” and motivated by nothing but politics because it was done “five days before this debate”.

So, before Wallace even asks a question he has backhandedly referenced Trump’s attempts to end Obamacare. Implying that ending a program that has only existed for 10 years but didn’t go into full force until 6 years ago, would somehow completely destroy health care in the USA. Baked into the setup cake and question frosting is the idea that we, the American People, need the Federal Government to provide for our Health Care needs. No. No we do not. Because every single time that the Fed Gov gets involved in insurance, it gets more expensive and more difficult to navigate all while limiting the providers.

I have already addressed how Don answered the question, along with the response I wish he had given. So, I’ll close this out with the following.

I find it hard to believe that anyone changed their minds after watching this debate. All three participants were speaking to their base, resulting in President Trump being outnumbered on the stage 2 to 1. My favorite moment was after the debate. When Melania came up on stage, without a mask, and quietly asked, “Are you Ok?” Not in a condescending or insulting manner, but in a truly caring and tender moment, the first lady recognized the fight her husband had just been through and was opening up to him softly, and reassuringly, to tell him that he was not alone. She was there for him, and was concerned for his wellbeing. It was a beautiful moment.

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Editor’s Note: Darrell Sipes gives some encouragement. If you have no backbone when things are tough