If President Donald Trump and Joe Biden thought they were persuading the undecided voters on Tuesday night, they were mistaken.
Most viewers of the first presidential debate were done with it after the first 10 minutes of over-talking and insults, and the poor moderating by Chris Wallace.
It wouldn’t surprise this writer to learn that viewership was the highest in history during the first 10 minutes, but dropped dramatically after that. Yes, it was that difficult to watch.
In the end, neither men represented America well, but they did represent the pitiful level of discourse now heard across the land: Chaotic, harsh, and unyielding.
Biden told the president to “shut up.” He called him a liar. He called him a clown. He called Trump a racist. He told him to shush. He said Donald Trump is the worst president the nation has ever had.
Biden said Americans died because Trump didn’t close the country down fast enough. Trump said when he closed the incoming flights from China, Biden had called him xenophobic.
Trump also badgered and hounded Biden, telling him he had 47 years to make America better and that he had no plan. Trump spent much of his time defending his record.
Most of the debate, however, was either petty or unintelligible. The three men talked over one another and moderator Wallace repeatedly lectured the president to stand down so Biden could get a word in edgewise. Trump could not find it within him to dial it back a notch.
Biden blamed Trump for the social unrest, saying he drives racial division, while Trump said Biden was not for law and order. Moderator Wallace asked Trump to disavow white nationalism.
An example of the piling on of Wallace and Biden:
Wallace: “Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups…”
Wallace: “And to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we’ve seen in Portland.”
Trump: “Sure, I’m prepared to do it, but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace..”
Wallace: “Then do it, sir.”
Biden: “Do it, say it.”
Trump: “What do you want me to call them? Give me a name.”
Wallace: “White supremacicsts and right-wing militias.”
Biden: “Proud Boys.”
In this exchange, both Wallace and Biden twisted the historical fact that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are burning down America.
The debate reinforced the base for each of the candidates, but would not have persuaded the 11 percent of voters who are undecided. It was too loud, too belligerent, and too incoherent.
Now, the two campaigns and their surrogates will clip the debate up into video remnants, and post those pieces around the internet to prove that one side or the other won the debate, scored points, or looked unpresidential.
No one won Tuesday’s debate. It reflected our polarized political views in America.
But Trump was up against two opponents, and he held his own.