This week’s debate was unlike anything we’ve seen before. I mostly had my jaw on the floor with Trump’s outlandish, even offensive behaviour and Twitter sure had a lot to say about it. Check out the top five WTF moments from this week’s debate, with some of the best tweets the internet served up.
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- Trump constantly interrupting Biden
So this list hasn’t started off particularly well, as this lasted the whole 90 minutes rather than just a moment. But neither did the debate start well for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who appeared ‘rattled’ in the first 15 minutes.
Each candidate is given 2 minutes on each subject, but Trump didn’t give Biden the chance to string 2 sentences together. Interrupting him a total of 73 times, some think that this could have been a tactic to take advantage of Biden having a stutter. Many others that have stutters have pointed out that being interrupted is one of the worst things someone can do to them, which explains why Biden often paused over certain words. The Financial Times have concurred that this may show Trump feeling unsettled by his position behind Biden in the polls; an act of desperation. But this doesn’t sit right with me.
Overall however, Biden definitely appeared more composed and ‘Presidential’. He laughed off the rest of Trump’s attacks, many of which ended up aimed at the moderator… However, it was clear that this was not a two way conversation as Biden chose to deliver his answers directly down the camera, to the American people, described by his running mate Kamala Harris as “bringing some semblance of maturity to the conversation”.
- Trump refused to condemn white supremacists (and told them to ‘standby’)
When asked by the moderator to condemn white supremacists, Trump blustered his way through something that never actually fulfilled this request. At this point Biden gave him a helping hand by suggesting that he disavow the Proud Boys, a far-right group that advocates violence, to which Trump replied: “The Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by.” Not really a condemnation of a white supremacist group- and his answer mostly focused on “left wing violence” instead, insisting that was the real issue. A truly shocking moment.
- ‘Will you shut up, man’
Biden said what we were all thinking. And while this may make for a great meme or t-shirt slogan, it’s interesting to compare to the 2016 debates between Trump and Clinton. Although no one is surprised by Trump’s lack of basic understanding of how conversation works, he didn’t display this level of eraticism in 2016. This may be because of the stutter issue, the rumours of his deteriorating mental capacity due to his age, or a nice new debate technique especially for everyone’s favourite year, 2020. On the other hand, Clinton would have been in no position to shout over him without fulfilling the stereotypical attack that ‘women are too emotional for politics’.
- Trump roasting Biden because he chooses to wear a mask … in a global pandemic
“He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up in the biggest mask I’ve ever seen”. – A rational comment from the President of America after over 200,000 deaths from Covid-19 on his watch. Although the debate was riddled with misinformation from Trump, his questioning on the pandemic spewed the most falsehoods:
- ‘There aren’t 100 million people with pre-existing conditions’, referring to those unable to get health insurance; NowThis claims there are 135 million at least
- Claiming that Biden’s health plan will eliminate private health insurance, when in fact it will include a public option (similar to the NHS in the UK)
- He says that he has a health care plan (to replace Obamacare, which he is trying to repeal in the Supreme Court), but no policy has been proposed in the last 4 years.
This exemplifies most of the debate, in which came attack after attack with no substantial discussion of policy or new proposals from Trump if he were to win the White House again.
- The moderator asking whether the election is going to be legitimate
This question seems tame on the surface, but and is important, considering Trump has expressed an unwillingness to ‘leave quietly’ if he is removed from the White House as a result of the election. But when you take a step back, this is a stark reminder that the American democracy isn’t where it should be. Should the integrity of an election even need to be questioned? The FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast expressed concerns that this may spur even more conspiracy theories about a rigged mail in election.
So the real question is, will Biden engage in future debates? The Commission on Presidential Debates has said that it will add new “tools to maintain order” to the upcoming debates, which Trump may then refuse to take part in. Trump has also stated he is ill with Coronavirus, which makes the possibility of further debate very unlikely. This could be a long month ahead of us.
A CNN poll says 6/10 debate watchers think Biden won, but at the end of the day if you’re already a Trump supporter, was this really going to put you off? The most shocking part of the campaign, epitomised by the debate, is that none of this is actually shocking to us. Yeah we’re all talking about it, but is anyone surprised at this point? Is it possible to imagine anything that Trump could do now that would really cause an uproar, and what does this say about the American ‘democracy’?
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