In a regrettable admission of age, I have noted that I’ve spent more than 55 years covering the political circus that controls the leadership of America.
Yet, nothing I have watched or covered during that time matches the obnoxious display of ego, rudeness and outright boorishness of the current president who disgraces his office and our country.
Robin Givhan, a writer I follow and admire in The Washington Post sums it up in the first two paragraphs of her analysis of the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden Tuesday night at Case Western University in Cleveland:
Donald Trump came to heckle. He came to interrupt and to pontificate and to flail his arms, batting away questions and facts in a chaotic fury. He was a boor and a troll, holding up his stubby mitts in an angry pantomime as he tried to halt the words coming from former vice president Joe Biden’s mouth. Trump seemed to believe that with a single rude hand gesture, one that he regularly uses to assert his dominance, he could hold back the truth, so he could be free to spin and hype and vent.
It was an exhausting mess that spun beyond moderator Chris Wallace’s control and outside the bounds of anything that could reasonably be called a debate. It was a 90-minute display of a president’s testosterone-fueled, unmanaged rage and insecurity.
Biden came to debate, God bless him. Trump arrived seemingly hopped up on grievance and indignation, determined to just bellow his way through the evening without ever having to answer a question or speak with clarity and sincerity to the home audience. He raised issues with Biden about his son Hunter’s foreign business dealings and then refused to let his political rival answer. He yammered about fake news and Hillary Clinton. He talked over both Biden and Wallace. He talked so much that it became impossible to even understand what he was talking about. He talked ceaselessly, and yet he said very little. He talked so much it was as though he was trying to pummel the viewer into submission with his words.
Trump was still mouthing off after Wallace ended the debate. CBS news anchor Nora O’Donnell asked what many others were probably wondering: “Can we really have two more of these debates with the type of behavior that was displayed tonight?”
“As someone who has watched for 40 years,” said previous primary debate moderator George Stephanopoulos of ABC, “that was the worst presidential debate I have ever seen.”
“If hearing that this debate is over was music to your ears, you may not be alone,” said NBC “Nightly News” host Lester Holt, “I’m at a bit of a loss for words here to describe what we’ve just witnessed.”
As a newspaperman who has been watching televised presidential debates since the first one between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, I can only agree, but what else can we expect from the worst president in all history, a documented liar, abuser of women and outright fraud who, somehow, has the support of about 30 percent of Americans. How can they even claim this pathetic man should be the president of our nation?
Trump came into the debate trailing badly with just five weeks to go before an election he should and must lose, if there is any hope left for the America he has destroyed in just under four years. He strived to unhinge former Vice President Joe Biden. He didn’t, but he did succeed to turn what should have been a serious debate on serious issues into a P.T. Barnum travesty of a sideshow with him as the only freak on the stage.
Writes Dan Balz:
No one alive has ever seen a presidential debate like Tuesday night’s unseemly shout fest between President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden — 90 minutes of invective, interruptions and personal insults. It was an insult to the public as well, and a sad example of the state of American democracy five weeks before the election.
Donald Trump did not act as a debater,” said MSNBC host Nicole Wallace. “Donald Trump was the abuser.”
She adds: “This felt like an assault. It felt like an assault on our senses. It felt like an assault on our presidential campaign process. It felt like another assault on our politics”
“I’m the most horrified I’ve been in my career as a political journalist,” tweeted New York Times op-ed writer David Brooks. He predicts: “This election won’t be close. Have faith in the American people!”
Let’s hope…and pray…that Brooks is right.