America likes pills, especially a single pill that could solve all our problems. Like our presidency. That’s why we had to have one last debate. It’s the illusion we could get the whole schmear of a campaign in 90 minutes of muted real time.
And besides being the best moderated debate (the President wasn’t allowed to bully and interrupt the former Vice President Joe Biden at will), it was also the most Asian of all the presidential debates.
The word “Asian” was used twice!
The first time, it was a direct question about people of color living near oil refineries and chemical plants in Texas, a classic environmental racism concern. People are worried about pollution killing them and making them sick. Moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump: “Your administration has rolled back regulations on these kinds of facilities. Why should these families give you another four years in office?”
Great question. But instead of concern for the families’ health, Trump led with his gut. It’s all about the money. “The families we’re talking about are employed heavily, and they’re making a lot of money, more money than they’ve ever made,” Trump said without evidence.
Of course, the families pay with their lives. But Trump didn’t seem to care. He’s the profit first guy, not the humanistic guy. And it’s the pattern behind all his solutions. He’ll throw money at it. Until the U.S. budget deficit triples to a record $3.1 trillion. That’s the problem with a billionaire businessman who games the bankruptcy laws and pays only $750 a year in taxes. He can’t relate to Americans as human beings in distress.
Any mention of the health of the families living next to those polluting factories? No. But Trump did go on about money.
“If you look at the kind of numbers we’ve produced for Hispanic, for black, or Asian, it’s nine times greater the percentage gain than it was under in three years, than it was under eight years of the two of them, to put it nicely,” Trump continued, implying he was better than Biden and Obama.
I don’t know if the numbers are correct, or if he conflated the families next to those refineries in Texas with families in general, nationally. But here was Trump with a real chance to appeal to these voters in Texas, including some Asian Americans, and Trump answered in the most venal, dispassionate way.
The other “Asian” mention came in the last question posed by Welker, the imagine yourself on your Inauguration Day: “What will you say in your address to Americans who did not vote for you?”
Maybe Trump didn’t hear the question correctly. But he launched into a rap about how “the road to success will bring us together,” then boasted how under his administration, “We had the best black unemployment numbers in the history of our country, Hispanic, women, Asian, people with diplomas, no diplomas, MIT graduates, number one in the class, everyone had the best numbers.”
It was an incoherent diversity ramble. I guess he assumed everyone’s voting for him (just like an authoritarian to think that). And why? Because obviously look what he’s done for us–made us all rich? Definitely, not one percent rich. Barely middle class rich.
So he didn’t exactly answer the question. But he used the word “Asian” again.
Trump says Asian twice not related to coronavirus, and he thinks it’s a way to get the Asian American vote (5 percent of the electorate). But the president’s record, especially on Twitter, is abysmal. According to research by Stop AAPI Hate, the president’s use of “China virus” and other anti-Asian rhetoric on Twitter was retweeted 1.2 million times and “liked” 4.2 million times. Trump is the super-spreader of anti-Asian American hate.
Biden saw Welker’s final question about talking to people who didn’t vote for him as an invitation to unite the country.
“I will say, I’m an American president. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me. And I’m going to make sure you’re represented. I’m going to give you hope. We’re going to move. We’re going to choose science over fiction, we’re going to choose hope over fear.” He then touched on dealing with the economy and systemic racism, making sure everyone has an even chance. “I’m going to make sure you get it. You haven’t been getting that the last four years.”
That’s why Biden won the all-important last debate. He was clear, direct, and, for the most part, in command.
DEBATE AS ENTERTAINMENT
I’ve voted already. So I got to watch the most important debate of the most important election in our life for entertainment purposes only.
At this point in a campaign that has gone on for nearly two years, in order to replace a man who has been a one-man demolition derby on democracy for almost four years, what can anyone say that could possibly change my mind at the last minute?
Did you forget the last four years? Here’s a random list: The embrace of enemy Putin in Helsinki; The Muslim travel ban; The Wall obsession; The love affair with Kim Jong Un; The clearing out of BLM protesters to bible thump for the cameras; The children stripped from mothers then lost at the border; Kavanaugh; The stripping of ACA/Obamacare; Cronies and top aides jailed and indicted; Downplaying the pandemic; 220, 000 dead Americans.
And I’ve left out all the sex parts.
The record of presidential incompetence is staggering.
That’s not debatable.
Almost 50 million people have already voted, including me. And nothing I saw on Thursday made me want to break into my county registrar’s office to retrieve my ballot and change a thing.
That meant I could look at the debate objectively. Here’s my scorecard:
STYLE: Trump was so obnoxious, seeming to look down his nose at Biden throughout the debate on the split screen. Trump had that Harry Hubris, “better than you” look. Setting himself up for a fall. Meanwhile, Biden was Uncle Joe. Calm and unagitated, even when disagreeing. Who seemed more trustworthy with the TV sound down? BIDEN.
CLASH: Debate is about two people knocking heads honestly on the issues. Not being evasive. The more direct clashes, the better. On coronavirus, it was clear. Trump wants to open up and asserts the virus will just go away. Biden prosecuted Trump’s downplay of the virus. They clashed. Biden was more persuasive.
Trump avoided the foreign interference question and quickly pivoted to the long debunked Hunter Biden/Ukraine story. It was dead last November. It’s dead now, after reports say it was concocted by a Russian operative via Trump henchmen Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon. A big so what at this point, especially with Trump potentially more corrupt with family members on the presidential payroll and his own companies profiting from the presidency.
Trump was detestable on immigration. He’s Mr. Build-a-Wall, right? He showed no compassion for the 545 children who are lost after having been separated from their parents at the border. Trump tried to slide away from that, saying, “They are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean.” But his concern for the kids? He might buy them some fast-food Happy Meals if their parents are ever found.
Meanwhile, Biden scored simply by speaking about DACA recipients directly. There will be a path to citizenship. It was persuasive. No real clash by Trump, who avoided more than clashed. Therefore, this one goes to BIDEN.
PENCE FLY MOMENT: There was no presidential fly at the debate. But some statements stick out. Like Trump saying, “I am the least racist person in the room.” Is he counting all his “illegal alien” language? Does he remember his wall? His Muslim ban? Biden clashed persuasively, chiming in that Trump had a “dog whistle as big as a foghorn.” Trump’s defensiveness about doing more for blacks than Abraham Lincoln was also comical.
Both sides had little pesky remarks that will haunt was much as that Pence Fly, so in lieu of an actual insect making it to the debate stage, I’d make this category a TIE.
With the possible exception of Trump goading Biden to say he’d close down oil companies to reach climate change goals, Biden’s night was smooth. Non-chaotic.
Biden’s ahead in the polls and nothing in the last debate changed a thing.
But admit it. The undecideds are in the minority. We’ve all seen enough.
Now, go vote.