by Janice Shaw Crouse
Before the first presidential debate, the consensus was that it would be a consequential event — pundits said, “This debate matters; this election matters.” Others talked about it being a “big deal” and a “historic moment.” Obviously, both candidates approached the debate knowing the significance of their performances. Both were ready, even raring, to go!
Trump needed to defend his record and show strength; he did that. Biden needed to show that he had the mental ability to make sense and stand up for 90 minutes; he did that. In that sense, the debate was a draw. But Trump succeeded in keeping Biden off balance; clearly, Biden got rattled and flustered. Biden has a reputation for nasty responses when he’s challenged. He certainly cemented that reputation in the first debate. The most memorable lines of the night were Biden at his nastiest: “Will you shut up, man?” and “Keep yapping, man!” He also accused Trump of “ranting” and being “racist.” In utter frustration and exasperation at one point, Biden exclaimed, “It’s hard to get a word in with this clown.” These are new lows for someone who at one point in the debate responded to Trump’s taunt, “This is so unpresidential!”