“Will You Shut Up, Man?” September 30, 2020
Anyone who was “undecided” about Biden or Trump going into the 9/29/2020 Cleveland, OH presidential debate (all five to ten of you?) and hoped for a good discussion of the issues, must be disgusted. What they and all the rest of us saw was, IMHO, the worst presidential “debate” ever conducted in the U.S. “Debate” was too charitable a word for this off-the-rails verbal brawl. And, who was responsible for this “sh*tshow as CNN’s Dana Bash called it? Demagogue/third grade bully Donald. Knowing he was trailing Biden nationally and in the key electoral states, Donald knew he had to shake things up, his normal mode of action, but this time to the 100th power. From the get-go, Donald did just that. He never ever stopped interrupting Biden on every subject and made it hard for viewers to follow what Biden was saying. He treated Biden worse than he had treated Hillary in the 2016 debates. Bully Donald repeatedly talked over Biden and turned the debate into a playground fight where his loud and rapid speaking pattern overwhelmed Biden’s answers. At one point, even moderator Chris Wallace, broke into Trump’s relenting loud volley by reminding him, “Mr. President, your campaign agreed both sides get two-minute answers. Uninterrupted. Your side agreed. Observe what your campaign agreed to.” Biden aptly replied, “He (Trump) never keeps his word (cnn.com, 9/29/20, Reston & Collinson).” What are rules to Trump? They exist solely to be broken. When Biden was interrupted for the umpteenth time in making a point by Donald’s butt-in tactics, Biden uttered the debate’s key sound bite to Mr. Bully-in-Chief, “Will you shut up, man (cnn.com, Reston & Collinson)?” Television and radio pundits replied that when Biden made his “shut up” comment, he was rightfully speaking for all of us and a “tired nation (KNX AM, Los Angeles, Karni, nytimes.com, 9/29/20).”
Trump, remember, repeatedly tried to label Biden as senile and “out of it.” A “bigly” fail for Demagogue Donald. In the “debate,” Trump was the same whiny complaining conspiracy wacko he has always been. Trump was wild Grandpa Abe Simpson screaming to be catered to at the rest home when he didn’t immediately get his mushed-up dinner or favorite TV show. Demagogue/Donald the Bully did not obtain his needed campaign game-changer from this debate (See nytimes.com, 9/29/20). Only his hard core MAGA base will stay with him.
Biden was able to attack Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of hard-core Scalia wannabe Amy Coney Barrett to the late liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Biden correctly called 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Barrett an opponent of abortion rights and someone who believes that Obamacare was wrongly decided. If confirmed, which she probably will be with the current GOP Senate majority before the election, Barrett would provide a key vote to overturn health care reform denying millions of Americans basic protection during the COVID pandemic that has already killed over 200,000 Americans. The third attempt to find Obamacare unconstitutional will be heard by the High Court on 11/10/2020, exactly one week after Election Day (9/29/2020 debate, latimes.com, 9/26/20). Barrett has publicly criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for voting with the liberal bloc to uphold the Affordable Care Act. She called his reasoning “devoid of plausible meaning (Bazelon, L., nytimes.com, 9/26/20).” In the debate itself, Trump stated that he was “counting” on the Supreme Court (Barrett obviously included in that group) to “look at the ballots” in the presidential election, an extraordinary request that came before most of the voting has even taken place, for evidence of non-existent voter fraud. Trump’s trying to get the Supreme Ct. into this case makes the Bush v. Gore machinations look petty. Once again, Trump shows his disdain for the Constitutional separation of powers and for our democracy (See nytimes.com,9/29/20, Epstein, R).
Throughout the debate, Trump remained faithful to the racist/insult playbook he has always used both as a candidate and since taking office. He went out of his way to call the COVID-19 pandemic the “China plague.” He attacked former Democratic presidential candidate MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas (9/29/20 debate, nytimes.com, Astor, M.).” Biden attacked Trump for making light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden showed his empathy with the millions of Americans out of work and with those who have lost their lives. He emphasized the need for science to fight this disease. All Trump could talk about was how he brought back football during the pandemic, even though football team members continue to test positive for this virus (See Astor, nytimes.com).
During the entire debate, Biden repeatedly spoke directly to the millions of viewers at home whether it was about the COVID virus, Trump’s disdain for non-millionaires, and about getting out to vote. Biden repeatedly called Trump a “liar” and once even a “clown.” It’s about time that someone told the truth about our “Grifter-in-Chief.” Biden correctly attacked Trump as “the worst President America ever had (9/29/20 Debate).” Trump tried to falsely attack Biden’s son Hunter. Instead of taking on crooked plus Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric, Biden told viewers directly that this election really was about their families, not those of the presidential contenders. When moderator Wallace brought up the NY Times’ recent report about Trump not paying taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years and just paying a paltry $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, Trump claimed he paid “millions of dollars” each year and promised “you’ll get to see it.” Another lie. Biden, one of the least wealthy officials in the Obama administration, paid $91,000 in federal income taxes in 2016 while VP. In 2018, as a private citizen, Biden paid $1.5 million to the federal government. Biden attacked Trump for pushing the top 1% tax cut that helped him and his millionaire buddies and promised to repeal it (nytimes.com, Epstein & Thrush, 9/29/20).
Biden attacked Trump’s anti-environmental record and promised to get back into the Paris agreement to curb global warming, which anti-science Trump proudly left. Trump talked about being a great “environmentalist” by planting trees, never mind all the poisonous chemicals he’s allowed to re-enter the atmosphere by rolling back regulatory measures (9/29/20 debate).
In addition to Biden’s telling Trump to “shut up,” this debate will be best remembered for Trump, once again, refusing to condemn white supremacists. At the debate, Biden stated what he has often said before--he entered the presidential race after seeing and hearing the anti-Semitic and racist bile used by torch-carrying white supremacists during the fatal 2017 Charlottesville race riots. Debate moderator Chris Wallace asked if Trump “was willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and groups to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence and number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” How did Trump answer this question that any decent person could have easily handled? He first said in an off-the-cuff manner, “Sure. I’m willing to do that.” However, he quickly added, cancelling his first comment, “Almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing.” When Wallace pressed Trump more about this issue, Trump asked, “What do you want to call them?” Wallace answered, “White supremacists.” Trump acted like he had never heard that common term. Trump then added this kicker, “Proud Boys, stand back and standby.” Trump is obviously aware of who the Proud Boys are, a far-right white supremacist group that showed up at Charlottesville and at cities where recent anti-racist demonstrations have occurred.
After telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and standby,” Trump added, “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.” Get it? Demagogue Donald highlighted left-wing violence when asked to condemn white supremacists, despite racist white supremacists committing more lethal attacks in recent years. Kenneth Cuccinelli, far from a left-winger and now Trump’s acting deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, recently stated, “when white supremacists act as terrorists, more people per incident are killed (nytimes.com, 9/29/20, Thrush & Kanno-Youngs).” Moderator Wallace pointed out that Trump’s own FBI Director Christopher Wray had stated that antifa is “not an organization.” Trump replied in shock, “You have to be kidding.” This past month, FBI Director Wray also said that “racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up the majority of domestic terrorism threats (nytimes.com Thrush & Kanno-Youngs). Director Wray, you may soon join Jim Comey as Trump’s second fired chief law enforcement officer. Trump has never met a white supremacist he didn’t like. The Proud Boys are already issuing shirts with Trump’s “stand back and standby” quote on them. Any future violence by them rests squarely on Trump.
Trump again kept repeating the absolutely false statement that “mail-in votes are going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.” Never mind, as Biden noted, that five states, both Democratic and Republican ones, do complete mail-in-voting and everything has been fine. Biden said that Trump himself votes by mail (Debate 9/29/20, Epstein, R., nytimes.com, 9/29/20).
A post CNN-poll of debate watchers showed that 60% believed Biden won the debate while just 28% stated Trump had. Before the debate, these same voters believed by a 56%-43% margin that Biden would do better than Trump (cnn.com, 9/30/20, Agiesta, J.). Yes, Biden handily beat debate expectations, but Hillary also easily won all her debates against Trump as well. The only winning that counts will be the votes done in the run up to and on Election Day. Biden specifically told his viewers that Trump “cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election. He’s just afraid of counting votes.” He also added that the way to clearly defeat Trump is to vote, vote, and vote (Debate, 9/29/20, Epstein, R., nytimes.com, 9/29/20).” Exactly. Vote in droves plus and throw Trump out in a landslide.
Some people believe that Trump deliberately played the interrupting screaming bully against Biden to discourage and turn off people from voting by making politics look bad. He must not succeed at doing this. Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has no respect for his political opponents, rules, or the debate moderator. I, therefore, believe that after Democratic VP candidate Sen. Kamala Harris debates GOP VP Mike Pence on 10/07/2020, that Biden must not debate Trump anymore. The two remaining presidential debates set for 10/15/2020 and 10/22/2020 must be cancelled and not rescheduled (See nytimes.com, Paz, 9/30/20). We must not let Demagogue Bully-in-Chief Donald get any more chances at making a mockery of our democracy and its institutions. Vote in person early or at the polls on Election Day, 11/03/2020 in strong numbers or vote in droves plus by mail. If you vote by mail, as many will do during the COVID-virus pandemic, return those ballots nearly as soon as you get them so that Trump’s Post Office head Louis DeJoy cannot play delaying games with them. Democracy is not a joke. Too many Americans have fought and died to preserve it over the last 244 years. Trumpism must be “shut up” permanently with our ballots.