OP-ED: Reviewing the Debates

I take a look at the best and worst of the first Presidential and Vice Presidential debates so you don’t have to.


U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo / Public domain

The first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was an absolute mess.

On September 29th, America and the world got to see President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clash in the worst debate in history.  The debate took place in Cleveland and was moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.  Between Trump’s constant interruptions and Biden’s rambling, most people were not able to get a clear message from either candidate.  I decided to do what most people wouldn’t do: I re-watched the debate in it’s entirety.  It was even funnier the second time, but I was able to hear some of the hidden messages that both candidates attempted to convey.

President Trump hopes that his debate performance was good enough to secure some undecided voters.

The President’s main message from the first debate was that everything was going great before the pandemic, and that the Democrats have become “radical leftists.”  He also blasted Biden’s 47 year record as a politician.  Biden lit up Trump’s coronavirus response and tax returns.  I thought Trump brought up some good points about the economy and foreign policy, he was just really bad at explaining them. Same goes for Biden on COVID issues, he said a lot a vague things and did not say that he would’ve done anything differently other than “listening to the scientists.”  When pressed on if he would add seats the Supreme Court if elected, Biden did not confirm or deny that he would by telling people to go out and vote.  Biden also tried talking to the cameras and playing to people’s emotions.

Former Vice President Joe Biden managed to to put up a decent performance against the President.

I thought Biden came off as a typical politician, say the right things and you’ll get elected.  However, when asked to condemn white supremacy for what feels like the millionth time, Trump, while Wallace was still talking, said “sure I’m willing to do that.”  Many people, however, did not catch this sentence, which lead to the Media and twitter to have an absolute meltdown.  The President should have been more clear when he said that.  Trump then said that left wing groups like ANTIFA were the ones burning cities to the ground, not right wing groups like the Proud Boys.  Biden said that Antifa is an idea, not an organization, which I thought was completely tone deaf to the American public.

My final thought on the first debate was that nobody won.  Joshua Sims, a freshman at Lafayette, said, “That was the dumbest thing I have ever seen in my life.”  This was such a mess, and both sides are guilty here.  I think that the second debate, whenever that is, will have a lot less of this garbage and more talk of actual policy.

The Vice Presidential debate took place on October 7th in Salt Lake City between Vice President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris.  This debate, unlike the Presidential debate, was civil.  I actually enjoyed watching this one.  Pence managed to defend Trump’s record, but also made Harris play defense on her and Biden’s records.  It seemed like when ever Harris said something, Pence had a comeback.  Pence pressed Harris on court packing, which she did not answer.  The last question was from a 8th grade boy from Utah, he asked why everyone seemed to be angry at each other.  Pence responded by saying that “not everything on TV is what is happening in the real world,” which I thought was a great response.  Harris replied be saying that “Joe Biden has spent his whole career bringing people together.”  I thought that said everything I need to know about Kamala Harris.

Mike Pence did an amazing job defending the President’s record in the Vice Presidential debate.

Pence easily won this debate.  He was cool and collected, but he had his zingers.  When he said, “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts,” I started laughing.  I thought that Harris came off as condescending and rude.  Her constant smirking made me not like her.  The “I am speaking” thing seemed like she had spent too much time trying to rehearse that.  “Pence still managed to shut her down, which I thought spoke levels to how good at debating Mike Pence is,” said Nick Barrows, a York high school senior.  During the debate, a fly landed on Pence’s head, which I thought was hilarious.

With the second presidential debate cancelled until further notice, there is a real possibility that Pence’s strong performance will be that last debate seen before election day.  After watching two debates, I think it is safe to say that it might not be a bad thing.