“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”
By Alex P. Vidal
BY the time this article comes out, most Americans may have already decided who won in the first of the three scheduled debates between U.S. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden last night (September 29 U.S. Eastern Time) at the Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio.
I watched from my room the “live” fiery debate that lasted for one hour and thirty minutes simultaneously in three tablets (channels CBS News, CNN, ABC), to make sure I won’t miss any fireworks starting at 9 o’clock in the evening.
For the record, I still rank President John F. Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry, President Barack Obama, as among the few Democrats who really impressed me in the presidential debates.
Mr. Biden, who has been in public service for 47 years, too, is a hell of a debater but only 10 to 20 years ago, according to my personal assessment. Age must have slowed him down.
New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com writer Jonathan D. Salant immediately conducted an online survey and as of this writing, Salant’s survey showed Mr. Trump ahead by 50.1% (87,748 votes) as against Mr. Biden’s 49.9% (87,392 votes) out of 175,140 votes.
I thought Mr. Biden would score a coup de grace when Mr. Trump seemed to have lost his poise as he came out swinging with a machete and interrupting moderator Chris Wallace in the early stage.
I thought the former vice president would exploit the scandalous and stunning New York Times expose on the president’s income tax where Mr. Trump had been supposedly exposed to have paid only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017.
In my opinion, which most Democrats will surely disagree, Mr. Trump was able to avoid that dragnet.
In Patch staff Todd Richissin’s opinion, “Mr. Trump was amped up big time throughout the debate.”
Mr. Trump has ridiculed Mr. Biden as "Sleepy Joe."
That may have backfired, Richissin observed, given the energy Mr. Biden showed during the debate. He was feisty, garbled few words and fired back at Mr. Trump without hesitation, once calling him a "clown" (before immediately apologizing).
Mr. Trump also consistently interrupted not only Mr. Biden but also moderator Chris Wallace.
The president once told Wallace it seemed it was Trump versus Biden and Wallace. Mr. Biden had his own moment after being repeatedly interrupted by Mr. Trump, asking the president, "Will you shut up, man?"
Mr. Bide went after Mr. Trump on his handling of the coronavirus crisis by framing it as "totally irresponsible" and managing it in such a way that the rich got richer while working-class people disproportionately. This is an emerging theme in Biden's campaign, Richissin said.
The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Trump had paid no income taxes in 10 of the 15 years prior to his presidency.
When asked about it, Mr. Trump doubled down, claiming he paid millions of dollars in income taxes over that period.
"Then show us your taxes," Mr. Biden snapped back.
When all else fails, look to the stock market.
Mr. Biden has proposed raising the top tax rate for capital gains for the highest earners to 39.6 percent from 23.8 percent, and he would boost the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent.
CNBC said if the markets go down Wednesday or Thursday or both days, that's a good indication that Mr. Biden was considered the winner.
If they go up, that's a nod to Mr. Trump's performance.
Richissin said that may be a dubious claim since the number of people who drive the markets is relatively small.
It's hard to imagine that Wallace, of Fox News, will be seen as anything but a winner, added Richissin.
When Mr. Trump interrupted, Wallace asked him (and eventually pleaded with him), to stop. He did the same to Mr. Biden on the relatively few occasions the former vice president interrupted.
Toward the end of the debate, Wallace asked Mr. Trump why he would not abide by the rules of the debate both campaigns had agreed to.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)