But that first debate was right up there.
I pride myself on not watching political debates — I’ve never seen one yet that was an actual debate and not a choreographed linguistic wrestling match— but I watched Tuesday’s ‘debate’ between Donald Trump and Joe Biden just to see if Trump was going to show the country how presidential he could be when push came to shove.
A day or two before the debate Trump was asked what he was doing to prepare for it. When he said he didn’t have to prep, I knew he was planning to do exactly what he did, which is exactly what he does every time he gets before the cameras. There’s a specific script in his brain and he never deviates. I wrote this on Twitter:
Donald Trump announces he’s not prepping for the debate tonight. And why would he? It’ll be:
Insult Joe — check
Fake news — check
Blue states are bad — check
Great job on COVID — check
Stock mkt booming — check
I’m the greatest — check
I beat Hillary — check
I missed ‘Biden kept me from paying taxes’ and ‘Shout-out to Proud Boys’ — and I really didn’t see ‘Reduce Chris Wallace to frazzled Kindergarten teacher’ coming, but I fully expected Trump to dominate the night by attacking and interrupting and muttering and grimacing, all in place of any real policy discussions — which he clearly, woefully cannot do.
There was a president up on that stage but it wasn’t Donald Trump.
Trump loves the trappings, the power, the attention, the title, but when it comes to actual presidenting, that’s not his thing. (Remember during the campaign when he said he’d be choosing a veep who could run things since he’d be out there being Good Will Ambassador, rallying Americans to, I don’t know, be Americans? He was never going to take the job seriously.)
Joe Biden will make a far better president, and never was that more apparent than on Tuesday, when, for 90 minutes, Donald Trump couldn’t even play one, even after Joe showed him how to do it. Trump’s idea of presidential power is in building up his already gimongous ego, in demanding loyalty, in extracting revenge when he doesn’t get it. He’ll lie and deny and think he aced it. He’ll blame anyone but himself for the bad stuff but take full credit for anything good — even when it happened long before he was ‘president’.
Trump is a thug. Everything he does is thuggish and ugly. Except for his nail-biting sycophants and his dwindling MAGA followers, the country is sick to death of his antics. He’s done. He’s toast. But dammit, he’s still our problem. What are we going to do about him? It’s a question for justice now. Will he or won’t he get away with it?
As I watched him at what was supposed to pass for a debate, I saw a man who knows he’s already lost, and his performance, sickening as it was, took on new meaning. It was pathetic. A last hurrah. His empire is crumbling, he’s a laughing stock, there’s a chance he has put everyone around him, including his own children, in jeopardy by grabbing at power he never deserved, history will make mincemeat of him, and he’s furious.
That’s what we saw before us. We saw Trump’s raw fury on display, and he’s past caring. I’ve never seen anything like it. And, for the first time in months, I slept well. Come January 20, Donald Trump will no longer be president. He may still be our residual problem, but he’ll no longer have to power to hurt us.
That thought alone gives me peace.