After the First Presidential Debate, Do We Really Need Any Others?

By John Zmirak Published on September 30, 2020

Well, that was uneventful. We learned almost nothing from the first presidential debate. We did see the fundamental, irreconcilable bitterness of two halves of the country, each of which thinks the other is a pack of deluded zealots enabling murderers. So there’s that.

I won’t rehearse the opportunities President Trump missed. Nobody’s perfect. If I’d been up there, I would have seized some of those chances, and missed some others. I might have made mistakes that he avoided. Nor will I complain about something that was perfectly predictable. Namely that Chris Wallace, attuned to his future career, would tilt a bit toward Biden. That when Trump was nailing Biden to the wall effectively, Wallace would interrupt and talk over him. We had to expect that.

“I’m Not in Public Office.” “I AM the Democratic Party.”

On the other hand, on a few issues Wallace held Biden’s feet to the fire, especially on Biden’s refusal to intervene and stop the riots. We all know that a phone call from Joe Biden to Democrat mayors in Seattle, Portland, or Minneapolis would have seen them sending out SWAT teams to shut down Antifa and Black Lives Matter urban terrorists. That would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, and thousands of family businesses.

But Biden didn’t do it. He claimed, pathetically lamely, “I’m not in public office.” This from the same man who forty minutes before said, “I AM the Democratic Party.”

We can’t count on Biden drooling into the microphone and electrocuting himself.

Biden lied outrageously several times. For instance, when he said that his son never got money from Russian oligarchs. Trump called him out on that, despite Wallace running interference.

And then Biden claimed that Trump referred to white supremacists as “very fine people.” Every informed, honest person knows perfectly well that Trump specifically and repeatedly disavowed white nationalists. He just refused to throw under the bus the ordinary patriots present who wanted to defend historic monuments. (Check the transcript.)

That’s on a tiny scale, compared to countless Democrats and media figures pretending that violent rioters who’ve afflicted America for months are “mostly peaceful protesters.”

David Against Goliath

I don’t envy Trump, who’s roughly in the position of Lech Walesa in 1977 — trying to speak up for the forgotten man and woman, in the face of a massively biased, dishonest, shameless media.

I honestly wonder if Communist-run TV stations in Eastern Europe were quite as nakedly partisan as most U.S. networks and social media platforms are today. At least in those countries most people knew that their media were merely sock puppets for the Party. In the U.S., we haven’t quite woken up to totalitarian methods. If Biden wins in November, we’ll have the bitter chance to learn fast.

The one thing we did learn last night that was important: When it counts, Biden can be roused, doped, or coached to sound like his old self. We can’t count on him drooling into the microphone and electrocuting himself — or zapping his candidacy. This is, in many respects, the old Joe Biden whom we remember.

Biden’s Still Biden

And that’s who Trump needs to run against. Biden is not the broken pitiable shell of a man he sometimes appears to be in “gaffe clips.” Instead, he’s what he always was: A shallow, unprincipled opportunist desperate to put one more participation trophy on his mantlepiece, and willing to sell out anyone or anything to get it. The same man who plagiarized other men’s autobiographies, stealing their painful pasts as children of coal miners.

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He falsely accused an innocent driver of being drunk, when Biden’s wife crashed into him and died. And stole another man’s wife not long after that. He mentored with white segregationists when that was convenient, and said he didn’t want his kids to go to school in a “racial jungle.” He helped his family members rake in millions from foreign governments and corporations trying to buy influence.

A Chameleon, Hungry for Money and Power

Joe Biden is Silly Putty, which picks up whatever’s in the newspaper you put it down on. In the 90s, he was a moderate Democrat. When Obama threw him a lifeline from utter obscurity after multiple, farcical presidential candidacies, Biden reinvented himself as a progressive. But not a socialist, like Bernie Sanders.

In the 2020 race, Biden presented himself as the face of the center-left. Once Black Lives Matter and Antifa started tearing up our streets, he refused to criticize them. He let his vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris say that the riots were good and healthy, and ought to continue.

Biden preens as a “devout Catholic,” but one who performs same-sex marriages and supports infanticide. Boy, I’d hate to see what a bad Catholic is like.

Fighting for Nineveh

From now on Trump must recalibrate. The next debates? I don’t care if we even have them. Anyone with principles and prudence has already chosen between the candidates. Now we’re fighting over the millions of rudderless and clueless. Those who don’t know their right hands from their lefts. And I don’t think debates will sway them.

President Trump must hammer home at every opportunity the close links Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have to the rabid, bloodthirsty left that’s burning American cities.

He must remind voters that Joe Biden wanted to leave our country open to thousands of infected travelers from China, for fear of “xenophobia,” even as his son Hunter spent the millions he got from the Chinese Communist party.

Trump needs to smash at every opportunity the thin patina of normalcy and moderation that Biden retains from decades of living without any principles or a conscience, devoted above all to comfort and self-advancement.

Biden Appeals to Our National Vice: Complacency

Because that’s the great temptation most of us Americans struggle with. We’ve had peace and plenty so long we assume it’s the state of nature. We’re prone to dishonest arguments like Biden’s, that Trump is fomenting “division.” No, Trump is revealing division, in a way that hacks like John McCain and Mitt Romney never would. That makes people uncomfortable. It tempts them to stir in their easy chairs and change the channel.

Of course, as we saw in Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Kenosha, and countless other cities, our recliner sits in quicksand. Our living room is on fire. And the power-hungry zealots are marching into our neighborhoods. Do we want to see the police defunded, reduced to collecting firearms from compliant, timid citizens, while BLM rules the streets? That’s the question Trump needs to pose to American voters, day after day after day. 

In that sense, Donald Trump has found himself, despite himself, cast as Jonah in Nineveh. That’s the hopeful scenario of course. The November election will tell us if instead he is Lot in Sodom, trying vainly to negotiate with the insatiable and the unspeakable. 


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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