The Debate, Or Whatever That Was, And That Old Familiar Feeling

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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46 Responses

  1. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    Yep. Donald John Trump has no depth. He plays no 3 D chess. He’s a bombastic blowhard bully. He was last night. He was when he was elected. 27% of voters loved it enough to vote for him in all the right geographic places last time.

    Joe Biden is also distilled to his truest self. He can’t imagine a world in which a blowhard bully becomes President, and despite his immense emotional strength as a person, he can’t figure out how to stand up to the bully because he can’t grasp the bully. Like too many Democrats he’s fighting the last war, not the war he’s actually in.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    I didn’t need to watch the debate to know it was going to be that way.

    And I didn’t bother watching the debate because I knew it would in no way present me with information I did not have already.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    We have all sat through meetings with the asshole who knows little but insists on talking over everyone. The problem with such people is that it is more important to them that they win than that the project succeed. I’m sure there are lots of people who thought of Trump’s performance last night as an example of strong, forceful leadership.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      These are the people who thought Biff Tannen was the hero of Back To The Future.Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      Sometimes I think the biggest reason the political establishment and media struggle so much with Trump is lack of time spent in little corporate meetings and board rooms. There was a Matt Taibbi essay touching on this a couple weeks ago I thought was insightful.

      In case anyone is interested:

      https://taibbi.substack.com/p/tape-shows-ethically-cnn-chief-aReport

    • Avatar Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      Years ago I had a boss like that. No matter what you said, he did it bigger, better, and larger. I always thought that was a sign that he had no idea what was going on. Well, I eventually had his job and realized that I was the one who didn’t understand what the job entailed and that I had mistaken A-holish behavior for incompetence. When the reality was he was quite competent in things I didn’t initially know, while still being an A-hole.

      ETA; its the sales-management-engineer problem. Everyone in that triangle thinks they have all the answers, but it takes all three to deliver a quality product, on time, that people want to buy.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        I had mistaken A-holish behavior for incompetence.

        We, as a society, tend to mistake A-hole behavior for competence an awful lot*. So you weren’t necessarily wrong for using that stereotype (that A-holes are incompetent and use their behavior as a cover), because there is a lot of truth to it.

        *With the reality being that the people under them are very competent, but so afraid or beaten down so much by the A-hole that they cover the gaps, with the credit going to A-hole (who never shares the credit).Report

      • Avatar Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        Point of order – this is a fairly common problem in government too. And we lack the profit motive to drive it.Report

  4. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Well done, I think you put your finger on it.Report

  5. Avatar Doctor Jay
    Ignored
    says:

    I really liked the story about the water truck, and the piece overall.

    I totally get what you mean about “true self”, even though I don’t believe such a thing exists. People have habits, though. And sometimes they refuse to give up those habits and change, even when the habits are bad for them. Even when it’s obvious.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      If you have a bad habit that is obviously bad, and causes you problems, and you refuse to change that habit(s), how is that not a reflection of your true self?Report

      • Avatar Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        In this case the President doesn’t see his habits as causing problems for himself and thus not bad. And he’s never been shy about his true self.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay
        Ignored
        says:

        And sometimes people eventually do confront and change the bad habit. Even after years, or decades. It often takes “hitting rock bottom”, and the hope is that rock bottom doesn’t kill them.

        This is a thing that happens to lots of people, including people I love, and I prefer to leave that avenue open.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          That just says that the true self is not fixed, which is obvious.

          The true self is what you have when all care and pretense is stripped away. For the gent in the story (I’ve known guys like this back in the Navy), his lazy and careless habits finally caught up to him.

          That doesn’t mean that he can’t decide to actively work to change those habits and alter his true self.Report

      • Avatar Pinky
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t know if this is what Doctor Jay meant, but I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about becoming “your best self” or “your worst self”. I’ve been awful in about a dozen different ways, some of them contradictory. I think I was terrible three different ways this morning. Likewise with respect to virtue. In matters of talent, I have a few that I’ve tried to develop, but I could have gone several different ways with them.

        I don’t think one’s “true self” is like a Gumby toy that returns to its normal shape at rest. It’s more like a lump of clay that each of us is constantly molding.

        ETA: If yesterday’s debate helped voters to clarify their image of both (actually, all three) people, should it be considered a success?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          Like I said, the true self is not fixed, but it also doesn’t change quickly once past adolescence, and certainly not without effort.

          But we can put up a facade that alters the appearance of who we really are at a given point in time. Saying that “His true self finally metastasized.” is merely a way of saying that the facade has fallen away.

          For Trump, there was never really much of a facade to begin with.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling
            Ignored
            says:

            I’m not saying that Trump isn’t an asshole, because that would be foolish, but I think thy level of assholery was a tactic to try to provoke a wring reaction from Biden. It also forced Wallace into needing to actively shut Trump down, so Trump could later claim bias. (This is now the party line.)Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              Trump: I’m going to be a complete bastard to every media figure that does not bury their nose so far up my ass they can see the back of my teeth.

              Also Trump: Everyone in the media hates me! It’s bias against me!Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Gallup: Americans distrustful of media.

                Percentage of Americans who have a “great deal of trust” in the media in 2020:
                Republicans: 3%
                Independents: 6%
                Democrats: 16%

                “A fair amount of trust”
                Republicans: 7%
                Independents: 30%
                Democrats: 57%

                “Not very much”
                Republicans: 31%
                Independents: 29%
                Democrats: 21%

                “None at all”
                Republicans: 58%
                Independents: 35%
                Democrats: 6%

                And the trust trend is down, down, down.

                The divergence opened under Bush, then wildly accelerated when Trump decided to run and the media went full-bore partisan, arguing that the stakes were too high to remain neutral. People noticed that the anchors and reporters had become mindless shills.

                The media did this entirely to themselves.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Pretty sure that Trump had media figures friendly to him at the start of his term, but he shat all over those who were friendly.

                I mean, there is a difference in saying, “I was nothing but decent and respectful to the WH Press Corps and mainstream media figures, yet they remain biased against me.”; and actively and gleefully attacking the media like it’s a pinata, then complaining about the bias.Report

              • Avatar Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Any President who calls the media enemies of the state should expect to see them try to tank him. If his supporters don’t grok that I have little help or hope for them.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                He was calling them enemies of the state because that’s how they started acting as soon as the state wasn’t Obama.

                Prior to that, they were just the propaganda arm of the DNC. This has been going on for a long, long time, and vastly predates Trump.Report

              • Avatar Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Trump is not the state. He’s a cowardly, narcissistic bully. But he’s not the state.

                But good to know you support authoritarianism and its arrival on our shores.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Very true. Trump is not the state. The “state” is apparently the deep state, the Democrats in the highest reaches of government who tried to rig the 2016 election, with help from Russian intelligence and directed from the Oval Office, and the media who gleefully helped them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Anyone who speaks of “the media”, as if Fox News and MSNBC are the same shouldn’t be taken seriously.Report

  6. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    From the Debate Commission this morning:

    The Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate. Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues. The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly. The Commission is grateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night’s debate and intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates.

    I suspect there aren’t going to be any more debates this year.Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      They should wheel Trump in Hannibal Lecter style with a muzzle. His supporters would love it ans Biden could talk for 30 straight seconds.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      “I suspect there aren’t going to be any more debates this year.”

      If this turns out to be correct, and taking Marchmains interpretations of his wife’s thoughts, I will revise my opinion and say that Trump won the debate.Report

      • Avatar InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        I could see that going either way. To the extent the performances are embarrassing getting out of them is a win. However to the extent they pump up his fan base via high profile thumbing of his nose, ‘saying things that need to be said’, it could be a loss.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David
          Ignored
          says:

          One of the things that kept going through my mind in ’16 was that the media no longer knew what the real messaging was, and that was the reason that they missed so much. That idea is getting stronger by the day.

          Because if Trump was just fishing for sound bites and dank memes, along with feeding his followers anger, he won hands down. Biden got none of that. Which leaves us wondering if that is the currency of the day.Report

          • Avatar InMD
            Ignored
            says:

            You certainly can’t discount that possibility. I think anyone on team D treating a Biden win as a foregone conclusion is tempting fate. But he also isn’t up against HRC and all her baggage this time. The schtick was enough to beat her (not to mention the vampires in the 2016 GOP primary) but even winners make halftime adjustments, and I’m not seeing any.

            More importantly he owns things in a way he didn’t before. My opinion is the odds are still against him for normie reasons that no meme or soundbyte pwn is going to address. Just a few weeks and we will see.Report

      • Avatar Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        I think the President did what he set out to do – display his bullying, fighting strongman for his base. He’s apparently thrilled about his performance, though even Fox News is trying to get him to do something differently next time. Is that a “win?” Yeah for him and his base it probably is. For the nation – not so much.Report

    • Avatar George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      Chris Wallace didn’t bring an ounce of professionalism. He stoked what was going on, then shut Trump down 35 times for interrupting, never shut Biden down for interrupting, but repeatedly saved Biden by “moving on to a different subject” whenever Biden was at a total loss or going off the rails.

      Babylon Bee: Chris Wallace mods debate while wearing giant foam Biden 2020 finger

      Another common take, even from Trump, was that Trump was debating Chris Wallace, and Joe Biden was just a bystander. Heck, just watch Trump and Wallace go round and round on climate change. Wallace apparently thought he was there to do a hard-hitting Trump interview.

      Lester Hold or Brett Baier would never have done anything like that.Report

  7. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    Does anyone really believe that a vote for Biden actually means he’ll server more than a token period before he has to leave office? I don’t. I think a vote for Biden is a vote for his running mate for pres.Report

  8. Avatar Dark Matter
    Ignored
    says:

    I listened to the first half on the radio and the 2nd half sporadically. I have never heard either of them talk before.

    Both of them came off as a lot higher functioning than I was expecting. I didn’t see any reason to think diminished capacity in either. They had a basic grasp of what was going on, their roles in it, comprehension of individual questions. Both did the normal politician thing of ignoring things they didn’t like and putting a lot of spin on other things.

    Trump certainly has issues with boundaries and playing nice and sharing time, but that seemed more of a style thing than anything else. I.e. yes, he’s a combative verbal bully and ass. I was already ignoring the utter lack of decorum that he brings to everything so whatever.

    For Biden… there were a lot more non-answers than answers. He doesn’t want to tie himself down to anything specific because specific things are reasons for specific people to vote against him. Without Covid I don’t think there’s a chance he would win.

    For Trump… I was surprised at how good he is at this. My impression is that he was better during the first half than the second and the mod wrapped him on the knuckles several times then so maybe I missed the worst of the worst.Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    I would change Michael Cain’s description to blowhard in the bar. As far as I can tell, most people seem to think Biden did as well as he could under the circumstances and reacted to Trump adverserly. Claimants to the otherwise are hardcore partisans, Proud Boys chomping at the bit to become Freikorps, and the bad faith, miscreant trolls who enable them because “eww Democrats and liberals are icky. 4chan 4eva”

    But even if Trump loses, there are plenty of Americans who seem to exist in permanent blowhard in the bar mode, always ready to explode like Lee J. Cobb’s character from 12 Angry Men, and seemingly filled with never ending resentment after resentment.Report

  10. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    I think I understand now. Not why it works, but how it works. The first debate, Trump says every possible thing. Everything. Over the next week, he sees how each thing plays: with the press, with his audiences, with his opponents. By the second and third debates, he’s down to about five things he says and says and says. He’ll be just as crazy, but he’ll be tighter. The press will go off on their tangents, and they’ll all conclude he lost every one of them and in unrelated news (because how could it be related?) he’s still losing but polling tighter. I hate his style, and maybe he won’t be able to repeat it, but this feels exactly where we’ve been before. Maybe it’s a Dada-esque variant on contract negotiation. First session, concede nothing, second session target what gets under the other guy’s skin, third session close.Report

    • Avatar George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, apparently all Trump really had to do was get Biden to go off on “white supremacists”. Now Biden and his campaign getting sued by Kyle Rittenhouse for slander and defamation for saying he was a white supremacist militiaman. Kyle is using the same lawyer who won untold millions for Nick Sandman, so remember, all your Biden donations will probably go to Kyle Rittenhouse, American hero. 🙂

      So much winning!Report

  11. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    And Donald and Melania have just tested positive for Covid….Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      Hope Hicks reveals herself as a deep state assassin, the turncoat scum. Couldn’t get to him through his Big Macs so they resorted to this.Report

  1. October 6, 2020

    […] pretty steady as, and the truth is, for all the thunder and roar of a crazy campaign season, and whatever that mess of a debate was, nothing much has changed at all numbers wise in the key swing […]Report

  2. October 8, 2020

    […] while watching them. Breaking down the ins and outs of this debate, far more traditional than last weeks goat rope of an affair by these running mates’ principals, but that’s of limited meaning and returns. Not even […]Report

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