Flashback: The First Trump-Biden Debate Was a Debacle For the Ages

Joel Eisenberg

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The first Donald Trump and Joseph Biden debate was an abject disaster. But did Biden make an impression during that September 29, 2020 debate, despite Trump’s abusive behavior? Or did he recover and win the debate on his merits?

In hindsight, Trump acted every bit the bully, as expected, and Biden came across as a fundamentally decent man blown off his game.

The former Vice-President was consistently interrupted and otherwise disrespected, but politics can be an abusive business.

We asked ourselves questions: If anyone publicly shamed my family like Trump did to Beau and Hunter, could I have held back so gracefully? Would Biden be an effective President in the quagmire?

The answer to those questions could not be answered based on this Cleveland, Ohio shout-fest, as moderated by journalist Chris Wallace. It was a circus, in any other words.

Through it all, however, Biden had somehow managed to get across some valuable points. And ... he was still standing at the end.

To a Trumpian point in return, for example, a response about asking white supremacists to stand down?

“Proud Boys,” Trump said. “Stand down … but stand by.”

Score one for Biden, who implored the President to advise white terrorist groups to do the former … but Trump could not let it end there.

Some of us criticized Biden too during the debate, expressing a need for him to end the constant smiling when he became frustrated, and to show a visibly tougher exterior the next time out to convince those on the fence to be at peace with a decision.

The following debate, following the October 15 cancellation on the part of Trump, was held on October 22 and for the most part was a staid affair.

In the end Joseph Robinette Biden was, of course, elected as the 46th President of the United States, and another argument -- the age argument -- has to now been a non-entity. Biden has shown he is highly capable and he maintains a solid team at his side, beginning with VP Kamala Harris.

But regarding debates ... the next time moderators do need to cut mics as necessary.

Hopefully we can consider that not-so-hallowed day an exception and truly move on.

Can we indeed maintain decency in such discourse, or has the system been forever broken?

We will know soon enough. We will know in 2024.

Trepidation seeps ...

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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