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WASHINGTON: The United States embarrassed itself before the world for nearly 100 minutes with a “Presidential debate” that was akin to mud-wrestling.
Incumbent President Donald Trump walked all over the Democratic challenger Joe Biden with frequent, hectoring interruptions that often left the latter befuddled.
But Trump was not necessarily the winner; nor Biden the loser. It would be fair to say both men lost. America lost.
Biden did his best to put together a coherent answers to questions about the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, the conduct of elections and other topics, but faced with Trump’s incessant interruptions, he lost composure more than once, calling Trump among other things “a clown” and once telling him “will you shut up, man?”
The host, Fox News’ Chris Wallace was also a victim of Trump’s bullying and lost control of proceedings several times, allowing the President to hog airtime.
The major take out from the debate was dire: Trump essentially reaffirmed that he will not accept the results of the elections if it goes against him when all ballots are counted.
“This is not going to end well,” he said ominously.
In Trump’s view all unsolicited mail-in ballots are subject to fraud, and election results should be declared on Election Day, November 3. Millions of voters, perhaps up to and beyond 50 per cent, are expect to vote via mail-in ballots in the2020 elections because of Covid -19 fears.
Offered a chance by the moderator to say he will accept the election results whichever way it goes when all ballots are counted, Trump launched into a tirade about the US election system and denigrated the whole process, picking on stray instances of fraud or misdemeanor that experts say aberrations, not the norm.
Trump also shrugged off questions about his alleged tax shenanigans, including paying only $ 750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017, crediting the tax code created by the Obama-Biden administration for his ability to outsmart the system and muttering all business leaders do the same “unless they are stupid.”
Biden however called Trump a racist when the President sought to defend his decision to end racial sensitivity training for federal workers, with Trump arguing that such instruction were resulting in “very sick ideas” and teaching people “to hate our country.”
“If you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas. It really, they were teaching people to hate our country. And I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to allow that to happen. We have to go back to the core values of this country,” Trump said.
Biden did not get a chance – or did not seize one – to explain why he thought Trump was a racist. In fact, he repeatedly failed to – or chose not to – land a knockout punch, preferring instead to try and articulate steady, coherent answers, but Trump have him no chance with a flurry of interruptions designed to derail thinking.
The US President even attacked the Biden family’s military service without receiving a reminder from Biden about Trump’s family record vis a vis military service.
Even as the so-called debate was going on, a collective groan went across the country – on social media and beyond – about two more such debates in October filled with puerile antics, petty insults, and pathetic articulation. Commentators across the spectrum trashed the performance, agreeing almost uniformly that America stands embarrassed.
“This is the worse presidential debate I have ever seen,” said ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, who has moderated Presidential debates.

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