Hello, I am a political pundit who just watched the final presidential debate before the November election, and I would like to share with you my expert analysis of President Donald Trump’s performance.
Overall, the president did well Thursday night, in that he did not projectile vomit on former Vice President Joe Biden or unleash a swarm of murder hornets on moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News.
Trump was able to speak in sentences that were audible and occasionally complete, and in an obvious nod to swing-state voters, he at no point poured gasoline on the stage, lit a match and ran away shouting, “Burn, you (expletives), I’ll see you in (expletive)!”
Demonstrating a striking change in tone from the first presidential debate, Trump did not come across as a writhing, angry body inhabited by the spirit of Charles Manson. Instead, he took on the more affable demeanor of a writhing, angry body inhabited by the spirit of Charles Manson on a day when Manson didn’t interrupt people quite so much.
Granted, when asked about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic at a time when cases are surging in most states in the country, Trump said: “We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”
But any criticism of that statement should take into account the indisputable fact that, as he was speaking, the president did not pull a baseball bat from under his podium and start assaulting baby ducks. Fairness demands I award that round to Trump.
When the moderator turned to the subject of immigration, one could argue Trump would have been better lighting his hair on fire and running into the sea. But that would be an unfair assessment, because the debate was held in Nashville and the nearest ocean is about a seven-hour drive away.
Welker brought up the gut-wrenching fact that more than 500 children who were separated from their parents at the border under Trump’s own policy still haven’t been reunited.
On the one hand, that’s an unspeakably cruel act, a stain on the fabric of America that will never wash out. On the other hand, Trump cleverly avoided showing a lick of compassion and said this: “Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people. Cartels. And they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country.”
That is a strong response. It is factually incorrect, willfully misleading and generally gross, but definitely strong. So again, it’s hard to argue that this hurts the president, at least among voters who enjoy the idea of children being terrorized by the U.S. government.
Trump also said that only immigrants “with the lowest IQ” show up to asylum hearings. To the untrained ear, that may sound wildly insulting and transparently racist, the kind of thought that could only wriggle out from an emotionless mind that views life as an unending series of transactions. But it’s worth noting that it is also a lie. So…well, anyway, let’s get to the next topic.
Health care! This is where the president really shined, because he said he absolutely wants to see Obamacare struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, something that would take health care away from about 20 million Americans in the midst of a global pandemic. Now that may sound bad, but the president made clear he has a plan that he won’t explain to you.
“I’d like to terminate Obamacare and come up with a brand-new beautiful health care,” Trump said.
OK, that sounds a bit vague, particularly since Trump has been promising this beautiful plan for four years, but the president swiftly redeemed himself by saying: “The Democrats will do it because there will be tremendous pressure on them, and we might even have the House by that time, and I think we’re going to win the House, OK?”
Sure, that might sound like a sentence created by an random-word generator dissatisfied with its lot in life. Or the ramblings of a person who fell down the stairs a few too many times. But as Trump spoke, he did not murder a single busload of nuns, so his commitment to the health of all Americans was clear.
In conclusion, Trump lied so much that 27 fact checkers had to be hospitalized, he insulted immigrants, he declared to a Black moderator that he was “the least racist person in the room,” he shrugged off children orphaned by his own administration’s policies and he parroted a slew of hackneyed conspiracy theories about Biden and his family that only make sense if you run a chapter of the Sean Hannity Fan Club.
But, importantly, President Trump did not, at any point, drop his pants and run across the stage screaming “BENGHAZI!!!” while injecting bleach into his arm. So you have to give credit where credit is due.
Bottom line: The debate was a clear victory for Trump. Something he and his supporters knew well before the whole thing started.