The Trump-Biden Debate: Seeing around Corners

Finally, Republicans and Democrats have found something they can agree on: the Trump-Biden debate will go down in the record books as one of the most-watched disasters in presidential campaign history.

In horse racing, if a horse stumbles and falls, the medics go out and administer a numbing but lethal poison to put the creature out of its misery.

They don’t do that—yet—in presidential debates. But after last night’s debacle, there may be people who will start recommending the practice.

Once upon a time, way back in the Reagan era, politics could be, and was, quite civil. When President Reagan (who some of his detractors said was too old to serve a second term) debated his opponent, Senator Mondale (who was many years his junior), he joked that he would not hold the senator’s youth and inexperience against him. Even Mondale laughed.

Not anymore.

In the warfare of American electoral politics during this time of wokeness, the temptation is to grind the opponent into dust and then pray (where not prohibited by law) for a windstorm.

But not last night. President Biden was so incompetent that even crusty, hard-nosed Republican pols and operatives felt sorry for him—and even confessed that on national television.

Biden walked on to the stage with that old man’s gait Americans have by now probably gotten used to seeing: hesitant steps, both arms slightly in front, and stiff, not swinging. He is an old man, and he looks and moves like one.

At least he made it to the podium. Grading on a curve, that might have earned him a B.

But his performance went downhill from there. His voice was hoarse (“they” said afterward that he had a cold!); he seemed to stare vacantly out into space when he wasn’t answering a question—and sometimes even when he was. And when he wasn’t talking, his mouth was open slightly, another sign of old age.

But his performance went downhill from there (no, that’s not a typo). About thirteen minutes into the debate, he froze, sort of like when you’re watching a movie and the feed gets stuck. He lost his train of thought . . . and never recovered it.

That moment was, probably, the end of Joe Biden. Game Over.

Many will say it ended about twelve minutes before the freeze: it was apparent from the very beginning that the president was simply not up to the debate—and, obviously, if not up to a 90-minute debate, then certainly not up to being president of the United States and the leader of the “free world.”

Sad, in a way. But in a way, not. Pride, hubris, and not giving a fig for his country drove this old, incompetent man (with a history of lying and cheating) to run for president. And his allies, in the media and the academy, and wherever the woke gather, cheated and lied (e.g., about Russiagate and the Hunter Biden laptop) to make him president—and we should never forget that.

After Biden “answered” one of the questions, Trump said he didn’t know what Biden had said, and he doubted even that Biden knew what he’d said.

After the debate, some Trump fans praised Trump—but that’s what they would be expected to do. Trump stayed calm and in control. No smirks. Quite presidential. On numerous occasions, instead of answering the question posed, he went back to the answer Biden had just given to correct the record.

What was missing from some of Trump’s answers was specificity. He has the goods; he just didn’t display them. Against a different opponent, that could be telling.

But with Joe Biden as the opponent, it just didn’t matter. The game was over almost before it began, which lends credence to those who claimed that Biden challenged Trump to the debate in a fit of recklessness, assuming that Trump would chicken out and could be made to look cowardly or like a bombastic fool.

Not Trump. He doesn’t do chickening out.

But maybe he should have, this time, because even during the debate, right from the beginning, Democrats were texting each other that Biden had to go. It was that bad.

Just how they depose him is not clear yet, because of the Kamala Harris problem—she is even less competent (if it’s possible) than Biden, though in a different way. Probably, they wait until the convention, when they can nominate a different ticket.

And that’s the problem for Trump. What happens if the Democrats nominate a centrist, moderate Democrat, if there is such an animal? That could be a problem, notwithstanding the candidate would have only a few weeks to present himself to the American people.

Probably Trump would have been better off refusing to debate. He could have found a plausible excuse that would have satisfied his fans.

For a while, Trump will have no one to campaign against. And when the Democrats do pick someone, he will be “new” and “exciting,” and the media will fawn over him, and Trump will be so yesterday and almost certainly older, perhaps much older than the new opponent.

Did Trump win this skirmish? There is no question that he did—no question at all. But by doing so, he may have lost the game.

Was that predictable? Trump’s the guy who’s supposed to be able to see around corners.

Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.

Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.

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About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.

Photo: ATLANTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES - JUNE 27: President of the United States Joe Biden and Former President Donald Trump participate in the first Presidential Debate at CNN Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on June 27, 2024. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. A couple of thoughts about Mr. Oliver’s article. First, while I suppose it might be technically possible to replace Biden, doing so will be fraught with political and technical difficulties.

    As I understand it, the bylaws for the DNC do allow for a substitution of the nominee, but only after the convention, which is in August. That leaves precious little time to present the new nominee to the public. The other problem is replacing the new nominee on all 50 state ballots, which could be quite problematic.

    But assuming those two hurdles can be accomplished, there’s also the problem of Kama Sutra, who’s stupidity is only exceeded by her ambition. Although I have no doubt the mandarins of the Democrat party are feverishly developing an exit package/strategy for her, the sticky wicket is whether she will accept–even if its an offer she can’t refuse.

    My last thought is that regardless of who the Democrats choose, if the American people cannot see the manifest difference between the administration of PDJT and the horrendous reign of Joe Biden, then the American people deserve to get the government they vote for–good and hard.

    Of course, I have not included the wild card of massive, industrial-scale election fraud by the Democrats, but I assume that will be a given.

  2. Yep. I’ve been on multiple forums—both late last night and early this morning echoing much the same sentiment. At 129 days out, that leaves precious little time to rally the Democrat machine. If they must wait until the Convention, that leaves only 75 days. I think they are stuck with Biden and the election will be about electing Kamala by default.

  3. I think the Democratic Party is going to get it good and hard. The American people are not stupid, and they are sick and tired.

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