Did you see that ludicrous display last night? (Thoughts?)


Major national newspapers — I’m thinking here of The Washington Post and The New York Times, since I subscribe to them and read them every day — have to go way out of their way to find opinion writers who will defend Donald Trump. No established, accomplished writer with a reputation — whether on the left or right — will do that, so they’ve had to dig.

For instance, the Post enlisted this guy who made news in 2016 when his little paper actually endorsed the guy. So they’ve been running columns by him ever since. And we’ve also gotten used to the Trumpist stylings of former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen. We sort of knew who he was before, but he’s gotten a lot more play since the disaster that befell our nation four years ago. The State, which is also desperate to find people who will say such things, has run him a good bit.

I had not heard of the Chris Buskirk guy who was the only person the NYT could find who might applaud Trump’s behavior last night — behavior that would cause a 4-year-old to be sent to stand in the corner in preschool. He is described as “the editor and publisher of the journal American Greatness and a contributing opinion writer.” That’s from the NYT; he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page or anything. Anyway, mission accomplished! They got somebody to occupy the right-hand side of that chart.

You’ll note that the only one of the NYT’s most prominent conservatives who participated — Ross Douthat — is over in the middle of the “Biden won” crowd. No actual thinking conservative can stand up for Trump’s increasingly more outrageous boorishness. You have to go hunting for relative unknowns. Preferably ones who are hungry, I would guess.

Anyway, I have nothing to add about that ludicrous display last night, except to thank Joe Biden for standing there for all that time rather than walking out — which is probably what I would have done, and which would not have helped my electoral chances.

I cannot believe there will be two more of these. There must be a way that our country can be spared that. As I’ve said so many times before, if only we could just vote today and have an end to all this!

If you want to know what I had to say when I was forcing myself to watch last night, here’s my Twitter feed.

Other than that, if you have thoughts to add, please go ahead…


36 thoughts on “Did you see that ludicrous display last night? (Thoughts?)

  1. bud

    Well, in many states you CAN vote today. Biden should not participate in any more of these farces unless there is a microphone cutoff feature. This was a disaster for our country. But you know who deserves much of the blame? The false equivalency crowd. I’m even hearing some of that today. Things like – the debate got out of hand when the candidates kept interrupting. Really? There was only one person to blame. How can there still be undecided voters? Sad day for America.

  2. Dave Crockett

    I agree about the need for a moderator-controlled mike switch.

    The first thing I did today was scan foxnews.com and cnn.com to compare their takes. I was surprised to find that many of the Fox analyses were far more lenient on Biden than I would have expected. And there were precious few full-throated attaboys for Trump. And CNN, well, I could find only one weakly positive review for Trump.

    I think the consensus is that the event was a train wreck…it didn’t change any minds among those already set on their vote…and probably didn’t move the needle much among the half dozen or so folks in the country who ARE truly undecided.

    I will be interested to see how the Pence-Harris meeting shakes out.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m really not all that interested in the veep thing, although I suppose I’ll watch.

      The last veep debate I looked forward to was Biden vs. Palin…

    2. Barry

      Fox News has spent a lot of time today whining and crying about Biden not answering the Supreme Court and filibuster questions. Biden played it perfectly. No reason to answer that question.

      That tells me even Fox and their republican guests think Biden will win and the Senate will be Democrat led.

  3. Randle

    The next debate is a town hall. I would not expect Trump to interrupt questioners or Biden answering them (well, maybe he would interrupt Biden, but that would or should anger voters), so yes to debates. I would like to see Biden clarify a few things, hammer home his positions and deliver a more forceful performance. And canceling could look like weakness; the GOP would certainly play it that way.
    I read Thiessen today. He is such a tool.

  4. David L Carlton

    So, Brad, you don’t consider Bret Stephens “one of the NYT’s most prominent conservatives”? Pete Wehner? Liz Mair isn’t prominent, but she’s been a GOP strategist for years. And I think Linda Chavez is still a Republican, albeit one utterly disgusted by the GOP’s anti-immigrant turn.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, I slipped up on one of those. I didn’t notice Stephens there. I would certainly consider him to be every bit as prominent as Douthat.

      I certainly didn’t mean to slight him. I think he’s one of the best. And yes, in my mind, he and Douthat and David Brooks count as the “most prominent.” Although I don’t really consider Brooks to be “conservative” so much as communitarian — which is why I agree with him so often. But others use “conservative” to describe him. Or at least, “center-right.”

      Neither Wehner nor Mair seem all that prominent to me. And I’ve vaguely familiar with Chavez, but she’s not quite top of mind (of my mind, anyway) the way Douthat and Stephens are…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The most familiar ones to me are the ones described this way at the bottom: “Jamelle Bouie, Gail Collins, Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and Bret Stephens are Times columnists.”

  5. Bill

    “Brooks’ main identifying trait as a “thinker” has always been that he maintained the same bland pretense of evenhandedness no matter what he was discussing—a trait well-adapted, perhaps, to a world we could at least pretend was sane. The zeitgeist has shifted, and that world no longer exists.”

        1. Barry

          Folks like David brooks look at people in that manner – folks with degrees and folks without. Pathetic.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I threatened to quit watching:

      But I hung in there. My man Joe couldn’t leave, so I didn’t. As I disclosed later:

      And to update y’all:

      I still don’t know where the blasted slippers are…

      1. Ken

        I felt degraded just being a spectator to it.
        And I have to say, I was sorry to see Biden let himself be dragged down at times to the debased level his opponent operates on. There were more dignified ways to handle it. Such as: simply shake his head and ask the audience whether this is the kind of behavior they are willing to tolerate from a president.

        1. Barry

          Agree. Biden was undisciplined because you know as well as I do his advisers repeatedly told him to let trump be trump and not argue with him into the gutter. Don’t interrupt Trump. Give him every second of his allotted time. When it’s Biden’s turn, answer the question asked in full and if trump interrupts just keep talking until your answer is complete.

          Ignore trump. Ignore everything he says. Refuse to even acknowledge he is on stage Look into the camera and address the people on every question.

          It’s not difficult if he practices.

          About court packing, say “I have no plans now but a president would be wrong to commit to tying his hands behind his back with regards to his ability to appoint qualified people to the court. .” There aren’t 30 people that are voting because they are concerned about packing the court.

          He will be fine if he follows that advice.

  6. Barry

    Didn’t watch even a second of it. I watched Gomer Pyle, and green acres on MeTv, then a caught Hogan’s Heroes. Much better tv, and more intellectually honest.

    Debates are irrelevant. I’m just waiting on my absentee ballot to arrive. Decisions made months ago.

    Straight party Democrat for first time.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Me, too.

      Except I will never, ever, to my dying day, actually do the straight-party lever or button or whatever.

      I’ll vote for each candidate, one at a time. But as far as I can tell, in the partisan races (as opposed to, say, school board), all my individual picks will be Democrats.

      And I don’t remember when that has happened before…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Of course, that’s just four Democrats: Joe, Jaime, Adair and Nikki. That’s all the contested partisan races on my ballot. In all the others — eight of them — the Republican is unopposed…

  7. bud

    I will enthusiastically pull the straight party lever for the Democratic Party. This really is about party not individuals anymore. Not that the Dems are perfect. Far from it, after all they did pick Joe Biden to head the ticket. But they’re our only hope and we must support them broadly as a party to fight the growing tyranny of the GOP. The Republican Party and not just Trump is an existential to the existence of this once great country. I don’t understand how people don’t see the serious threat this party poses?

  8. Doug T

    Oh geez the straight ticket thing again.

    Candidates are Republican for a reason.
    Candidates are Democrat for a reason.

    I will always vote Democrat for those reasons.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, Doug T, maybe that works for you. I know there are serious, thoughtful people out there who actually DO agree with everything one party believes and disagree with everything about the other.

      That seems impossible to me, but I know it isn’t.

      All I can tell you is that it has never worked for me.

      And this: Even if you’re totally on board with one party or the other, there are going to be people on the ballot running under YOUR party’s banner who don’t live up to those ideals. And there are going to be people running under the other party’s banner who — if you didn’t know about that affiliation — you would like better that the jerk running under your own party’s.

      That’s real life. That’s the way human beings are.

      And because of that, each of us has the obligation as a voter to fairly consider each and ever person on the ballot before voting. To make individual decisions in each race, based on the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

      I’ve been agonizing over each and every candidate my whole life, and I just can’t see it as right for anyone to take shortcuts…

      1. bud

        So you would vote for a Nazi who exhibits good character? Not sure why this is so difficult to understand. Right now I’d have to vote for Alvin Greene over a candidate who identifies as a Republican. The GOP has become that deplorable.

  9. Kathleen

    Surely I am not the only female watcher who heard Trump speaking the language of a four flushing creep courting a naive woman. He is a man in his 70s with a long history of shady, at best, business practices which were well reported before his foray into politics. He has a previous campaign and almost a full term in office. Yet, he extolls his superior intellect, exaggerates the immediacy and certainty of potential/probable successes,(vaccine creation and distribution), and claims nonexistent or dubious victories(pandemic). He brags about recent activities, hoping no one will remember that he promised something better(comprehensive plan to replace Obama Care) . There are very few women who haven’t observed behavior of this variety even if they haven’t experienced it personally.

    1. Ken

      If that was courtship we saw, I’d certainly hate to see what abuse looks like.

      Then again, we’ve been through 3+ years of it. So I guess they’re one and the same.

      1. Randle

        I know I’m feeling a bit beat up. But keep fighting we must. That’s why I would like to see Biden recover and come back strong in the next two debates. He’s not the best debater, but he can rise to the occasion. The more Trump reveals himself, the better. I realize it’s risky, but walking away seems like giving in to a bully.

  10. Bryan Caskey

    I watched the “debate” almost in its entirety. It was a bit less dignified that I had expected, but only by a little. (My expectations were already pretty low.)

    I don’t think there were any moments that changed anyone’s mind. If anything, it probably caused a few undecided voters to just say “forget this” and not vote at all for President.

    1. bud

      I’ve seen this “not vote at all” thought several times over the last few days. Huh! This should be all the more reason to vote blue. Biden didn’t act like a horses ass. He did call Trump a clown at one point but overall his temperament was commendable. Frankly anyone who was still “undecided” before the debate was probably a Trump voter. And if they stay home, great.

      1. Ken

        The Trump strategy is to animate his base while otherwise depressing voter turnout in hopes his base will take the day. I heard an undecided voter on NPR say that after watching the “debate” she didn’t think either candidate was fit for the office. Which shows the Trump strategy is working — at least on her.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Bud is right. The absolutely worst response is not to vote. That is what Trump wants.

        To quote from a Frank Bruni column saying the two remaining debates need to be canceled:

        “Trump’s core strategy in the debate — reflective of his core strategy overall — was to make voters so disgusted that many would turn away from the election and so distrustful that many would follow his lead should he reject the official results. He’s maneuvering himself into position to steal this election. On Tuesday night he turned the debate commission and every television network and internet site that aired or streamed the event into his accomplices.”

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