Presidential debate recap: They finally grew up…sort of

Charlie Adams, Opinion Editor

graphic of trump and biden

A frustrated voter threatens to mute Biden and Trump. (Graphic by Matthew Lin and Michael Nelson)

With just a few days until the election, Lasso Opinion Editor Charlie Adams shares his take on the final presidential debate.

At times over the course of online learning we’ve all felt ourselves wishing for a mute button. Whether it’s for that one student who talks right over you and won’t stop, or the unfortunate case of somebody’s video games or Youtube videos accidentally blasting through the audio.

But never had I felt this urge so great than during the first Presidential Debate. When news broke that microphones at the final October Presidential Debate could be muted, I think it’s fair to say most Americans (and disgruntled distance learners) were relieved. 

The moment of redemption, however, never came, but it wasn’t such a bad thing. Overall, the night was a success, with both candidates upholding more decorum and delivering a far more polished performance than previously. And candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump were not alone in their improvement; NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Welker, maintained order and pace, easily making her case as the frontrunner moderator.

Clearly shifting tactics from the last debate, President Trump was much more restrained and made what was, I suppose, the best case he could on the dominating issue, COVID-19. This was of course a hard sell when Trump’s accomplishments include: over 225,000 dead, contracting COVID-19, hosting scores of extremely successful superspreading events, and making America number one again- in COVID cases that is. 

Joe Biden looked as sharp as ever, thanks in part to the Trump campaign for lowering everyone’s expectations of his debate ability. On the topic of COVID-19, Biden outlined his plan to assist small businesses with a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) package, open schools safely, invest in rapid testing, and encourage mask wearing. 

Optically, Biden crushed it, and it wasn’t just because of Trump’s rambling critiques of Democrats’ environmental policies that he said would, “build new buildings with little, tiny, small windows”. With clear and genuine appeals to middle ground and his own humble beginnings in Scranton, Biden effectively reinforced his message about dignity of work, building back better, and being a President for not only Democrats but for all American people. 

“I don’t see red states or blue states. What I see is American, United States,” Biden said. 

Towards the end of the debate, Trump grew more aggressive and desperate for traction, and relapsed to 2016 arguing that he was an outsider, a changemaker, and anything but establishment. He whined, “You’re the politician” and responded to Biden’s statement on criminal justice reform with, “But, why didn’t he get it done? See, it’s all talk, no action with these politicians, why didn’t he get it?”

This gripe over Biden’s political inactivity backfired on Trump as Welker’s questions poked holes in the numerous deals that as President he has failed to make. Practically each topic of debate revealed this, from Obamacare, to China, to North Korean disarmament, and perhaps most importantly to COVID-19 relief. When COVID-19 was mentioned Trump instinctually blamed Nancy Pelosi, prompting Welker to interject, “But you’re the president.”

Even though the debate is not likely to change the minds of what few voters are still on the fence, it reassured my confidence and no doubt many others’ in a President Joe Biden. As a leader for all Americans, I believe last night he proved to be on track to return humility, honesty, and empathy to the White House. 

“I’m an American President. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me, and I’m going to make sure that you’re represented. I’m going to give you hope,” Biden said when asked how he would address those who did not vote for him at his inauguration.