The UNPresidential 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate

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by Aiyana Thomas

The first U.S presidential debate this year was chaotic. 

It was chaotic for many reasons- While watching the debate I took notes because I was lost in most of the answers that each party provided for the questions that moderator Chris Wallace asked. It was hard to follow with all the interruptions and how most of the time the candidates wouldn’t even answer the question in a straightforward way. They sometimes dodged the question altogether.

From what I wrote down in my notes, Trump interrupted Biden 57 times, Biden interrupted Trump 29 times. Trump personally attacked Biden 12 times, Biden personally attacked Trump 10 times. Trump argued and / or interrupted Wallace 25 times, Wallace told Trump to stop talking 24 times. Trump changed the subject or avoided the question 10 times, and Trump complimented himself or his administration 17 times. Biden said the words “not true” 20 times, the term “radical left” was brought up seven times, and finally — surprisingly — the term “fake news” was brought up once.

During the Covid segment of the debate, Trump glorified himself and how he handled the situation. According to the transcripts, “The Governors said I did a phenomenal job. Most of them said that. In fact, people that would not be necessarily on my side said that, ‘President Trump did a phenomenal job.’ We did. We got the gowns. We got the masks. We made the ventilators. You wouldn’t have made ventilators. And now we’re weeks away from a vaccine. We’re doing therapeutics already. Fewer people are dying when they get sick. Far fewer people are dying. We’ve done a great job.” 

But as other articles have said, the Trump administration waited two months before bolstering medical supplies for the pandemic. 

The Chicago Tribune said that three months into the pandemic, supplies were almost used up. There were reports of broken ventilators and old rotting masks.

The article cited Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary during the Obama administration saying, “We basically wasted two months.” 

An article in Vox reported that hospitals had to stretch their supplies and treat infected patients with protective equipment that was reused and that puts patients and doctors / nurses in danger. 

Multiple times during the debate President Trump poked fun at Biden for wearing his mask while going out during the pandemic, saying, “I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” 

After Wallace asked Trump if he was questioning the efficiency of masks in his previous answer he stated: “ I put a mask on when I think I need it. Tonight, as an example, everybody’s had a test and you’ve had social distancing and all of the things that you have to, but I wear masks when needed. When needed, I wear masks.” 

Ironically, on Friday, Trump announced that he and Melania both tested positive for Coronavirus. Trump downplayed the severity of how he was rushed to a hospital in a helicopter. Trump has also returned to the White House but his doctor said “he isn’t out of the woods,” and Trump is saying to not be afraid of Covid, undermining public health messages. This is a very Trump thing to do — go against what more knowledgeable people are saying.

All in all the debate was unpresidential and in various ways both parties looked unprofessional. The times where Trump did go for Biden’s neck, and Biden did not retaliate and just said something straight to the public, was a good point for him and I think raised some respect for Biden, while Trump acted unprofessionally. 

This debate was all over the place and I don’t think Wallace gets paid enough to deal with it. My all time favorite event(s) that happened during this debate were when Biden called Trump a clown twice, and also when Biden said, “Hey, look… I’m not gonna listen to him,” when Trump was interrupting — and then Trump proceeded to pout like a child. Very entertaining and I would watch the next debate just for the laughs. 

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