A Disastrous Debate

I completely understand the desire to relegate memories of the first 2020 presidential debate to oblivion, but for those of you who will bear with me, I need the cathartic experience of writing about it. I also think it is important to do so to distance myself from those who think that President Trump showed himself to be forceful and in command. He did not. Both Chris Wallace and Vice-president Biden presented themselves poorly as well but, in my opinion, the president was the worst of an embarrassing bunch.

From the outset, let me say that I will be voting for the current president. I am voting for and supporting, as I have for the past five years, policies rather than choosing a person who will be my family’s guide to character and morals. I look at what President Trump has done rather than at what or how he speaks. I support almost all of his record. I further believe that no other Republican who was running in 2016 could have stood up against the Clinton and media machines. We needed, and we voted in the primaries, for a bulldozer, a maverick, a Hulk Hogan. President Trump’s actions have fulfilled my expectations and I am grateful for what he has done during his term of office.

Having said that, he blew an opportunity at the debate. I have heard the president in State of the Union speeches and at other times speak articulately, clearly and strongly. On each of those occasions, he countered the image of the media and the Left. During this debate, he matched the parody that they constantly and unfairly portray him to be. His worst self was on show.
Did the president not prepare for the debate at all? Did he get terrible advice from those around him or did he reject good advice? I don’t know. I would like to address just one question that the moderator asked him and that could have been answered in a majestic Trumpian way that would have magnified one of his best assets, that of being in touch with real Americans.

The question was whether he would denounce white supremacists. He should have known that question was coming and he could have turned it to his advantage rather than fumble the opportunity as he did. I assume that no one in the campaign is reading my words. I write my suggested answer in case it might provide a balm to anyone’s soul that, like mine, was battered by that ridiculous evening. Here is how I think the president could have answered that question:

Chris, I’m glad you asked that question so I can explain how it is based on a lie. The media doesn’t talk about this, but to this date over 400,000 citizens have walked away from the Democrat Party. The movement they joined, called #Walkaway was founded by one man who hated me for what he was told I said about the Charlotte event. A friend convinced him to uncover the true story and this young man realized that CNN and other media were lying to and manipulating him. He posted a video explaining why he was walking away from the Democrat Party. It has caused a revolution and over 400,000 people, largely young, black and white, many from groups stereotyped as automatically Democrat, have written or videoed their similar stories. They are choosing truth over propaganda, unity over divisiveness, love of country and God over hatred.They know that your premise about what I said is incorrect.

However, you ask whether I oppose white supremacy? If you mean what the term meant in the traditional sense, I absolutely do. If, you mean it as many in my opponent’s party has changed it to mean, that every individual with a white skin is automatically a racist and white supremacist, then I don’t. When Mr. Biden said that you are not a real black if you don’t vote for him, I found that offensive. I object to anyone, of any color, denouncing others based solely on the color of their skin. I have canceled Federal programs that, in the spirit of Communist re-education camps, forced good, loving people to stand up and say they are racist only because of the color of their skin. I still believe in Martin Luther King’s words that we should be judged by our character and not by the color of our skin. I am sorry that my opponent does not.

Under two minutes and, in my humble opinion, a response to the question that could have won, rather than lost, votes.

I’m stepping off my soap-box. We Jews have just finished celebrating Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, both of which emphasize that God already knows what will be in the coming year. However, these holy days also emphasize that we human beings need to put forward our best efforts to earn the blessings that God wants to shower on us. I pray, as I am sure many of you do, that President Trump’s flaws do not obscure his strengths and amazing achievements, condemning us to the greater flaws of those who are partnering with people and groups who wish to destroy a magnificent country.  Their methods include violence and bullying as well as opposing and marginalizing people who wish to remain faithful to traditional religious and patriotic values. Compared to that, I don’t find a  bombastic Donald Trump to be the most frightening peril I need to fear.

47 thoughts on “A Disastrous Debate”

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  1. For many reasons, too many to go into here, I disagree with your analysis of the situaton. I will not vote for Trump, even though he has done good things for Israel, where I live and have raised a family in for over fifty years. I wonder if it became more politically useful to turn against Israel, he would not hesitate to change his stance, throw us under the bus so to speak. He’s lied about so many things — why should we trust him on this?

    What I do want to repudiate is your contention that “…one of his [Trump’s] best assets, that of being in touch with real Americans.

    Susan — do you mean to say that those who are not Trump fans and supporters are fake Americans, unreal Americans, perhaps even fifth column Americans who are working for its downfall?
    Those “unreal” American love the country, have fought for it, hold high positions in the govenment and have never been suspected of one ounce of unrealness or disloyalty. You should apologize to them for this insult and defamation. It’s a flagrant example of lashon ha’rah and hal’banat panim b’tsibur which you know are cardinal sins. Make me wonder if you are, indeed, all you define yourself as being.

    1. Laura, I hear what you’re saying and if I was looking for the worst interpretation of my words, I see how I could misconstrue them that way. However, I think that one of the things destroying civilization today is hyper-sensitivity and the “gotcha” mentality. So, I might not have chosen the best word, but what I meant by them, and what I think most people understood me to mean, was the non-elite. It is a strange problem of our time that fantastically wealthy Hollywood nabobs, highly-paid elected officials and media personalities live with private security and in gated communities while advocating for defunding the police while the people who live in areas where crime is rising may be upset at police abuse, but want more good police presence in their lives. Does this mean that everyone who lives in a gated community or who graduated from an Ivy League college or who votes differently from me is an elitist? No, it doesn’t. But there is a divide and that divide was pretty clear in who voted how in 2016. Wishing you a chag sameach (joyous holiday) of Sukkot.

  2. After reading all the wonderful comments from everyone, I am hopeful that our prayers will be heard and our land will be healed and saved from the onslaught of the invasion the enemy of our soul has pronounced upon us.
    My we hold up the arms of our President and support him as He was selected to serve us not as a politician but as a human being wanting this country and Israel to be exalted. I was recently reading how Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moshe while the war was engaging. If history is repeated, perhaps we can hold up our President’s arms while we suffer under this attack against us.

  3. Polly P. Minyard

    Thank you for your words. I so agree, President Trump truly lost the opportunity of that first debate. He did not loose my vote.

  4. Excellent, Susan. As per your usual “right on target” analysis, you nailed it. President Trump fumbled the ball at the debate but , as you indicated, I’m also voting for what he stands for and for his record – not his abrasive personality.

  5. Biden and Wallace both started interrupting Pres. Trump after about 20 minutes. Wallace asked Trump loaded questions and actually helped Biden. Why is every debate “moderated by a Leftwing Democrat? The next debate moderator was an intern for Biden and a big supporter of his. He will be out to get the president and to help Biden.

    1. What debate rules and moderators are selected should absolutely be more scrutinized by the RNC. But once they have accepted, they need to make the best of it.

  6. Mr. Jaymes E.S. Brandon

    Personally, I think the debate went as I expected it would. People forget that The President is a businessman and a pragmatist, not a politician. He sees a problem, dissects it, and comes to a logical, reasonable, and in many cases (as I see it), Godly answer. Politicians have made an absolute mess of America for the past 70+ years I’ve lived, and in my opinion, we needed an experienced businessman to straighten out the administrative catastrophes that America had been subjected to for decades. I see POTUS as a parallel to Nehemiah in the O.T., in several ways…and a reading (always pray before reading scripture), will show how a real Prophet handles an enemy. Nehemiah did not arbitrate or let his guard down with the known enemies that were conspiring against him. The wisdom of these historical events are for our continual learning and understanding. So much truthful knowledge and experience is contained in these ancient writings. I can also understand what POTUS has been putting up with from the ‘drunkards of Ephraim’ as attested to in the prophesies of Isaiah, who are currently clogging up the ‘gates’ of power in our political arena. Most people do not see, or understand this…yet. The modern day parallels are amazing! Personally, I believe that God is always in control, and while we have free will, our destinies are pre-planned, and everything has been going ‘wrong’, just right! As for round 1 of the debates? The spectating crowds need to pray for Godly wisdom to open their eyes, and unstop their ears so they can get back on the path that was the original intent for this once Godly nation…as a shining beacon to the world. President Trump is doing what he was made in God’s image to do….and citizen Biden, has to play the part of what he’s been created to do. These are my thoughts on the issue, as they came to me for this response. Semper Fi! 🙂

  7. WOW! It doesn’t matter if president of the United States doesn’t have morals. Has not President Trump been “PROVEN TO BE A LIAR, A MAN OF MANY WIVES , A RACIST, A NACASSICIST, SPEWS HATE SPEECH AND DIVISION ETC. Are these not character traits that the WORD OF GOD SPEAKS AGAINST. The media makes this up about him? God knows who and what kind of person the President is. The God of the Bible “removes kings” and ” set up kings”. Dan, 2:21 Black, Brown, and even Jewish people have experienced HATE even the more because of this man. Yet, President Trump, has done good things where Israel is concerned. I pray for Presidents Trumps soul! I pray for America! I also, pray that men learn to love others as God Loves! Not as Democrats or Republicans, but as human beings! The God of my salvations “sit high and looks low” “sees all and hears all” Ps.113:5-6 Nevertheless, whether this is posted or not “Let God be true and every man a liar” Romans3:4

  8. I don’t disagree with anything you said. However, I think there is another way of looking at it.

    Presidential debates are a joke anyway. There is no issue facing America or that a president has to deal with that you can answer in 2 minutes. So the debates end up being a contest to be “clever”. There is a difference between “clever” and “smart.” A smart person thinks deeply about things and can come off looking bad in a debate as they try to lay out the facts and nuances of a complex issue. Meanwhile, the clever person throws in some good one-liners and insults and is declared the winner.

    Think about the Joe Biden / Paul Ryan debates 2012. Paul Ryan is obviously smart, as well as decent, honest, caring, and civil. Biden meanwhile, was a condescending, insulting, deceitful bully. Every time Ryan tried to talk about an issue, Biden did his condescending fake smile, childish eye rolling and hand waving, and rudely interrupted constantly. Biden was a complete jerk. Ryan was smart, but Biden was clever. And the mainstream media gleefully declared Biden to be the “clear winner”. What it proved is that an intelligent, decent, civil person will never win against the lying bullies on the left and their media propagandists. That is a regrettable statement on the times we live in. But you can only fight the war you’ve been given, not the one you want to fight.

    From the outset of this debate, both Biden and Wallace were going after Trump. It was like watching a fight between two yapping chihuahuas and a pit bill. And yes, that was really ugly – stomach turning ugly. But after 90 minutes there was no doubt left who the “alpha” in the room was.

    In a world full of dictators like Putin and Xi, not to mention all the Euro-leftists and enemies at home who want to destroy America, who do want fighting for you? A chihuahua or a pit bull.

    Lastly, the reason Trump answered the “white-supremacist” question the way he did is that it was a common media “trap.” Once they lead you into denouncing one group, then they go for another group, and another and another. Soon they are asking you to denounce commentators on Fox News, or anyone who opposes the protest/riots. Trump knew it was a trap and while he did not extricate himself as artfully as any of us would have liked, he also did not walk blindly into it.

    I appreciate everything you and Rabbi Lapin do.

    1. Thank you Susan for this thoughtful (and correct) assessment of the debate, however, I think Jim W. makes a good point. As ugly as it was, I must say I got what I expected and walked away with a feeling that President Tump won the night…. oh, but it was ugly. The President was smart enough to know the white-supremacist question was a trap. I was actually insulted by the question because it showed Chris Wallace was aiming very low. I thought the President (perhaps not artfully) dodged the premise that he was some how “in charge” for those degenerate groups. He asked Mr. Wallace to name them instead of just saying “oh yes, I’ll tell those guys to knock it off.” Why wasn’t former Vice President Joe Biden asked directly to denounce BLM and ANTIFA?

      It was a televised debate which, by definition, makes it political theater. They gave us a rock-um-sockum roust. I doubt the Lincoln-Douglas debates were social high-tea events attended only by academics and debate coaches. But, when needed, Lincoln produced the Gettysburg Address. That’s what we need to remember.

      Hey!, this was television, and Niel Postman could not have been more right… “We’re Amusing Ourselves to Death.”

  9. With all due resect…. that question was at least the 100th time it had been asked and answered.

    As a matter of fact, Chris Wallace asked Trump the exact same question, in the exact same way back in March of 2016 during a GOP primary debate.

    Today, the press asked Kayleigh McEnany the same question no less than 6 times after which she answered 6 times that the President does and has condemned….

    And while I do agree in an ideal world, the President could (and should) have behaved better, I think we are at the point of driving the money changers out of the temple with a bull whip!!

  10. Dear Miss Susan

    Once again you have captured the essence of the matter. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I’ve heard apologists for the President as well as critics. Several apologists have implied that the President’s behavior is acceptable because former VP Biden was the first to interrupt, doing so three times during the second question directed at the President.

    What can I say about the critics. I can only ask why the criticism only seems to go in one direction.

    I also question is why the debate procedures did not allow for rebuttals. If the debate coordinators are going to change anything, that is where I would start, rather than beginning with a mic switch to turn off unwanted responses.

    I seem to recall an old bromide that two wrongs do not make a right. I have been praying that the Holy One would shed truth and light on the issues raised during the debates. Guess I need to add prayers for decorum for the remaining debates. Of course, I also need to pray for forgiveness for myself when what I hear makes me want to chew nails.

    Working toward repentance.

  11. I agree that the debate was painful to watch. I almost turned it off. However, it was Biden who started the interrupting, very aggressively. Anyone who has learned anything about Donald Trump knows that when he is attacked he punches back. Biden started it, and also engaged in much more and much worse rude name calling than Trump did. Apparently Trump didn’t want to let Biden get away with what he did in the VP debate with Paul Ryan in 2012. Ryan was overwhelmed and dominated by Biden’s constant interruptions, weird inappropriate laughter, etcetera. Joe Biden is not a nice guy. He is happy play dirty. And by the way, Trump DID condemn white supremacy in his answer during the debate, more than once. If you listen carefully, it’s there, although almost lost in the confusion. Both Wallace and the media have conveniently ignored Trump’s condemnations. The unethical, nasty, dirty tricks of the media make me sick, much more so than Donald Trump’s rather insensitive style.

  12. We knew back in 2016 that with the President’s victory we also inherited all his warts and wrinkles, baggage, unpredictability, ability to pull off some amazing victories for freedom and liberty but the next day create a train wreck. God gave us a very humble vessel for the rescue of His chosen nation. The debate for our family was as cringeworthy all the way around as you describe it. The first order of business with this President is to begin the day with prayer for him and end the day the same way. God forbid he doesn’t get re-elected.

  13. Thank you, only if our president could have said it like you did. His policies have made this country a better place. I will vote for him again.

  14. I agree with your comments. I thought on a few occasions the President could have articulated what his administration achieved. His talking points should always highlight what this administration has done in that area. Coronavirus – I would have pointed out that we used every mechanism available at the federal level to push out what the states’ governors said they needed, included building field hospitals in NYC that were not utilized and sending two Navy ships as additional resources to California and NY. I would also mention how this pandemic exposed our reliance on foreign governments that delayed our responses. Now, US companies are moving critical supply chains and products back to the US or friendlier countries. He should state clearly each time, he is working for the American people and will do everything possible to put our interests ahead of other countries. Hopefully, he can come back and clean this mess up. He needs to have a 2-3 strong talking points and stick with them.

  15. Spot on! I also hope someone at the campaign reads your comments. That is exactly what he should have said.

  16. Nope. He wouldn’t have gotten ten words in response without interruption from both Wallace and Biden.

  17. I can’t discount the importance of core values. I firmly believe that Israel has H’ watching over them and leaves American Jews to be a light into the nation of USA. What does it say about us when we turn a blind eye to the actions of a President that often engages in most if not all of the very Al-chets we beat our chest on YK when we ask for forgiveness. Some friends disagree with my perspective and I am ok with that. My vote is a private decision, but my trust in H’s is resolute. Our votes count and each of us must take a breath and determine the importance of G’melous Chesed (loving kindness) in our society. Enjoy Succos!

    1. Michael, I guess I see g’milut chasadim, loving kindness as spoken about by the Democrats and absent in their policies while it is in Republican policies. But, yes, we each need to make our own assessments.

  18. I agree with everything you said, Susan. I also have a heavy heart for our President because he already looked exhausted before the debate started. He is human and I give him kudos for still fighting for truth even if his attempts were clumsy and rough. He lives Israel, he loves God, he loves the unborn, and he loves our country. I’ll excuse his behavior more than once, more than twice, you get my message. Love you and your the Rabbi’s writings and musings.

    1. Carmine Pescatore

      I was underwhelmed by both candidates. I turned the “debate” off after twenty minutes. Trump needs to leave his ego home before the next debate. He is quite articulate when he wants to be.

  19. I believe that President did answer the question about condemning white supremacists. He said sure twice and he was correct in pointing out that the violent protests that we have been experiencing in America are not caused by white supremacists. He has condemned white supremacists over again. He even deserted Ross Perot’s party over the fact that David Duke was also a member. I really resent Chris Wallace asking the question. Why wasn’t he asking each man how they were going to deal with the AntiFa and BLM terrorist organizations that are so disrupting America?!

  20. Susan well said. I totally agree.
    With one little different opinion on the babyish spatting between them.
    If Trump did not do what Trump normally does it would of not shown the real side of Biden.
    I can not believe that everyone could not see how most everything Biden said was a lie and a deliver it prompt to jab Trump which he (Trump) took bate and sinker.
    But besides all that Biden almost had some serious compactions from the debate.
    I really don’t think he can take three more debates with Trump.
    Even if they turn off Trumps mike Biden will still hear him and have to say something about it.

    This years Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur was very special.
    Blessing to all.

  21. President Trump is a work in progress, as we all are. I prayed out loud intensely as I watched this baseless hatred “debate” unfold.

    If only Mr. Trump would have been able to block out the hate. If only… What you wrote would have been truth to hearing ears who are seeking to live the Truth. Those who are hateful of the Almighty and His Word cannot hear because their ears are blocked and their hearts are hearts of stone.

    I have undergone a tremendous trial and tribulation at my work that tested every fiber of my neshama and flesh, and my relationship with HaShem for 3 years. I kept forgiving and praying for the people whom I work with in a small area. What I endured mirrors outright lies, gossip, and slander Mr Trump is going through. My sin? I privately made management aware of improper unethical behaviors. When I finally went to H.R., I found out that my employer has an Ethical Policy, aka, a written Torah. I had the duty to report such, AND, there shall be no retaliation by management and employees. Instead of retraining the person’s, I was humiliated and scrutinized. I knew it was not about me, but a out Whom I represent.
    I was so affected by fear and I call it PTSD, unable to document it until…. I was brave enough to take the steps necessary to stop the harassing abusive treatment I received by way of a union grievance. After I filed it, the atmosphere changed! I am no longer afraid! HaShem moved an employee to another shift. All of a sudden I am appreciated! I feel resurrected from this trial! B”H! (I work the same job on my second shift. I was/am treated with respect and honor. The difference? The people.)

    I say all this because, even though, Mr. Trump should have held himself to a higher standard, in the end, all the events of the lies, slander, corrupt behaviors of many people in government positions, past and present, and the current corona virus plague, allowed by HaShem to bring about His Kingdom, (think the Aleinu prayer), has funneled into this one moment of “debate.”

    Israel is in crisis. The USA is in crisis. The entire world is in crisis. The time of the Final Geula/Redemption is at hand. We can hasten it by living lives of baseless Love countering baseless hatred.

    Please note: this spiraling downward trend that became viral and contagious began immediately after the 2016 election. I have been bemoaning this as I noticed this same trend in the company I have been with for 23 years, in employee relationships and management shortcuts.

    HaShem has been exceedingly merciful. Now is the time to return to Him with all our heart, neshama, and strength. How do we do this? By loving our neighbor as ourselves. It has to be we not me. The Torah is the Instructions for Living in Our Father’s House. Let’s change the world for His Glory!

    Chag Sukkot Sameach!

    Laureen : )

  22. All of us Trump supporters are doing as you Susan, think of what he could have said and didn’t. Why did he keep speaking to Biden and the moderator instead of speaking to the TV audience .

  23. Susan- I couldn’t have said it better! I feel like President Trump had so much to get out & with the negativity surrounding him he lost control! He can do & has done so much better even with all the evil forces fighting against him! I pray for better days ahead!

  24. You need a man’s comment, so here goes. You articulated it very well. He should take lessons from you.
    Pastor Dave Allen

  25. Well said Susan. His debating attributes may not be stellar to say the least, but as you said he is what the country needs at this time. I believe his style is the perfect counter to the constant outrageous barrage of lies and deceit spewing from the left. During the debate he may have missed a golden opportunity to appear presidential, but truth be told, I wasn’t expecting that from him. I agree with your comment that his achievements to date far outweigh any character flaws.
    Too bad you don’t write for the President.

    1. Gary, you may not have been expecting that from him and, as I wrote, his behavior isn’t going to change my vote. However, there are still a few people in this country with an open mind and his job was to reach those people. That, I’m afraid, he did not.

  26. Dear Susan,
    This is the most intelligent of all I have heard about the debate. I agree that the President is a hope for our nation. I will also vote for him as the opponent’s are very unstable to serve our country for judgement comes from our Lord.
    The defensive attitude was understandable with the flood of attacks our President has endured however.

    1. Joanie, it is understandable when a mother loses it at the end of a long, tiring day and screams at her children when they dawdle on their way to bed. It is not admirable and it is not effective. The President at a debate should be in control of himself despite the despicable opposition and hatred thrown at him since he won the election.

      1. I agree with everyone on this thread–especially Susan’s comment that no other 2016 GOP candidate could have taken on the Democrats and Mainstream Media and won…as to my admiration for our president, I heard Hoover Institute Senior Fellow and military historian Victor D. Hanson repeat a quote by Abraham Lincoln in defence of his refusal to remove Ulysses S. Grant, a known drunk, as commander of the Union forces: “I can’t spare this man–he fights.”

        We can’t spare President Trump either; but we can lift him in prayer as he battles to preserve the freedoms that will enable us to raise our families as we see fit (for me in accordance with Biblical principles). The political fight will get uglier, I suspect, but this is an existential fight with no time to worry about Queensberry Rules.

        P.S. I highly recommend Hanson’s book, ‘The Case for Trump.’ He includes a quote from Trump that distinguishes himself from Grant: ‘I can honestly say I’ve never had a beer in my life. It’s one of my only good traits. Can you imagine if I had, what a mess I’d be? I’d be the world’s worst.’

        Take courage, y’all and let’s keep praying! God bless!

  27. I agree with you! Trump missed more than one opportunity to allow Biden to show his true hypocrisy as well. interrupting him cut off some real possibilities of allowing Biden to lose his hold on some of his own base!

  28. I did not watch the entire debate but what I saw was terrible. The moderator seemed to be debating the president, and both Trump and Biden were rude and childish. As Tucker Carlson said, America deserves better. Your answer is excellent, and would stand up to the fact-checkers. I hope President Trump is preparing himself to present his best self next time.

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