Here we go, the third second presidential debate of the 2020 election. Unlike the first debate, in this one, the moderator can muzzle the guy who's not speaking. Will it make a difference? We will see.
Once again, I'll be watching PBS. All times below are Central Daylight Time (UTC -5).
19:41: Watching last weekend's John Oliver waiting for the debate to start. He's explaining how we really screwed the WHO. Fun times...
20:02: 47 million people have already voted. That's 34% of all the votes cast in 2016.
20:03: And here we go. PBS is almost 2 seconds behind NPR, which I have playing in the kitchen, for obvious reasons.
20:05: "More than 40,000 Americans are in the hospital with Covid... How would you lead the country?" The president: "As you know, 2.2 million people were going to die." Oh FFS. Almost nothing he said in his answer was true. This is going to be a looooong hour and a half.
20:08: Biden: "There are 1,000 deaths a day. No one responsible for those deaths should be president. ... The president has no plan. ... Wear masks all the time, invest in rapid testing, national standards...." See? That's called a plan.
20:09: The president: "We're counting on the military [to distribute vaccine]." What? Biden: "Make sure everything is transparent. By the way, this is the same fellow who said this would end by Easter. ... He has no clear plan, and no prospect of a vaccine soon."
20:13: Why is the president blaming Biden for H1N1? Biden: "He is xenophobic, but not because he banned China. He did virtually nothing."
20:14: The president: "He's obviously made a lot of money somehow. ... I'd like to lock myself up in the basement, or in a beautiful room in the White House for a year and a half." Yeah, one can dream. And Biden's reactions are perfect.
20:15: Biden: "He says we're learning to live with it? Come on, we're dying with it." Nice.
20:16: The president: "It's China's fault!" Biden: "What did the president say in January? ... Maybe we should inject bleach? ... We're about to lose 200,000 more people!"
20:17: "Do you want to respond to that, Mr Vice President?" "No." He got the president's goat and then said "nyah."
20:19: Biden: "You need money to open, and he hasn't done anything to make that happen."
20:21: Biden: "We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time." Arguing for money to help businesses. Arguing that it's a continuum, not black and white. "Continuum," unfortunately, is not a word the president can comprehend. Or spell.
20:22: A Daily Parker reader texts: "Wow, what restraint. No one's landing a single blow." I disagree; the president is coming close to hitting himself.
20:23: The president keeps saying businesses are "getting killed" but, to Biden's point, refuses to deal with the Democrats in Congress to get aid passed.
20:27: (Had to get a G&T, sorry about the delay.) Biden: "Giuliani is being used as a Russian pawn. ... Russia wants to make sure I don't get elected. ... I don't understand why this president isn't taking on Putin when he's paying bounties to kill American soldiers."
20:28: The president: "You got $3.5 million from Putin. I never got any money from Russia. ... There's been nobody tougher than me on Russia." Wut? "They took over a big part of Ukraine, you handed it to them."
20:30: Oh, FFS, "the emails"? I mean, really?
20:31: Biden: Hitting the president's conflicts of interest in China, including the bank accounts. "I have released ... 22 years of my tax returns. What are you hiding? Foreign countries are paying you a lot."
20:32: Again with the "under audit" crap? What the hell, "pre-paid" taxes? THAT ISN'T HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS.
20:34: "Phony witch hunt." FFS. Another TDP reader: "This is the most ridiculous 'debate' we've ever seen. I can't decide who is most inarticulate. Bullshit bullshit bullshit. This will accomplish nothing for either of them. The needle will not move in either direction." Well, sure; but nothing happens in Kabuki, either.
20:37: The president has to respond. He has to get the last word in. He can't help it.
20:40: "He pokes his finger in the eyes of all our allies. ... We need to have all our friends supporting us against China."
20:41: "All this malarkey." If I were doing a drinking game, that would be a big one.
20:43: Again, the president is all-or-nothing, which hobbles him: "If there's a war [with North Korea], it would be a nuclear war." And now he's just saved 25 million Koreans by not trying to rein in Kim.
20:45: Biden: "The Korean Peninsula must be a nuclear-free zone." The president: "[Kim] didn't like Obama." Biden: "He wouldn't meet with President Obama ... because we were putting on sanctions." And the president just can't give in. Biden is getting under his skin now.
20:47: The president is taking credit for ending the individual mandate. Unbelievable. That's like Major Dyer taking credit for Amritsar.
20:49: And the president got muted. Nice. Biden: "I'm going to pass Obamacare with a public option." WHAT? WHAT WHAT WHAT? Woooooooot!
20:50: Biden: "We're going to get the pre-existing condition plan when we get the infrastructure plan." The president is turning purple, making faces...Biden is getting to him.
20:51: Biden: "Everyone should have the right to affordable healthcare." Hear hear! "This is something that's going to save people's lives, and give people an opportunity...to have health care for their children."
20:52: The president: "[Harris] is more liberal than Bernie Sanders." Tell that to the people she prosecuted.
20:53: TDP reader, by text: "Joe has hit his stride now." Yep. And now the president is lying about Social Security.
20:54: Biden: "He's a very confused guy. He thinks he's running against someone else. I beat them." "The idea that Donald Trump is lecturing me on Social Security and Medicare? Come on." And it got to the president.
20:55: Biden: "Where I come from...people don't live off the stock market." Beautiful pivot. And the president walked right into it.
20:57: "Mr President, why haven't you gotten the relief bill?" The president: "Nancy Pelosi does not want to approve it." Moderator: "But you're the president." Biden: "I have [pushed a deal]. ... This HEROES Act has been sitting there! ... He will not support that, and Mitch McConnell won't either."
20:59: Biden repeats the Obama "I don't see red states and blue states" line. "The founders were smart; they allowed the government to deficit-spend for the United States of America." OK, that was a bit much.
21:00: The president demonstrate a complete lack of understanding about how wages work. Which means he's talking about how wages work.
21:02: We're an hour in, and the president has yet to articulate a single coherent government policy. And here comes the question about children separated from their parents at the border, and he blames the kids.
21:03: "But how will you reunite children with their families?" The president goes on about cartels, coyotes, and Obama. "Yes, we're working on a policy." Biden slams him: "Their parents brought them over. ... We're a laughingstock." Using the president's favorite words against him.
21:04: The president is now 100% on the defensive, and he's slipping.
21:05: Biden: "Within 100 days, I'm going to send to Congress a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people. ... Over 20,000 [Dreamers] are first responders ... We owe them." The president: "He had 8 years..." Yes, but he was vice-president. You're president.
21:07: The president: "A murder would come in, a rapist would come in ... and we would release them. ... Only those, I reeeeeeeally hate to say this, only those with low IQs would come back." Wow. Just, wow.
21:09: I'm still in awe of the president's last answer. One could extrapolate that he believes that people who obey the law are stupid. I sincerely hope he learns a clear lesson from Cyrus Vance next year.
21:10: Did the president just say "good" in response to Biden talking about how people of color are afraid of police? What?
21:13: What is he talking about? I do not know what the president is talking about.
21:14: The president: "I ran because of you, I ran because of Barack Obama." Yes: and let's remember why.
21:16: The president, on contributing to an environment of hate, first conflated BLM with anti-police extremists, and then "I am the least racist person in this room." OK. Right. And then he repeated this.
21:18: Biden: "Abraham Lincoln here is the most racist person here. ... This guy is a dog-whistle the size of a foghorn." And the president goes off on "Abraham Lincoln" instead of what Biden actually said, and then turns it around to the Crime Bill of 1994. Biden, with eyeroll: "Oh, god."
21:20: The moderator follows up on the Crime Bill. "Why should those families vote for you?" Biden: "In the 1980s, all 100 Senators voted for a drug bill... It was a mistake. ... People should not go to jail for a drug or alcohol problem, they should go to treatment." The president: "Why didn't he get it done? That's what these politicians do." Well, yes, that's the downside of not living in a dictatorship.
21:23: The president: "Look at China. It's filthy. Look at India. Filthy." He just insulted a fifth of the world. Good job. And all of this in an answer about climate change. Biden: "Climate change...is an existential threat to humanity." One notices subtle differences between the candidates...
21:27: Biden: "I don't know where he comes from. I don't know where he comes up with these numbers. '$100 trillion?' Come on."
21:30: Biden: "We need other industries to get to zero emissions by 2025." Uh, Joe...did you mean 2035?
21:34: The moderator, Kristen Welker, is not taking shit from anyone. She may have won this one.
21:35: Biden's closing: "We're going to choose science over fiction. We're going to choose hope over fear."
Ite missa est.
I'm switching to NPR for commentary, then walking the dog and going to bed. This debate didn't accomplish much, but that's OK. It reminded everyone what normal might look like. In that way, Biden might have the upper hand.
I believe we will know who won on Election Night, so I'll live-blog a week from Tuesday. A lot could happen, but I don't think a lot will. I am so looking forward to a calmer, more predictable White House starting next January.