Unlike the first presidential debate on September 29th (i.e., two years ago), nothing that happened at last night's debate made me want to become a hermit in the mountains of New Zealand. But two big things stood out.
Most importantly, Joe Biden pledged to expand Obamacare with a true public option. This would expand health coverage to the entire country. It would constitute the broadest expansion of a public program in my lifetime. And it would take the biggest step towards a true guarantee of health care in the US since Medicare became law in 1965. I imagine UHG, Blue Cross, and all the other health insurers in the country just started taking a hard look at their stock option plans.
On the other side of the ledger--the side making New Zealand more attractive to me--the president essentially said that only stupid undocumented immigrants show up to immigration court. This goes along with his general belief that following the law is for suckers. And coming in the same debate in which he reiterated his "rapists and murderers" view of immigrants, it really showcased his unfitness to lead a country where fewer than 1% of its families can claim to have lived here for 500 or more years.
Other reactions, from home and abroad:
- The Guardian: the president "has given up trying to articulate a plan."
- Le Monde: the president "needed a striking victory to change the dynamic of the election. This wasn't the case."
- El Universal: "nada cambia." (Nothing changed.)
- The Toronto Star: "final debate is calmer amid the campaign storm."
- The Washington Post: The changes to the debate format "all worked. There were far fewer interruptions — perhaps because Trump recognized it didn’t really work for him last time, but also because of the changes — and there was a far more substantive exchange on the issues." Still, the president said nothing new.
- The New York Times: "Biden’s win is also a function of a solid performance focused on real issues, in contrast with the president’s decision to spend most of the debate on the deep lore of the Fox Cinematic Universe."
Of course, last night's debate won't change a thing. About a third of the electorate, including I, have already voted. The number of truly undecided voters this cycle wouldn't make a dent in the Tampa Bay Rays fan base. And as the man himself pointed out last night, we're only one Scaramucci (11 days) from the polls closing.