I have been covering presidential debates for 32 years, and what I witnessed Tuesday night from Cleveland, Ohio, was not a debate but a shame-provoking disaster.
The only one responsible was the chaotic President Donald Trump, who, unable to exchange ideas decently, resorted to interruptions, childish things, low personal attacks, shameless lies and, incidentally, winked at white supremacists saying “Stand back and be prepared.”
Besides embarrassment, there was a moment when I felt revulsion, such as when the Democratic presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, was talking about his deceased military son, Beau Biden, and Trump interrupted him to throw mud at Biden’s other son, Hunter, saying he was released from military service for using cocaine. Biden, turning his gaze to the viewer, showed humanity, decency and fatherly love by stating that his son had an addiction problem, as happens in so many families, but he overcame it.
The stalker-in-chief manifested himself in his greatest splendor. But is anyone surprised that Trump displayed disgraceful behavior and once again trampled on the US presidential office? Sadly not.
Trump was only speaking to his base, because I doubt very much that with his show he has convinced some undecided, women, independents or Republicans disaffected with his administration.
Trump came out with the knife in his mouth to offer a catalog of lies, exaggerations and conspiracy theories on a variety of topics, from the economy and its laughable taxes, to climate change.
And once again he minimized the devastation of Covid-19 in American families, while already the death toll exceeds 205 thousand.
Because throughout the night Trump portrayed himself as a victim, even Biden’s, and again referred to his conspiracy theory that Barack Obama spied on him before and after the 2016 election.
But two of the moments that most captured the chaos in which Trump likes to move was when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and militias that, according to the FBI itself, are elements responsible for violence in the protests of some cities of the country and domestic terrorism. Trump asked Wallace to name one, and Biden mentioned the Proud Boys, a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Trump told them, “Proud Boys, stand back and be prepared.”
Was it a message that they are ready to fight for the November 3 results if they don’t favor Trump?
The other is when Trump again refused to say whether he will recognize the election results and whether he will ask his followers for calm. If anything, he did the opposite. He dedicated himself to continuing to raise doubts about the veracity of the electoral system and talking about a rampant “fraud” that only exists in his head, in order to continue generating fear in the population already affected by the pandemic, and inciting his followers.