Stoneage Ramblings

By John R. Stone

I missed the start and the early parts of the recent presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.

That was probably OK since when I did catch up with the debate I could only watch about 15 minutes of it. I knew if I watched the rest of it I wouldn’t sleep that night.

What I saw was shocking to me. Two elderly men talking to each other like nine-year-olds on the school playground at recess. It was anything but presidential.

It was the part where President Biden talked about how some historians had decided that Trump had been the worst present ever, but he couldn’t remember how many had been polled to come to that conclusion. Trump, of course, couldn’t let that pass and replied that Biden was and would be the worst president ever.

Two grown elderly men, one of whom could be the leader of the free world in six months, talking like kids on the playground. Unreal.

Newspapers the following day ran the story of the debate along side a fact check of what the two men had said. Both had made misstatements of fact, but Trump was the clear winner in that category, one report said there were 30 such statements.

Biden had claimed no U.S. soldiers died on his watch, which was incorrect. Depending upon the publication, one said it was 13 and another 16. Neither referred to any of the soldiers who died in training accidents. They are just as dead as those killed by enemies of the state and their families every bit as harmed.

Trump had a doozy that taxes would go up 4 times (did that mean four times as high, it wasn’t clear) under Biden. That was not true. Of course he (nor Biden) didn’t mention that his 2017 tax cut plan that favored the wealthy expires in 2025 because it wasn’t funded fully at the time. By going to 2025 it would have, at the time, ended after his second term had he won reelection in 2020. If the cuts aren’t renewed, taxes will go up no matter who is president.

The next morning I listened to Michael Smerconish on SiriusXM while driving. He was interviewing an experienced debate moderator to get his take on the event. Talk about fact checking came up.

The debate moderator said that it was not the job of the moderators to fact check the debaters. It was the job of the debaters to point out the errors in fact presented by their opponent. I think he was right, if the moderators start fact checking as it goes along the audience will sense a bias toward the debaters, especially if one uses more falsehoods than the other.

In a debate like that one expects each candidate to cast a good light on his accomplishments. They might go as far as to say that their policies were the best ever or did the best job ever to solve a particular problem.

This one was much more personal. Biden pointed out that Trump was now a convicted felon, which was true. But then Trump comes back with something like “you could be a convicted felon” as kind of a threat the Trump would find some way to get Biden convicted of a crime.

Smerconish pointed out one other thing. Was Biden not coached about always looking at the camera? Both men’s faces were on the split screen whether they were talking or not. Trump always looked at the camera and smiled and smirked. Biden didn’t, and often looked really tired and old. The difference between the two was stark.

Some were calling for Biden to step aside as a presidential candidate for reelection after the debate. The next day he had a rally where he looked livelier. But you can’t erase the image of the man on Thursday night of the debate.

Nearly a year ago I wrote that both Republicans and Democrats should seek younger, better candidates for the presidency in 2024. I didn’t see anything in the debate and its coverage that would change my mind.

I also sent a letter to our representative in Congress the same day. Got a call from a person who said she was a staff member and that she couldn’t show the letter to Rep. Fischbach because it was a campaign issue. So I sent a letter to the campaign office March 4 and haven’t anything there, either.