HOW TRUMP WON THE FINAL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE.
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
So, it finally happened. A debate of substance. A debate where conversation prevailed. Yes, with interruptions, but a very constructive and informative debate. And in the end, despite the moderator's bias with her preferential and conveniently situated interruptions, and despite a selection of topics that favored Vice President Joe Biden, President Trump pulled out the victory. Not by knockout, although there were plenty of knockdowns against the former Vice President, but by decision.
First, to the Vice President's accomplishments. By far, the single most important one was his repeat demonstration that he was not demented. Yes, he stumbled and stammered at times, but he recurrently recovered and was able to restore his train of thought. And as a trained orator, the former Vice President looked particularly strong during the three occasions when he stared directly into the camera and spoke to the American people, something the President little did. Additionally, the Vice President was effective at holding the President's feet to the fire with regards to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that was the extent of it. Beyond those few stylistic and substantive points, the Vice President could not stand up to the torrent of punches that ensued.
Here's how President Trump pulled it off.
1. Why Didn't You Do It? President Trump was very effective in taking the Vice President to task on his record, or lack thereof, recurrently asking why the Vice President had not accomplished those things he was promising to accomplish in the future. The former Vice President has been in public service for forty-seven years, eight of those as Vice President, yet he has consistently not gotten the job done. "Why not?" the President repeatedly asked Mr. Biden. This tactic played particularly well for the President drung their exchange regarding healthcare where former Vice President Biden tried to paint a vision for healthcare's future, but his painting was washed out by the nagging question, "Why didn't you do it, Joe?" The ever-present truth of a career with few legislative accomplishments hit the Vice President like a ton of bricks, at one point forcing him to say, "Because I was Vice President," an explanation that fell horrendously flat.
2. Who Built the Cages, Joe? Few portions of the debate demonstrated moderator bias more than the one dealing with immigration. The question posed by Kristen Welker regarding the topic was an ethos-laden assault on the President's policies of placing children in facilities, separating them from their families. And in a hackneyed, anti-Trump recitation of the nation's experience with the matter, Ms. Welker asked why there were still over five hundred children separated from their families and whether they ever be reunited with their parents? It was a question designed to pander to the left and trip up the President, and, sure enough, the initial response from each candidate stuck to the script of the often-performed dance.
But after a few volleys, the President took command of the topic by recalling the horrors of the cages built under the Obama Administration and deceitfully placed at his feet. Particularly powerful were President Trump's repeated inquiries, "Who built the cages, Joe?" There was no response. "Who built the cages?
In fact, no effective response could be given. Score, Trump.
3. Superpredators. During the discussion on race relations where an attempt was made to paint the President as a racist, President Trump reminded the public of Biden's use of the word "superpredators" in 1994 to refer to members of the black community during the latter's attempts to pass "[his] crime bill." What's more, the President effectively pointed out that he reversed Biden's crime bill (his words), undoing the great damage that had been caused to the black community. Oh, and by the way, "Why didn't you do it, Joe?"
4. The Green New Deal Gave Way to an Oil Slick. The conversation of climate change also did not go well for the former Vice President as his recommendations to "retrofit" buildings and to achieve zero net carbon emissions collapsed under the plan's own weight. By the time President Trump was finished, the building-retrofit turned into a call for windowless buildings and wind production was dirtier and more environmentally taxing than clean gas. Additionally, the stale, meaningless, esoteric price tag of $100 trillion was brought to life by the President when he pointed out, "If we had the best year in the history of the country for one hundred years, we would not even come close to a number like that."
And as to the suggestion that scientists were behind the former Vice President's environmental proposal, President Trump quickly quipped, "You look at what he wants to do, if you look at his plan, his environmental plan, do you know who developed it? AOC plus three."
Former Vice President Biden lost even more points when President Trump forced him to admit that he would close down the oil industry because it "pollutes significantly," (Biden's words) and would discontinue its subsidies. In one of his most effective interruptions and one of the few times he actually stared at the camera, Trump said, "Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma. . . Ohio?"
5. Russia Russia Russia. But the death knell for Biden came during one of the President's many references to Hunter Biden's dealings with Russia and China. The President took ample opportunity, with specificity, to expose the recent developments regarding the Hunter Biden computer scandal, to which Biden could only respond with vague denials of impropriety. The knockdown occurred when the former Vice President claimed that the President was spreading Russian propaganda. In one of President Trump's most effective counter-punches, he asked the former Vice President in disbelief if he really was trying to sell his son's hard drive as "Russia Russia Russia." Hollowly, emptily, and unbelievably, the Vice President answered yes.
In the end, the President accomplished more than the former Vice President. The President stayed largely under control. He was not excessively rude, and he stuck to the rules. And although the technique did not knockout the former Vice President, and was not graced with soaring oratory, he opened more holes in the former Vice President's arguments than could be found in a keg of Swiss cheese.
As the debate progressed, one more sign of the Vice President's defeat materialized, his dismissive laughs. If George W. Bush was heavily criticized for staring at his watch during his debate, then Biden ought to be disqualified for his appalling body language and his attempts to dismiss the validity of the President's concerns through inappropriate laughter.
But of course, the ever-more important question is whether the victory would help the President win the race. For the answer to that question, we will have to await the results of the only poll that matters.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon living in Florida. He is a lawyer, author, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is available for speaking engagements at email@example.com