The One Good Moment In Last Night's Debate, Except For When Biden Told Trump To STFU
In last night's dumpster fire of a debate, in among Donald Trump's lies and interruptions and direct orders to white power thugs, there were a few moments where Joe Biden made the most of his two minutes of uninterrupted time to speak directly to voters. Happily for Biden, one of the best came at the end, when Chris Wallace asked the candidates about "election integrity":
Chris Wallace: How confident should we be that this will be a fair election, and what are you prepared to do over the next five plus weeks? Because it will not only be to Election Day, but also counting some mail-in ballots after Election Day. What are you prepared to do to reassure the American people that the next president will be the legitimate winner of this election?
Biden was definitely ready for that one, and his answer was blessedly, reassuringly normal. It might not have even struck us as noteworthy at all in a presidential debate a decade ago. But in the context of last night's relentless shitstorm, in which Donald Trump made clear his main agenda is simply wrecking everything, Biden's comments were a reminder of why we need to hit the reset button on the simulation:
Joe Biden: Prepare to let people vote. They should go to Iwillvote.com, decide how they're gonna vote, when they're gonna vote, and what means by which they're gonna vote. His own Homeland Security director, and as well as the FBI director, says there is no evidence at all that mail-in ballots are a source of being manipulated and cheating. They said that.
The fact is that there are millions of people who, because of COVID, that're going to be voting by mail-in ballots, like he does, by the way. He sits behind the Resolute desk and he sends his ballot to Florida.
Doesn't that sound beautifully ordinary? Biden continued, reminding Americans that really, we've got this. We know how to do democracy; it's kind of our thing in this republic, if we can keep it:
Number two: We're gonna make sure that people who want to vote in person are able to vote because there are enough poll workers there to make sure they can socially distance, the polls are open on time, and the polls stay open until the votes are counted. [Which, OK, isn't literally true, but the point is clear — Dok]
And this is all about trying to dissuade people from voting because he's trying to scare people into thinking that it's not gonna be legitimate. Show up and vote. YOU will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote.
If you're able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you're able to vote in person, vote in person. Vote whatever is the best way for you. Because he cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election.
It says a lot about 2020 that reminding us that Donald Trump has not yet completely subverted the electoral process feels like some kind of revelation. (Just keep that army of lawyers on speed dial, Dems!) And unlike Donald Trump, who keeps spewing bafflegab when he's asked if he'll accept the outcome of the election, Biden made clear he knows what an election outcome looks like:
And in terms of whether or not, when the votes are all counted, that will be accepted. If I win, that'll be accepted; if I lose, that'll be accepted. But by the way, if in fact he says he's not sure what he's going to accept, let me tell you something: It doesn't matter. Because if we get the votes, it's gonna be all over. He's gonna go. He can't stay in power. It won't happen. It won't happen.
So vote. Just be sure and understand: you have it in your control to determine what this country's gonna look like the next four years. Is it going to change, or are you gonna get four more years of these lies?
Change, please, we hope!
Then it was Trump's turn to answer the question that was supposed to be about how he would "reassure the American people that the next president will be the legitimate winner" of the election. Instead, he went off on a bizarre rant, as is his wont:
Donald Trump: So when I listen to Joe talking about a transition. There's been no transition from when I won. I won that election. And if you look at crooked Hillary Clinton, if you look at all the different people, there was no transition, because they came after me trying to do a coup. They came after me spying on my campaign. They started from the day I won, and even before the day I won, from the day I came down the escalator with our first lady. They were a disaster, they were a disgrace to our country. And we've caught 'em! We've caught 'em all! We've got it all on tape, we've caught 'em all.
And by the way, you gave the idea for the Logan Act, against General Flynn, you better take a look at that, because we caught you in a sense, and President Obama was sitting in the office, he knew about it too, so don't tell me about a free transition.
That left a lot of people wondering what the fuck he was talking about. No transition? Hillary Clinton wouldn't let Trump take office? The fuck? We saw the photos of Obama meeting with Trump after the election. We know all about the detailed transition briefings that Trump appointees never showed up to hear. (Michael Lewis wrote a whole book about that!) We know about the pandemic plan Trump's people ignored.
But it turns out all that bullshit was Trump's garbled version of a talking point that's been going around wingnut media for a while, especially since Trump said last week he wouldn't necessarily agree to a peaceful transition if he loses. It boils down to a line that Corey Lewandowski trotted out during August's Democratic convention:
Barack Obama talked about this fact of how he was this great moral leader, except he forgot to mention he spied on the Trump campaign. It was the first time in 240 years of our nation's history there wasn't a peaceful transition of power from one president to the other. Barack Obama forgot to mention those things.
See, the real norm-breaker was Barack Obama, who sabotaged Trump at every turn, so now it's simply payback time. Never mind it's all a pack of lies. Framed this way — even if he can't articulate it — Donald Trump is the victim, so don't you go talking about a free transmission, Mr. AAMCO or whatever your name is.
Fuck that noise. Make a plan and vote. We need to vote in massive numbers, so there's no question of the outcome. And then we need to fix the damage.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.