Two Paths Diverged In The Woods: The Last Debate

By Michael Patrick, Ph.D.

Following politics is an odd sport. We love and despise it, and endure it mostly out of necessity. So much is at stake in this wierd 2020 season. It’s no small wonder that more than 73-plus million U.S. viewers tuned in to the debates, and countless millions more watched worldwide.

As a veteran of covering elections in the U.S. and abroad, I relished swapping stories with Chinese journalist Mengfei Li and his Beijing audiences in last night’s post-game chatter.

My hunch is that polls are fairly meaningless this time when gauging the outcome of what will prove record voter turnout. More than 47 million Americans, most alive and a few imaginary or dead, have already cast their ballots.

How did the “Trump versus Biden” show go? Easily better than last episode, with enough fireworks to keep it interesting.

The wild card event was the Biden China scandal, which partisan media tried, but failed to censor, spin, and hush up for days. They readily suggest that it must be another “Russian” plot , without bothering to ask a single serious question or produce evidence.

MSNBC journalists have remained silent about the thousands of photos, emails, and documents with nary a curious question. Nonetheless, MSNBC moderator Kristen Welker knew she could no longer dodge when Tony Bobulinski, former Biden company CEO in China, appeared at the debate as Trump’s guest. Tony was packing three cell phones loaded with years of exchanges tying “Big Guy” Joe to family influence-peddling schemes.

The F.B.I. already has a laptop brimming with evidence that they obtained in December, 2019. Trump described it as “the laptop from hell” as public interest grows about Biden influence-peddling with his sons in places such as China, Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere.

Biden stated flatly that he has never taken any foreign money. He dismissed the laptop quickly as “Russian disinformation, but offered no evidence to explain documents or to support his claim. Unfortunately for him, national security sources have already found far too much corroboration of the hard evidence in documents and photos to wishfully excuse it away.

Biden questioned the President’s own business deals. Trump readily explained that he had a bank account opened in China as a businessman in 2013 and closed it in 2015 before becoming a candidate. He said this normal and legal business practice was fully disclosed and on the record.

Meanwhile, many questions and documents about Biden’s dealings remain unacknowledged and unanswered.

The Biden family scandal might fall into the category of acceptable pocket-lining shenanigans that most Americans have sadly grown to accept from politicians who became millionaires in public service. After all, how many of us have things we might not want made public on our laptops and phones.

Some lurid disclosures about Hunter in the latest batch of nonsense has kept us cringingly amused. Bottom line for Joe: the visible, overarching pattern of enriching relatives and engaging in “pay for play” with U.S. foreign policy does throw trust into doubt.

I chuckled when Biden chided Trump, referring to him as “Abraham Lincoln here….” after Trump argued he had done more than others since Lincoln, including more than Biden accomplished, to create jobs, fund black colleges, and change fortunes for black Americans and their families.

The stand-out moment for me was captured in the starting remarks. Trump opened optimistically in tone and substance about the future. He spoke of efforts to deliver vaccines quickly and about the need to safeguard vulnerable people . He also reinforced reopening schools and businesses in light of damaging social destruction and abuse, from suicide to addictions, following the collapse of jobs and businesses.

By contrast, Biden struck an alarming tone, touting Covid death tolls and speaking of a dark winter coming to America. Sounded eerily like Game of Thrones, except Biden is no Jon Snow.

Biden made his case that he would prove that he is his own man, for instance, renaming Obamacare as “Bidencare”. Biden argued his case for a different America, including actions to end to America’s systemic racism, a welcoming home for more immigrants, no jail time for illegal drugs, a fast transition to energy alternatives, and affordable health care for everyone.

By contrast, President Trump said the whole world was hit hard by Covid, including America’s record economy. He argued that after lessons learned by everyone, everything is underway to beat the pandemic without destroying the country.

He said he would advance his proven record in rebuilding the country. Bottom line: Trump repeatedly argued that Biden had eight years in office with Obama, and he failed to deliver on his promises. Trump ended by stressing that Biden was a politician who was “all talk and no action”. Trump said flatly, “You’re the reason I ran in the first place.”

President Trump’s unyielding attitude and rough edges were still present. Defenders would say some of his temperament is why he was able to keep pushing forward despite years under seige while cleaning the swamps.

This election is not about choosing between two different solutions to routine issues; rather, it is about choosing between two starkly different views of America and its future.

The real question left is whether Americans are prepared now to rebuild the flawed nation they’ve known with Trump or embrace a new nation based on the promises and progressive dreams of Uncle Joe.

The floods in voter turnout will produce a rising tide of change. Whether Trump remains at the helm will be apparent in a matter of days. May America enjoy the future that it has earned.

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