Here’s the thing: He is the fairest moderator we can hope for in today’s Left-dominated media. Select him over Candy Crowley, Lester Holt, and all the other prejudiced anchors any day. Wallace’s problem is orthopedic: He has to bend over backwards as far as he can without breaking his back. Fox News has an inferiority complex. All the other children in the media kindergarten won’t let Fox play in their sandbox. So instead of Fox simply building their own sandbox, they desperately want to be accepted as one of the kids. Fox was devastated psychologically last year when the DNC would not allow them to host a Democrat primary debate. So Chris Wallace, just as his Fox handlers, is obsessed with being “fair and balanced” while simultaneously giving just enough extra edge to Joe Biden so as to persuade the Democrats to let Fox News host one of their debates in four years, and — more importantly — to persuade Biden personally to give Fox access to the White House if Biden gets elected. In the end, Wallace called out the president for his frequent interruptions — a fair thing to do — without calling out Biden for his frequent interruptions, leaving it unbalanced. Biden uttered some insults that were as “unpresidential” as could be: “Shut up”? He told his debating opponent to “Shut up”? My Mother of blessed memory taught me decades ago, when I was a teen, never to say that to someone (e.g., my sisters, all of whom were younger), so I never again dared do so. Wallace likewise did not allow Trump the time to lay out the valid point that Biden simply is not smart, as documented by public records that exposed Biden years ago as finishing towards the bottom of his law school class, after Biden had lied about having excelled academically. For those of us disappointed with Wallace, what moderator will be better, since we do not get choices like Brit Hume, Shannon Bream, and Bret Baier?
The thing was not so much a “debate” as a food fight. A major part of the problem is that the hosting network and anchor want to make “The Rules.” But it is not about the moderator; it is about the candidates. On the important issues of the day — the Supreme Court, Law and Order, COVID, the Economy — it is absurd to set a format that limits speakers to two minutes per issue. Even a quick television commercial consumes one minute, and such ads first are drafted and edited and honed and tested until perfected. It is not reasonable to expect human beings, speaking extemporaneously on profoundly complex issues, to limit their expositions to two extemporaneous minutes per topic. If each side had been allowed three or four minutes per issue, there would be more reasonable opportunity to lay out a vision, and there would be less need to interrupt the other guy in order to get in some more points. When third-party moderators limit the speaker to two minutes, when he reasonably needs another minute or two to present substance, they practically invite the debater to “buy” more time by butting into the other guy’s time. The networks and moderators should let each guy talk for three or even four minutes on each topic and then guarantee two more minutes to reply. “The Rules” invited the Food Fight.
Trump has done more in 47 months than Biden did in 47 years. That is the Executive Summary of the debate and this election.
In my career of debating, I make it a practice of laser-beaming onto any key issue that the other guy keeps evading, and I become like a determined dog that won’t let go of the other guy’s trousers. I once debated on TV an Arab Muslim Israel-hater from CAIR who refused to condemn Hamas as terrorists, evading the moderator’s question: “Would you agree that Hamas is a terrorist group?” He just would not answer. I did not let go of that. All through the debate I kept returning to the evaded question, pressing him to say whether Hamas are terrorists. He never would answer, and I just kept coming back to it again and again. The next day I got enormously positive feedback that nothing had been as striking in the debate as how he would not answer. In that same way, I would have liked to see Trump keep pressing Biden all 90 minutes on whether he would veto any effort to “pack” the Supreme Court. Biden does not want to answer that question and will not answer it because if he says he would veto, he loses the Ocasio wing, and if he says he would allow “court packing,” he loses the Independents. Biden will evade that question at all costs. Therefore, although Trump made the point briefly once, I would have liked Trump to have grabbed onto Biden’s leg — figuratively! — and not to have let go all night long, no matter the topic at hand: “By the way, Joe, you still have not answered Chris Wallace’s question. You can run, Joe, but you can’t hide from the American people: Will you condemn — here and now — any suggestion that the Supreme Court should be packed?” And just keep on it all night.
Trump did a good job getting Biden on the record, unequivocally denying that Hunter got paid $3.5 million by that wife of the mayor of Moscow, and zillions more by Burisma and China. Biden called those allegations lies. Biden could not have been more unequivocal: lies, all lies, Biden assured us; Hunter never got a dime from the Chinese or the Russian. Trump should grab tightly onto Biden’s other leg — figuratively! — through the next two debates, not letting go of that one. The GOP campaign advertisers should run ads, juxtaposing Biden denying Hunter’s corruption and paydays with facts and clips of testimony about Hunter and Burisma. Hammer in that Biden is a liar. For that matter, I would love to see some ads that show clips of Neil Kinnock, the British Labour leader of yore, telling voters his personal life story — and then Joe Biden plagiarizing the story. For half a century, the guy has been corrupt and a liar, and a new generation needs to see that it is he, not Trump, who is the lying Pinocchio in the room. He already is the Democrat Left’s marionette.
Trump got one “Deer in the Headlights” moment out of Biden when Trump conveyed all the law-enforcement endorsements he has and then challenged Biden to name just one that he has. I initially thought Trump slightly erred because, if Biden has just one such endorsement, then it lets Joe off that hook. So, if I were Trump, I would have rattled off my list of endorsements and then challenged Biden to tell us all of his — that way, one single endorsement would seem pathetic. But it worked out even better when Trump challenged Biden to name even one, and Joe could not name a single one. Chris Wallace kept getting in the way at moments like that, which called for simple silence. It’s like Vin Scully, when he called the last half inning of the crazy Mets–Boston Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the one where Mookie Wilson’s dribbler got through Bill Buckner’s legs. This was one of the greatest examples in baseball history of a great announcer, right here at this link. At the critical moment of drama (start watching and listening at 4:18), Vin Scully did what only a gifted “moderator” like him could do — he shut his mouth completely for one minute and 47 seconds. Sure, he is paid to talk, to “announce.” But he perceived that the best “announcing” he could do at that moment was to let the natural drama seep in for all who experienced the moment. If Wallace were a great moderator, he just would have remained silent for a few moments and allowed the drama to seep in that Biden could not name a single police endorsement. Likewise, he earlier would have followed up himself on Biden’s “packing the court” evasion, and he would have allowed a moment of silence to seep in so that viewers could grasp the drama of a presidential candidate who will not answer a fundamental public policy question. I am a professional speaker, sometimes a kibbitzer, sometimes a scholarly law professor, sometimes a motivational speaker, depending on my audience and which hat I am wearing. When I speak motivationally, some of my most powerful moments are when I remain quiet for a moment and allow a thought to seep in for dramatic impact.
Biden pulled another “Slow Joe” moment when he denied that Antifa exists except as a “concept.” Actually, democracy is a concept. Socialism is a concept. The bald lie of “Systemic Racism” is a concept. But Antifa is people. A night of window-smashing and store arson and shooting firebursts at federal buildings is not a “concept.” Biden simply is not in touch. That same out-of-touch aspect was evident when Biden reflected no clue as to what goes on at critical-race-theory/diversity-training seminars. I personally have been attending these things for years. My first one was in 1998 at the now-defunct once-powerhouse Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe California law firm. With its headquarters based in San Francisco, they were among the first powerhouse law firms to require all their attorneys to undergo diversity training. These were attorneys who should have been billing at $500 an hour and more. Instead, they forced all of us to undergo a few days of that thing. It cost them a small fortune in lost billing hours — they eventually went bankrupt — and it was a complete waste of time, pure leftist indoctrination and attempted brainwashing. At the time I was a mid-level associate and just shut my mouth and did what I was supposed to do, but I still remember some of the partners cursing softly all day long over what a piece of bunk (not their word) the whole thing was. And what was so great — because it always is this way — is that the conservatives and the apolitical moderates among us had no race issues that needed educating, but the uber-liberal managing partner of the office herself eventually got replaced after a series of incidents of insults, culminating with an incident that almost split the office open when she said certain things with denigrating ethnic implication to a junior associate of Native American heritage. That set most of the associates on the warpath. (She also had said some remarkably bigoted things to me as an Orthodox Jew, but I had learned earlier in life to absorb that garbage as the price of admission.)
A few years later, I actually voluntarily signed up for yet another course like that to get certified in Diversity Training. In today’s Cancel Culture campus world, it is as valuable on a résumé as my having been a federal appellate court clerk. I am certified in Diversity. The course was OK. Amid all the liberal-progressive brainwashing, I learned some interesting stuff about the Chinese Exclusion Act and about the sociology of different generations of Americans. Every week, the group would gather to have Saturday lunch at another ethnic restaurant reflecting that week’s Identity group — a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, an Indian restaurant, a Black “soul food” restaurant. I approached the guy running the program and explained that, with all the sensitivity training, no one seemed to give a damn that I could not attend any of those group lunches because, as an Orthodox Jew: (i) I am limited to eating only certified kosher foods, and (ii) I cannot attend those things anyway on my Sabbath. He blew it off, week after week. In other words, sensitivity and diversity has its limits. That, too, was an education. I got my certificate. Trump is right to stop those forced leftist-progressive indoctrinations. They are not about training sensitivity. You want sensitivity training? Go to a marriage counselor. Those programs are about guilting Caucasians over their “White Privilege” and into feeling shame that they are Americans. In reality, if America is so horrible to minorities like Asians, Chicanos, others among Latinos — why do millions of such people risk their lives to come here? Jews, for example, never risked their lives to immigrate into Nazi Germany. Why do all those others risk everything to come here? Biden has no clue what goes on in those programs. They are not about sitting around a Victrola and playing 33 RPM records. This cannot be explained in two minutes.
Trump did get a brief chance to point out that states run by Democrat governors are staying closed until after Election Day in order to hurt him, as those governors convey the impression that the economic slowdowns in their states are Trump’s fault. He is right, and it is a shame that so many Americans are so gullible, so dense, and so easily manipulated by cynical politicians and the media. That is why it always rankles when conservative talking heads on Fox News begin their comments with “The American people are too smart to be fooled.” No, they’re not. “The American people see right through this.” No, they don’t. But Trump briefly extracted from Biden a hint that a Democrat win will close down the nation’s economy. Moreover, if Biden wins, he also will tax “The Rich” and thereby will bring on a cataclysmic recession, as The Rich move their money off-shore, small businesses get taxed out of operation, and a nation sits in their homes under lockdown.
In all, the debate probably was a draw, and it may even have helped Biden a bit. Trump needed to win over more White, married, female suburban voters. I am not sure that all his interrupting advanced that goal. He certainly reinforced his base support. Biden needed to seem coherent and not senile; he met that challenge because he was not given time to ramble and bumble. If he had been given four uninterrupted minutes per question, my guess is that he would have left behind some memorable gaffes. But since he was speaking in spurts of 15 to 30 seconds, with nary a chance to go beyond 120 seconds in a row, he was denied the chance to blunder. He avoided insulting his Ocasio wing or scaring Independents. In sum, Trump was better prepared, had more facts, better arguments, but Biden held on with Wallace enabling him to get off the ropes.