“I don’t know where he comes from,” Joe Biden confessed in frustration Thursday night. “Queens,” Donald Trump informed.
The president’s depiction of where Joe Biden hails from — The Swamp — proved more revelatory.
Donald Trump, particularly given the context of the boisterous first debate, won the second one. He came off gentlemanly rather than boorish. He made his points without alienating the audience.
“You’re ‘the big guy,’ I think,” Trump said of his opponent. “Your son said we have to give 10 percent to the big man. Joe, what’s that all about? It’s terrible.” The former vice president denied profiting off his son’s foreign dealings and even lamely blamed the story, buttressed by the physical evidence of Hunter Biden’s computer and the CEO of his company confirming the authenticity of the emails, on the Russians. (Joe Biden sounds an awful lot like the protagonist of Bob Dylan’s “Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues” these days.)
“They’re like a vacuum cleaner,” Trump said in Nashville of Biden’s family members. “They’re sucking up money everywhere they go.”
Biden allowed an “in” for Trump to attack when he invoked Rudy Giuliani preemptively. Kristen Welker, morphing from moderator to participant, nervously interrupted (Fox News offered a preliminary count of 24 interruptions of Trump and just two of Biden by the NBC reporter) on several occasions when Trump attempted to revisit the scandal. Like NPR, Twitter, and Facebook, Welker clearly felt uncomfortable with the audience knowing much about the subject even if she felt compelled to raise it at one point.
When Biden attempted to change that uncomfortable subject, Trump responded, “Just a typical politician, I’m not a typical politician. That’s why I got elected. Let’s get off the subject of China. Let’s talk around sitting around the table. Come on, Joe. You can do better.”
For Biden’s part, he offered “C’mons,” often followed by “man” or “folks,” as rebuttals on seven separate occasions, including on one dubious point when he claimed, “We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded the rest of Europe.” Did he learn this in the same history book that taught him that President Franklin Roosevelt responded to the stock market crash of 1929 by addressing the nation on television?
Biden’s nose grew when he boasted that “not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare.” When over a million Americans lost their plans in 2013 in the wake of the passage of Obamacare, PolitiFact famously dubbed President Obama’s if-you-like-your-plan-you-can-keep-your-plan rhetoric as its “lie of the year.”
“I have never said I opposed fracking,” Biden maintained. He challenged Trump to show the tape. The moment the debate ended, Trump did just that by tweeting out video of Biden pushing for a ban on fracking on numerous occasions. Biden, who boasted “my reputation is for honor and telling the truth,” did not tell the truth here. More importantly, the energy issue revealed the extent to which the Democratic nominee embraces fringe positions.
The former vice president’s shocking statements on oil raised an important question: Is the Unabomber Joe Biden’s energy adviser?
“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden, taking the president’s bait, admitted. “The oil industry pollutes.” He argued, “It has to be replaced by renewable energy.”
Why stop there? Why not announce a ban on yoga pants and cancel Christmas? It truly played out as Biden’s Bananas moment, that part in the Woody Allen film when the leader of the revolutionaries reveals his plan to make Swedish the official language of San Marcos and decrees that citizens must wear underwear on the outside of their clothes. Perhaps another pop-culture vision, everyone Fred Flintstoning their cars with their feet, entered other minds.
When he tasted his foot in his mouth, Biden meekly said of the president: “He takes everything out of context.”
Donald Trump, particularly given the context of the boisterous first debate, won the second one. He came off gentlemanly rather than boorish. He made his points without alienating the audience. When not on his home turf, he deftly shifted to friendlier terrain, such as when he turned Welker’s question about 20 million possibly losing coverage through Obamacare to 180 million possibly losing private coverage through Biden’s socialistic schemes. He benefited from several unforced errors, none as profoundly stupid and extreme as Joe Biden’s pledge to “transition” from oil and gas to solar panels and windmills and much else to tilt at.
Trump scored points in painting Biden as incompetent and out-of-touch in such one-liners as, “See, it’s all talk, no action with these politicians,” “We can’t lock ourselves in a basement like Joe does,” “I ran because of you,” and “You’re going to sit there in a cubicle wrapped in plastic?”
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Biden did himself favors by reassuring, “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country,” and pledging to see neither a red nor a blue America but just an America. But his very, very memorable moment came when he offered a Luddite “solution” to the “problem” of oil and gas. When Joe Biden entered politics, Democrats worried about a petroleum shortage. Now they seek to ban what they once sought to make plentiful.