The crucial moment in Tuesday night’s debate was near the end when Joe Biden invited President Trump to throw the Proud Boys under the bus, and the president refused to do it. The president was asked by moderator Chris Wallace “to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland.” Trump replied, “Sure, I’m willing to do that,” but then added that “almost everything I see” in terms of violence “is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing. I’m willing to do anything.… I want to see peace.”
But Trump had a clear strategy: Show dominance, and force Biden to disavow the left-wing policies most popular with the Democratic Party’s radical wing.
After further back-and-forth, Trump said, “Give me a name,” and Biden said, “Proud Boys.” To this, Trump replied: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about Antifa and the Left, because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem.”
Because I personally know both Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and the group’s current chairman Enrique Tarrio, I was pleased by that response. The idea that the Proud Boys are a dangerous “white supremacist” organization is a myth created by the left-wing media, and it took courage for the president of the United States to stand tough in that moment.
The liberal media, of course, was scandalized, but who is rioting in Portland? Who attacked police and set up an “autonomous zone” in Seattle? Who has engaged in looting and arson in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and other major cities in the past several weeks? Hint: not the Proud Boys.
Much of what happened onstage Tuesday at Case Western University was an embarrassment. Wallace’s performance as moderator pleased no one, and the candidates took turns interrupting each other. Joe Biden resorted to calling the president a “clown.” Many conservative viewers complained that, whenever Trump had Biden on the ropes, Wallace intervened to protect the Democrat. But Trump had a clear strategy: Show dominance, and force Biden to disavow the left-wing policies most popular with the Democratic Party’s radical wing. In both of these objectives, Trump was successful. Amid the rough-and-tumble exchanges, Trump was constantly the aggressor, and he repeatedly compelled Biden to distance himself from such policies as defunding police, single-payer health care, and the “Green New Deal.”
Trump slugged away on numerous issues, including the dubious foreign endeavors of Biden’s son Hunter and Biden’s support for the rioters and other criminals who have turned America’s cities into chaotic hellscapes:
Trump: “He doesn’t have any law enforcement support. He doesn’t have any law enforcement support.”
Biden: “That’s not true. That’s not … look … ”
Trump: “Oh really, who do you have? Name one group that supports you. Name one group that came out in support of you.”
Biden: “Look, look we don’t have time to do anything except … ”
Trump: “No, no, think about it. Name one law enforcement group that came out in support of you. There aren’t, I don’t think there are any.”
Biden had nothing to say in response, and looked weak. Halfway through the debate, Biden supporter Andrew Sullivan lamented, “Trump is dominating. That’s the brutal truth. It’s painful. So far.” Minutes later, Sullivan added, “I’ve never seen Biden seem so old or so weak. He can’t land a strong blow. He’s being successfully heckled. I want to look away.” It didn’t get better for Biden after that, as the 77-year-old former vice president seemed to get tired.
We do not know who “won” the debate, in terms of public opinion. Probably very few minds were changed. People who don’t like Trump going into the debate are unlikely to have been persuaded by his domineering performance. On the other hand, many Democratic voters were probably demoralized after watching their guy get pushed around for an hour and a half. PJMedia blogger Stephen Green summed up the evening: “Biden didn’t collapse, which is probably good enough for him and his campaign.”
The Proud Boys, of course, were ecstatic over the president’s shout-out. They took the president’s words — “Stand back and stand by” — and incorporated it into their group’s logo. Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who has allowed Antifa mobs to riot in Portland for months, took her cue to again denounce the Proud Boys as “white supremacists.” What Democrats don’t seem to understand is that there are millions of Americans who are sick and tired of being called racists, and these American voters know which party hates them. It’s Joe Biden’s party.
Americans will have their say on November 3. Stand back and stand by.