Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Thoughts on the first debate
On Your Right
It’s never pretty when three grown men act in ways that would shame a sleep-deprived 5-year-old. It’s worse when two of them think being a naughty child is the best way to be elected president and the third can’t think of a way to convince them it’s not.
There was no real winner in last Tuesday’s presidential debate, but the clear loser was the American people. Although I watched, the following is based on a transcript from Gannett.
Important issues drowned in the cacophony. The first came from the question about confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The grandstanding and histrionics concealed an important dichotomy: President Donald Trump made a classical constitutional point echoing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The president is the president for all four years after inauguration. When former Vice President Joe Biden countered that “the American people have a right to have a say,” he used the “popular will” argument progressives have embraced for a hundred years: It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says; what the largest and loudest faction wants, they should get. A more perfect formula for majoritarian tyranny could not be invented if the devil put in a year’s worth of overtime. Be very afraid.
A difficulty in dealing with Biden is uncertainty: Do his bald-faced untruths come from decades of practiced lying as a politician, or does he forget what he’s said or endorsed? He denied backing the Green New Deal in the debate, either not remembering that his embrace of it was on his campaign website or thinking voters were too uninterested or too stupid to check. Neither is good.
He refused to answer questions. Asked if he would support “court-packing,” adding enough new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure a reliable progressive bench, and if he supported ending the U.S. Senate tradition of the filibuster, he demurred, saying, “Whatever position I take on that, that will become the issue.” An astute response might have been: “Duh. It’s a vital issue, and your refusal to answer just made it more so.”
Biden reprised that performance on a question about supporting Black Lives Matter. Evidently, that group no longer polls well with the suburbanites he covets. He refused to tell the moderator if he had called the mayor of Portland, Oregon, to urge action against rioters there. “I’m not in public office,” he replied, evidently forgetting he’s a candidate for president whose attitude toward organized thuggery might be of interest. He did, however, take the time to accuse the president of “pouring gas on a fire” in Portland.
He again opined that Trump was a racist, falsely insinuating that when he remarked, “There are good people on both sides” in the 2017 Charlottesville riots he was referring to night-marching knuckleheads. He wasn’t. The remark was in response to a question about controversy over statues of former Confederate leaders. About racists and racism, he had this to say in the aftermath of Charlottesville: “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Not quite so racist as Democrats and the media would have one believe.
Biden has other problems with facts. When discussing the economy, he remarked that manufacturing jobs disappeared under Trump, but comparing January 2016 to January 2020, one discovers Trump presided over about 500,000 more jobs before the Chinese virus shut down the economy. Similarly, Biden claimed to have “brought energy prices down,” but Bureau of Labor statistics show the price of electricity rose 14% during the Obama presidency. Natural gas prices did decline, but only because of fracking — which Biden opposes.
Then there’s the Green New Deal, which Biden eventually came around to supporting. He said the multitrillion-dollar mare’s nest will “pay for itself” through “millions of jobs.” The Obama administration had a similar, if smaller, program. Its most notable result was Solyndra.
Alas, none of this matters. This election is not about returning to the prosperity Americans enjoyed before COVID. It’s not about defending our country, establishing justice or offering Americans a government that will not infringe on their liberties. It isn’t about beneficial policies or promises kept. This election will turn on a single question: whether the party of acceptance and tolerance can whip up enough hatred against fellow citizens who do not think or act as they do to carry the day.
It’s a close question. Consider that, and vote.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at email@example.com.
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