John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


My Deep Thoughts About the Debate

Posted on October 1, 2020

I don’t trust my own reactions to Presidential debates.


I thought Donald Trump lost every debate in 2016, primary and general, and yet he was able to somehow find himself taking the oath of office from the West Front of the Capitol in January of 2017.


Trump is not a gifted debater, not in the traditional sense.


But who cares?


Who cares if he missed a myriad of opportunities to score points against the hapless Joe Biden?


Who cares if he left the former Vice President off the hook by basically bailing him out every time he badly stumbled on an easy question?


Who cares if he quickly changed the subject when Biden wouldn’t answer the moderator’s questions on packing the court?


Who cares if he made a stupid comment that inspired the Proud Boys, a group of right-wing zealots who are spoiling to fight a group of left-wing zealots?


I was exhausted by the debate, much like I am exhausted by the watching 15 minutes of the Jerry Springer Show.


Jerry Springer once thought about running for political office.  I wonder why he didn’t run for President.  He could have fit right in.


I must admit I was offended when Mr. Biden called the President of the United States a clown.


A clown.  What, is he here to amuse you?


And for years, parents have been telling their children to not say rude things like, “Shut Up, Man.”


But there was Sleepy Joe, waking up just enough to inspire a whole new line of t-shirts.


Reminds me of when Bryce Harper complained about a line of inquiry from a sports reporter:  “That’s a clown question, bro.”


I think I still have that t-shirt somewhere in my closet.


The funny thing about this debate is that no matter how much we all hated it, we all stayed to watch it.  In fact, the ratings for the last 15 minutes were higher than for the first 15 minutes.


That is some impressive staying power for an audience that seemed to be so universally horrified that their political leaders would act so poorly in public.


But what did we all expect?


This is America as how it is, not America as we all would like it.


An America where Jerry Springer thrives.  An America that loves, and I mean loves, professional wrestling.  An America that watches, religiously, television shows like Big Brother.  An America that made Carol Baskin famous, not only for being the star of the Tiger King but also for appearing on Dancing with the Stars.  And talking of Dancing with the Stars, an America that would continue to vote for Sean Spicer as one of the best celebrity dancers in the world, despite the obvious fact that he could barely cha-cha-cha.


This America consumes its news not through calm deliberation and a well-reasoned and deeply considered analysis of the facts.  This America watches slug-fests on cable television (as long as the hosts agree with their vision of the world) and then votes according to its tribal instincts.


In this America we live in, we get Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden.


Trump was born for this kind of debate.  He is abrasive, angry, ill-prepared, uncareful, instinctual, unrepentant and whatever the opposite of cautious is.


Biden never would have been able to survive in an earlier, more decorous era and while he doesn’t thrive in this one, at least he was able to every bit as rude as his opponent.  Biden is not deep enough to spit out facts, not awake enough to remember his platform.  But he could be every bit as jerky as Donald Trump, and I guess that counts for something.


Trump didn’t spend more than 10 minutes thinking about this debate and his lack of preparation was pretty obvious to anybody who watched it.


Biden, on the other hand, spent weeks getting ready, practicing with whatever high-priced Washington lawyer they could find to prepare him for the Trump onslaught.


But there is no preparing for an onslaught like Donald Trump.  You just have to go with the flow.


Just like the rest of us.