New York Post:
A hot mess does not make for a great debate. Or an interesting one or even an entertaining one.
America was mistreated Tuesday. A highly anticipated showdown in a closely fought presidential election in a deeply divided country had the potential to be a clarifying moment.
Instead, it was a sweaty, formless flop. Worse, it was annoying. Neither the candidates nor moderator Chris Wallace acquitted themselves well.
Joe Biden was sharp and coherent enough, though he relied heavily on notes in front of him. He didn’t exactly raise the bar of decorum with his name-calling, alternately labeling President Trump a clown, a liar and a racist. Ho hum.
Yet the bulk of the blame falls on Trump, who came with a clear plan and executed it flawlessly. Unfortunately, it was a very bad plan.
From the get-go, the president was determined to rattle Biden by being a persistent interrupter, rarely letting the former vice president finish two consecutive sentences. On occasion, his interjections were smart, but mostly, they made him look boorish.
There’s nothing worse than three people talking over each other on television. You can’t really hear anyone and it’s frustrating to try.
Wallace repeatedly scolded Trump, reminding him that his campaign had agreed to the rules. Not good moments for a president whose personality is a drag on his policies for many of the voters he will need to win over if he’s to get a second term.
Frankly, I was surprised at Trump’s approach. It was an example of all tactics and no strategy. He interrupted even when Biden was stumbling, which had the effect of letting Biden off the hook and out of the rhetorical weeds.
Still, the plan worked on occasion, most effectively involving Hunter Biden. Joe Biden was trying to make an emphatic point about his late son, Beau, serving in the military when Trump jumped in to demand he explain how Hunter made millions from businesses in China, Ukraine and Russia once his father became vice president.
It’s a legitimate line of inquiry and all Joe could do was say it’s not true. But it is true. We know it. The records are public.