Hostile presidential debate leaves viewers dissatisfied


Photo: Washington Post

Thomas Caputo, Staff Writer

Many Americans were left feeling disappointed and frustrated after the first face-off between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, which was arguably the most anticipated presidential debate in modern history.

The debate, which took place on Sept. 29, quickly spiraled out of control and was filled with interruptions and personal insults. Both candidates shouted over each other and never directly answered questions asked by the moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, causing some to feel cheated out of knowing where Trump and Biden stood on important issues.

Aedan McDonald, a freshman, said there was no winner in the first debate.

“I watched the debate as a comedy,” McDonald said. “The whole time no one was explaining what they would do for the country. Instead, they just brought up things to make their opponent look bad, no matter the topic.”

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that sponsors and produces presidential debates, the organization is considering changing rules during the remaining two debates, such as cutting off the microphone when one candidate cuts into the uninterrupted two minutes for the other candidate.

Luke Perry, professor of government and politics, called the debate “an unmistakable symptom of an ailing democracy.”

“Grievances and personal attacks serve Trump well at rallies and on Twitter, but is more difficult to capitalize on before a mass audience as the incumbent on a presidential debate stage,” Perry said.

Some of Trump’s memorable debate moments include refusing to condemn white supremacy and attacking Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, by bringing up his past drug addictions, accusing him of being dishonorably discharged from the military and claiming he accepted money from Russia and Ukraine.

“Biden needed to find a way to defend himself without losing his composure,” Perry said. “He did not do this particularly well, nor that poorly. Biden is not a great debater. This was an argument, not a debate. Biden benefitted from simply being less argumentative. Trump’s interruptions also limited opportunities for Wallace to press Biden on his record and positions.”

Biden’s memorable debate moments include calling Trump a “liar” and a “clown,” asking him to “shut up” and referring to him as “the worst president the United States has ever had.”

With almost one month until the presidential election, there are two more presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate scheduled. On Oct. 2 Trump confirmed that he and First Lady Melania Trump contracted COVID-19, leaving it uncertain if the two remaining presidential debates will take place.