If you want the Establishment take on the debate last night you can try Karl Rove's predictable article at the WSJ. I'm with those who have noted the way Trump smoked Biden out on the issues, separating Biden repeatedly from the Bernie Bros. on issue after issue: from the Green New Deal to Medicare for all to defunding the police. For my money, here are excerpts from two smart takes on Trump's performance. The first is from Stanley Kurtz's Actually, The Debate Was About Issues--a response to the usual knuckleheads who thought it was about a lack of "civility":
I thought [the debate] was a highly entertaining exchange that helpfully spotlighted the candidates’ differences on issues.
For my money, the law-and-order segment was the decisive exchange of the night. The differences between the candidates were stark. I think Trump was likely the big winner there, ... The section on climate change versus the economy was also clarifying. ... the very different ways in which the candidates strike the balance on environment-versus-economy came through. I think that’s another winner for Trump.
... I saw a president who was sharp as a tack, well able to call up interactions he’d had with world leaders and his policy people in order to make his points. Trump was tough to the point of rudeness, as usual, but had an energy, acuity, and strength that Biden lacked. When it comes to policy details, Trump can be frustratingly thin. But when it comes to the big-picture issues and options, the president comes through. He never explained in detail why Critical Race Theory is so pernicious, for example. But I’m betting that enough voters have knowledge of these insidious indoctrination sessions and the troubling culture they’ve spawned to take the president’s point. What other politician would have had the guts to tackle this issue? A lot of voters will appreciate that.
I think this debate has reminded the relatively few voters who may have only recently tuned in to this election how profoundly the candidates differ on the direction our country should take.
That observation about Trump having the "guts" to tackle sensitive issues directly apparently resonated with Spanish speaking viewers of the Left wing Telemundo--in a Twitter poll they saw Trump as winning by a 2-1 margin. As others have observed, Trump "dominated". He was the Alpha to Biden's Beta. If you prefer a Beta as president, maybe you didn't like that. However, a lot of people, on reflection, can see the need for an Alpha as president. A Beta president would be sure to plunge the country into this type of turmoil:
There is ZERO intention for Biden to be POTUS for 4 years. He might remain in office if he wins, but a "Biden Administration" will be run by whoever is named Chief of Staff. It will be run like a Parlimentary Gov't. The Executive will effectively be the Legis. leadership.
Replying to @shipwreckedcrew
Interesting perspective! Trump had Biden on the ropes the whole debate. How is there not a serious conversation being had on Biden's (mental) ability to lead a country for four years?
12:14 PM · Sep 30, 2020·
Actually, I wonder whether SWC is underestimating Jill Biden's raw ambition. As long as Biden would hold the actual office, she would have a huge role. Can you say 'chaos'?
The second smart take is by Chris Buskirk, who addresses the character issue--What do the American people want in a leader: Trump is waging asymmetric warfare – and it’s working. This excerpt is from the concluding portion:
Trauma mining to score points in a debate is a desperately cynical piece of political theatre. But, I suppose they calculate that if it works you get to be president. ... It was pure Biden: scripted, saccharine, playing by the rules of a game that has long since ended. ...
And just so, Trump. He looked at his podium and quietly, respectfully, asked, which son Biden was talking about. Of course, he knew, but he played the game forcing Biden to respond, Beau. “Oh, I don’t know him. I know Hunter.”
And then listed the accusations against Hunter: ... It was as sweet a move as I’ve ever seen. The knockout punch was coming with all the force Joe Biden could muster and Trump simply sidestepped it and counterpunched.
It was an impressive display of natural animal cunning. And it could make the difference in the election. Trump was agile, aggressive, and vigorous, taking what he wanted when he wanted it. This offends some people’s sensibilities. He’s transgressive. He doesn’t play according to the rules. But for others, that’s part of the appeal.
It’s no secret that the ruling class in America despises the country class. If you’re one of those people who don’t live in coastal cities and subscribe to the same worldview as the elite aspirants hoping for a job at a billionaire-backed NGO or an internship that might lead to a job at McKinsey then you’re a deplorable, a CHUD, and definitely racist and whatever bad things are happening to you, your family, and your inland town are your just deserts.
One of Trump’s main functions and biggest appeals is that he exposes the occupational elites that are credentialed but not expert in much of anything. Everyone knows it. Imposter syndrome is rampant. And Trump preys on their insecurities which is what provokes such outrageous reactions from his enemies. But a lot of Americans who live in interior America and get unglamorous jobs at slowly declining wages, raise their families want nothing more than to be left alone by the credentialed but unaccomplished strivers who hate them. For those people, Trump is their champion.
They probably don’t aspire to be like Trump, but they like the fact that he exposes the bankruptcy of the undeserving ruling class. And for them, Trump’s debate tonight was a tour de force. It was aggressive, it was funny, he said the quiet part out loud, he broke the rules in public that are normally only broken in private. That won him the election in 2016. It won him the debate last night. And it might just get him re-elected in November.
The fact that so many pundits on the Left are calling for an end to the Trump - Biden debates is a pretty clear indication that they can see that it will only get worse.