Did they really expect him to play by Marquess of Queensberry rules?
Jake Tapper on CNN lamented that a friend’s sixth-grade daughter “burst into tears, had to run to bed” because she was “so appalled” by Trump’s behavior.
Debate reviews by media bien pensants were summarized in a Joe Biden campaign e-mail Wednesday morning, entitled, “Trump Blew it, Bigly.”
It quoted columnists at The Washington Post and The New York Times excoriating Trump’s “nihilism,” “norm-busting” and “nasty, unsettling meanness.”
Never Trumper Max Boot was typical: “Trump showed no respect for time limits, human decency or the truth.”
Frank Bruni’s take at the Times was: “After that fiasco, Biden should refuse to debate Trump again.”
Entertainer Bette Midler took to Twitter to call Trump “a pig” and demanding “a kill switch on the microphone or there’s no reason to do this again.”
Bob Woodward told MSNBC Trump “is assassinating the presidency.”
Mika Brzezinski was apoplectic: “Why in the hell should [Biden] get back on stage with that fool.”
Sure enough, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that future moderators will be given a kill switch to cut candidates’ microphones.
But if Democrats are so certain their man won, why are they so anxious for him not to participate in more debates, and why do they want a kill switch to control the debaters?
As for all the sad sacks in the media lamenting Trump’s trampling of “norms,” what have they been doing the past four years but trashing norms by promoting rancid lies about the president, lies pursued by the FBI and CIA to strangle his presidency at birth.
In any case, the Democratic candidate supposedly running a “decorum” ticket let loose a string of Tourette’s-style schoolyard insults, calling the president a “liar,” “fool,” “clown,” “racist” and “stupid.”
“Shut up, man,” said Biden.
Trump’s goading succeeded in ripping off Biden’s “nice guy” mask and forcing him to fight in the gutter.
Instinctively, or deliberately, the president engaged in a winning fighting strategy deployed by the best national rugby team in the world, New Zealand’s All Blacks. They come out hard in the first phase of the game, using sheer brute violence to probe their opponents’ weaknesses. It’s not pretty but it’s effective if your goal is to win.
So if Biden gives it his best effort in the next two debates rather than using Trump’s lack of decorum as an excuse not to engage, then you’ll see the president calibrating his attacks to zero in on Biden’s vulnerabilities.
Sure, the debate was a chaotic mess. But the emotional takeaway was this: In a turbulent world with circling predators like Chinese President Xi Jinping, who do you want defending America? An aggressive pit bull who will do anything to win, or a smirking milquetoast hurling schoolyard insults.
This view probably is behind the fact that 66 percent of Spanish-speaking viewers of Telemundo judged Trump the winner of the debate, the opposite result of similar insta-polls on CNN and CBS News.
After all, if you’ve lived through a socialist dictatorship or MS-13 tyranny, you appreciate a tough leader to protect you.
Americans voted for Trump in 2016 precisely because he is a pit bull, a barbarian, a gun-slinger they hired to fight the dirty left, drain the swamp, bring back their jobs from China and stand up for the flag, family and common sense.
They don’t care that he doesn’t act “presidential” as long as he fights for them.
Of course, it would have been better for the president to tone down the interruptions and give Biden enough slack to lose his train of thought and say something ridiculous, as he usually does when talking without a teleprompter.
But we should not be surprised by the rancor of the debate.
It reflects the rancor tearing apart this country, pitting neighbor against neighbor, children against parents, friend against friend.
You can see it in the street in Scranton, Pa., where Biden spent his first 10 years.
At first sight, tree-lined North Washington Avenue is an all-Democrat enclave, with a “Biden 2020” or “Scranton Loves Joe” yard sign in front of about every third house.
But that’s not because Trump supporters don’t live on the street. It’s because their signs get stolen.
“A lot of people here are under the radar,” says financial planner Tom Moran, 61, whose Dutch Tudor home down the road from Biden’s childhood home is adorned with a giant Trump flag.
“I know at least 25 people on the street who are Trump supporters, but they don’t have signs up.”
He has lost three signs and neighbors down the road have lost two. The only other Trump sign on the street is tucked safely behind a window.
“It’s been a constant battle and when you have the signs out there’s an intimidation factor.”
The animosity between Trump’s and Biden’s supporters is like nothing he’s seen before.
“My wife and my 3-year-old daughter have been outside, and guys have driven by and rolled their window down and yelled obscenities. It’s disgusting but it’s just the kind of crappy stuff that’s happening.
“My daughter’s been isolated from the neighbors’ kids. Last summer they were all playing together. This summer they won’t play with her.
“It is mean. I can’t explain it but this is the behavior we’re seeing.”
As we speak, a neighbor walks by with his dog, raises his fist and yells, “Trump all the way. Biden is a loser.”
It’s not the fault of the president or Biden or moderator Chris Wallace that Tuesday’s debate was an acrimonious shambles.
It’s the way the country is right now.
Columbus fan far more than just a vic
Readers have written in all month to sing the praises of John Cartafalsa, the 91-year-old veteran whose beloved Christopher Columbus statue was stolen from the lobby of his Upper West Side co-op.
His neighbor, Mount Sinai doctor Sean Morrison, has been charged with stealing the statue, apparently destroying it for ideological reasons.
Mount Sinai President David Reich has yet to respond to questions about Dr. Morrison’s conduct and his use of the hospital letterhead to write a quasi-apology to Cartafalsa, who, coincidentally, was hospitalized at Mount Sinai recently.
Friends and family, like Sandy Cohen, of Florida, who used to work with Cartafalsa, don’t want him remembered as just the elderly victim of a cruel theft.
“He is not the 90-year-old in a walker but a vibrant patriot,” Cohen wrote. “He was a bright, aggressive trial lawyer, well respected in the Queens courthouse . . . He was a retired service member” who went to NATO meetings in Europe. “He was well over six feet tall and an imposing man. Very sad at the end of his life to be treated this way.”
Cartafalsa’s son, John Jr., also an attorney, filled in the blanks: “He came from Sicily as an infant. He didn’t learn English until he went to school; grew up in Brooklyn, went to Grover Cleveland High School and the City College. He graduated in 1953 and got his commission through the ROTC. He married my mom and was heading to the War in Korea when the armistice was signed. He was sent instead to Hokkaido, Japan, with the 7th Cavalry. He came home and went to NYU Law School on the G.I. Bill. He stayed in the Army Reserve JAG Corps for 30 years and reached the rank of full Colonel. His entire career he was an insurance defense lawyer. He was the Village Justice for the Village of Roslyn Harbor.”
John Cartafalsa died at home over the weekend. He was well-loved and admired, and that’s what matters in the end.