4 minute read

President Donald Trump lied constantly during the second and final debate. It was a cavalcade of rhetorical sewage, and anyone who awards Trump points for not constantly interrupting former Vice President Joe Biden is being charitable in a way that Trump himself would never be.

For this debate, I did not run screaming from the room from the cacophony of Trump’s bellowing interruptions, but the torrent of prevarication was too much to take at times. 

Opinion

Opinion

by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press

Trump claimed that Biden used the term “super-predator” to describe young black men, insisted that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” when states like Oklahoma saw their highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and asserted that the children who were separated from their parents at the border are “so well taken care of.” 

Reliable reporters and first-person witnesses have described conditions in which children are kept like animals in facilities that are hosed down like zoo spaces. This is not being “well taken care of” — Trump knows nothing about taking care of people. Biden, in sharp contrast, continually asserted himself as a healer, a constitutional repair man, a nation whisperer. 

To improve his standing and move the needle in a race where he is continually behind in the polls, Trump needed to cogently and persuasively make a case for a second term. Instead, he told viewers flat-out lies about the coronavirus pandemic, like saying that there were 2.2 million deaths expected. This was a figure based on not doing any single thing about COVID-19, which is close to what Trump has done. 

Trump sounded utterly cavalier in his statements about the coronavirus. He seemed to desire a pass for the more than 223,000 Americans who died under his watch. 

He repeatedly insisted that China inflicted COVID-19 on us, but more specifically, he sounded like it was inflicted on him rather than the nation at large. The narcissism and solipsism required to believe that coronavirus is something that was done to him should be a disqualifier for the highest office in the land. 

Beyond the myriad lies about his own record and Biden’s policies, Trump just came across as an intemperate, incompetant mess, a man without principle or honor. 

He claimed to have done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln, but he has consistently stood against people of color during this entire year of reckoning on race. He reasserted his 2015 statements on the character of people seeking asylum in the U.S.. calling them rapists, murderers and “bad people.” 

Such aspersions on people seeking a life in our country when the other option is often death at the hands of the state is unforgivable. We, as Americans, do not assume guilt before adjudication. That is what other, less developed, authoritarian-prone countries do to their citizens. 

“Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, by cartels,” Trump said. 

In truth, children are not brought here independent of their parents, but they were taken away at the border at the insistence of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 

“We need to take away children,” Sessions said, according to the New York Times. This was at Trump’s insistence. 

All in all, Trump dodged responsibility for everything that happened to this country since January 20, 2017. 

He is the ultimate shirker, a homunculus unwilling to take responsibility for anything that happened under his watch. We cannot countenance or admire a leader who is unwilling to assume responsibility for their actions during the course of their presidency. 

At the end of Thursday’s debate, Trump looked furious at the outcome. He seemed as miserable as he did after walking out of his truncated interview with Leslie Stahl of CBS’ 60 Minutes. It did not matter how well NBC’s Kristen Welker moderated the proceedings. Trump came off like a regrettable relic, a sad reminder of American imperfection. 

As historian Jon Meacham said following the debate, “There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the … anguished white guy’s lizard brain.” If our nation is to survive and thrive again, we must tune out that lizard brain and regain our humanity. 


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