Stephen Curry, one of the biggest stars in the NBA, noted Trump appearing to speak to the far-right Proud Boys. “Stand back and stand by??????????? No further questions your honor! #vote,” he wrote on Twitter.
NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry noted Trump refused to condemn white supremacy: “And he still didn’t say it,” wrote the Toronto Raptors guard on Twitter. NFL wide receiver Randall Cobb tweeted: “He was asked about racism and responded about law enforcement…”
Others highlighted the dismal tenor of a debate between two of the most powerful people on the planet. “This debate is the best sitcom of the year. This is pure comedy and the level of disrespect is off the charts. #Truth #LordHelpus,” wrote NFL hall of famer Deion Sanders.
For many athletes, the takeaway from the evening was that Americans need to ensure they vote in November’s election.
“After watching the adventurous #2020PresidentialDebate and not really being able to hear anything… if nothing else, make sure you’re heard,” wrote WNBA star Renee Montgomery.
LeBron James, perhaps the most famous athlete in America, kept his message brief. “PLEASE VOTE!!!!!,” he tweeted.
In a bar-room brawl, who wins the fight? The guy swinging his fists or the guy clutching his drink?
From the very first minute of the first presidential debate, the 45th president behaved as he has for the last four years: as unpresidential as possible.
He heckled. He bullied. He blustered and he lied. He came out swinging and didn’t mind where his fists landed: his opponent, the moderator, the Biden family, the microphones. It didn’t much matter.
“Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential,” gasped Joe Biden at the end of a chaotic discussion about the supreme court. “That was a really productive session. Keep yappin’, man.”
Biden sounded unsettled by the first round of the Trump onslaught. He lost his train of thought as Trump never ceased to talk over him.
If Democrats were hoping that Biden would box Trump in, they were surely disappointed. Biden’s most effective response was to laugh at the brawling around him.
But something funny happened on the way to Trump’s next swing of the fists: a pandemic. Covid-19 stopped the presidential yapping, briefly. Then Biden made a statement of the obvious, by questioning whether Trump was smart enough to handle the coronavirus.
“Did you use the word smart,” the un-president barked. “Don’t ever use the word smart with me.”
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The Fox News host Chris Wallace faced much criticism as he struggled to referee the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday night, writes senior political reporter Daniel Strauss:
For most of the event, Trump talked over Biden and Wallace failed to keep the president patient for his chance to talk. At a few other moments, the Democratic challenger’s scowls and snickering at the president interrupted Trump’s comments.
Many viewers blamed Wallace, though it was Trump who most often broke the agreed rules of the debate, refused to stick to his own speaking time, and steamrollered over both other men.
“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” said CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper. “That was the worst debate I have ever seen. In fact, it wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace, and it’s primarily because of President Trump.”
“That was the worst presidential debate I have ever seen in my life,” said ABC political anchor George Stephanopoulos.
The former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill tweeted: “Chris Wallace is embarrassing, and trying to pretend that the problem isn’t 100% Trump.”
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From Washington bureau chief David Smith’s analysis of last night’s spectacle: “If Trump is re-elected… this dark, horrifying, unwatchable fever dream will surely be the first line of America’s obituary.”
Cry, the beloved country. Donald Trump ensured Tuesday’s first US presidential debate was the worst in American history, a national humiliation. The rest of the world – and future historians – will presumably look at it and weep.
More likely than not, according to opinion polls, his opponent Joe Biden will win the November election and bring the republic back from the brink. If Trump is re-elected, however, this dark, horrifying, unwatchable fever dream will surely be the first line of America’s obituary.
Only one man looked remotely presidential on the debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio, and it was not the incumbent. He interrupted, ranted, raged, spewed lies and interrupted some more. Oh, and he passed on an opportunity to condemn white supremacists, instead telling them to “stand back and stand by”.
The debate moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, did not cover himself in glory either. He was a like a school supply teacher, hopelessly out of his depth as unruly children run riot. He did not enforce the rules or cut the president’s mic.
Facing this asymmetric bullying, Biden showed self-control and stood his ground. He spoke for tens of millions of Americans when he demanded: “Will you shut up, man?” – the Biden campaign rushed out this slogan on a T-shirt before the debate was even over.
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