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Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s town halls: the two polarized political realities of the United States live in prime time

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If they had bothered to go back and forth, they would have flipped between two different worlds. At Trump, the president has shifted responsibility for everything, refused to condemn conspiracy theories falsely linking Democrats to pedophiles, massively undermined mask-wearing amid the pandemic, and stepped up questions on the question. ‘he knowingly continued in public when infected with Covid-19. He has launched relentless attacks and serial untruths and left no doubt that the man who swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution on January 20, 2017, threatens to tarnish it with his equivocal comments on whether he would cede power peacefully.

In Biden’s parallel world, viewers saw a candidate who, far from fighting, told Americans he wanted to avoid them, saying, “We have to change the nature of how we deal with each other. . ” The former vice president saved Trump for his handling of the pandemic and painted a vision of a White House where a president listens to scientists on simple issues like wearing masks. Freed from Trump’s constant interruptions during the presidential debate, Biden laid out his plans on everything from healthcare and foreign affairs to the crackdown on Covid-19 and climate change. He reluctantly and awkwardly promised a response to his closure on the Supreme Court wrapper ahead of the election. Compared to Trump’s spiky crimes, Biden’s relaxed, discursive style – and sometimes long, technical arguments – was a reminder that you can get the man out of the Senate, but you can’t take the Senate out of the man.

Trump thought everything was unfair

On NBC, it was immediately evident that the President would not give up his belligerent bulldozer, even with his opponent on a different network. This time it was NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie who was in Trump’s sights.

Outside of his comfort zone of worshiping crowds of rallies and friendly Fox News interviews, the president looked more like a candidate who appears to be losing the election, doesn’t quite understand why, and thinks it’s very unfair.

He was furious, argumentative and resentful right out of the traps, complaining that one of Guthrie’s questions was “cute”, that the network had previously questioned Biden as if he was “a child” and that he had been treated “very, very badly” by the IRS despite not paying federal income tax for years. He described the pandemic as solely China’s fault, and despite 217,000 American deaths to date, he congratulated himself on saving millions of lives. In another litany of complaints, the man posing as the great designer insisted there was no new stimulus package because “you know who I’m negotiating against? Nancy Pelosi.” And he lamented that his FBI director, Christopher Wray, “isn’t doing a very good job” because he doesn’t share the president’s false and exaggerated claims of massive voter fraud. See Trump and Biden’s face-to-face poll .

On Covid, faced with better performance from other nations, Trump declared a dull victory over the tone: “On excess mortality, we are a winner,” the president said. “It happened because of China. And you have to understand that and understand that,” the president said, characteristically trying to distract from his own mistakes that happened long after Beijing had not alerted the rest of the world to the pandemic with the appropriate urgency. .

Trump’s response, when asked by Guthrie about whether he repudiates QAnon’s conspiracy theorists – who believe Democrats are part of a satanic cult of child abuse – epitomizes how extraordinary moments that would be unthinkable in another presidency are now simply routine.

Trump has denied any knowledge of a group he previously noted as himself, and after retweeting QAnon material.

“But there is no such thing as a satanic pedophile cult -” Guthrie said, before being interrupted by the president.

“I have no idea. I don’t know anything about it,” Trump replied. “Don’t you know that?” Guthrie asked, before the president answered, “No, I don’t know that and you don’t know that either.”

The conversation ended with Guthrie reminding Trump that the president shouldn’t just tweet like someone’s ‘mad uncle’ after answering a question about another lopsided conspiratorial fantasy about the killing of Osama Bin Laden saying, “I’m going to put it there. People can decide for themselves. “

The exchange revealed a fundamental truth about Trump’s political career. His clash with a great mainstream news anchor will in itself delight the supporters who elected him to destroy Washington’s status quo. His refusal to embrace what his fans would consider a politically correct answer on white supremacy and QAnon is relevant to his appeal to millions of Americans. But to cement this bond, he adopts ever more extreme and false positions that are sure to alienate at least half of the country and seem incompatible with any traditional notion of presidential behavior and duty.

Biden seeks consensus in times of acrimony

Biden, who like Trump is 70, came across ABC like a different kind of uncle. He was sympathetic, courteous, and was returning to a less controversial time with his speech on activating democracy by seeking consensus with Republicans who set out to thwart the Obama administration from its early hours. Biden was essentially offering Americans something that no one – haters or Trump supporters – has experienced in three and a half years: a calm hand at the helm, peace and quiet, and a president who is out of the box. everyone’s head from dawn to dusk.

The cancellation of the second debate, after a series of twisted consequences following Trump’s diagnosis of Covid-19, was a big break for the former vice president. He deleted one of the last risky moments in a campaign in which national polls say he has a double-digit lead. Biden only has to navigate safely through the final face-to-face clash with Trump on October 22 before tens of millions of voters make their final decision.

For those who want to agree with Biden, his arguments that Trump is an insult to the American democratic soul, flies in the face of traditional national values ​​and took the country on a self-defeating race that is tearing it apart, seemed to be confirmed by the President’s Antics on the other network.

Biden accused Trump of being more concerned about the stock market than the pandemic and said if elected he would rely on governors, mayors and council chairmen to enforce mask wear. As Trump candidate Justice Amy Coney Barrett is on the way to a Supreme Court confirmation that would cement a 6-3 Tory majority, Biden again declined to give an unequivocal answer on the question of s ‘he would seek to straighten out what the Liberals see as two stolen seats on the bench by expanding the size of the court.

Biden said he was “not a fan” of the judicial package, but said his stance will depend on how Republicans – who are rushing to seat Barrett ahead of the election – “handled ” the question.

Asked by George Stephanopoulos of ABC on the rather fundamental question of whether voters have the right to know what they think, he replied: “They have the right to know where I stand.”

“So will you come out with a clear position before election day?” Asked Stephanopoulos.

“Yes. Depending on how they handle it,” Biden said, not really offering much more clarity than before in an apparent attempt to overlap between liberal voters who are furiously demanding action and more moderate voters. and even Republicans thinking of a lifetime vote for a Democrat.The exchange offered a glimpse of what could be a daily leitmotif if elected president, with Biden pulled between his own instincts for consensus, tradition and ideologically diverse coalition and aspirations of a progressive party that is hungry for a chance to wield era-defining power. The former vice president’s tendency to lengthy answers was underscored when he was questioned by a young black man, who recalled his “you are not black” comments on the radio host Charlamagne tha God, which he could offer to young black voters who might not participate in the election because i They see it as the strengthening of a system of government which has offered them little. Biden detailed how he helped African Americans over a political career that spanned nearly half a century, but deepened into a puzzling story that seemed to equate racial justice with how the class white average accumulates wealth.

When asked if he heard what he wanted to hear, the caller replied, “I think so,” encouraging Biden to step in: “Well, there’s a lot more if you like, if you’re going to hang out after, I’ll ‘I’ll tell you more. “

It’s all about the rules

Candidates’ responses to personal Covid-19 testing captured the essence of the evening. Trump declined to say whether he had honored a deal to release a negative test ahead of the first presidential debate in Cleveland, which took place days before he was airlifted to hospital.

“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t,” Trump said, strengthening the hand of critics who think he may have been contagious for several days before his test positive, but still continued his electoral activities, potentially exposing many people.

Biden, seeking a clear contrast to the president, said he was tested before mayor on Thursday.

“If I hadn’t passed this test, I didn’t want to come here and report someone. It’s just decency to be able to determine whether you’re clear or not,” he said, sympathetically. “guys with the cameras, guys from the secret service.”

Before the final debate next week, the former vice-president said: “I will respect what the committees (of the presidential debate) ask”.

At its most basic level, this is the purpose of election. It’s a contest between a contestant who plays by the rules and an incumbent president whose entire life shows he doesn’t think everyone’s rules apply to him.

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