The first presidential debate probably didn't win many votes for former Vice President Joe Biden, who was vague and unconvincing. I do think, however, the debate may lose President Donald Trump some votes. I may be one of them.
In 2016, I voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson because I saw Democratic Hillary Clinton and Trump as self-destructive chaos agents.
Trump turned out much better than I expected. He is about to put a third highly qualified conservative jurist, Amy Coney Barrett, on the Supreme Court, and he has filled federal courtrooms with qualified judges who won't legislate from the bench.
His decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was followed by the Abraham Accords that aligned the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with Israel.
Trump signed the First Step Act, which brought needed reform to the draconian federal criminal sentencing system, yet supports local law enforcement at a time when beat cops are under siege. Biden wrongly referred to antifa as just an "idea."
Trump's handling of the coronavirus started strong. Rather than try to shut down the country completely early on, Trump tapped key agencies and health officials to craft a plan to slow the spread of the pandemic while bringing the American public on board. His gift for logistics should help produce and distribute a vaccine in record time.
Given a choice between a president who wants the country to remain open for business and a candidate who virtue signals in a mask, I'll take the leader who doesn't want the cure to be worse than disease and trusts Americans to choose their level of risk.
Lately Trump hasn't done so well on COVID. He stopped reminding the public about risks to be avoided. He has said he is willing to override federal regulators if they won't approve a vaccine when he thinks they should. Such rhetoric gives skeptical Americans reason not to trust a vaccine that only works if enough people take it.
Perhaps now that he has contracted the virus, Trump will take it more seriously. While his use of masks and social distancing has improved somewhat over time, and the president was tested daily, his example could serve as a cautionary tale.
I think the Russian probe was an attempt to undermine a duly elected president. I still don't understand why the White House hasn't held an on-camera briefing to expose the outrages associated with the investigation. But I do know why. Trump can't or won't lay out the case systematically and, he won't share the spotlight.
We saw that during the first debate Tuesday night. Trump won't prepare a careful case, as he prefers to bluff his way through an argument.
I know that with his elbows-out posture, Trump has achieved things I never could do. But I don't know that he can continue to deliver. As with every tactic, it works until it doesn't.
I don't understand how a man who has achieved so much seems to never learn from his mistakes.
When moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists, all Trump had to do was say yes — but he could not bring himself to deliver the necessary line convincingly.
If Trump wins a second term, fewer people of quality will want to work for him, which leaves too many vacancies for grifters. Remember Trump's Bible-toting walk to St. John's Church on June 1? Authorities used pepper spray and force to clear Lafayette Park — which they probably would have had to do eventually to enforce a curfew. By inserting himself into the drama, unfortunately, Trump made law enforcement and national security personnel look like towel boys there to serve him, not protect the public.
I've never seen a president less willing to do things he doesn't like, such as listening to an opponent and moderator during a debate. If Trump can't do something that simple, what else won't he do?
So I've decided if Trump's feelings are so important, what about my feelings? Why should I support someone who has nothing but contempt for my belief in civility and behavioral norms? Maybe I could just stay home and pout.
Contact Debra J. Saunders at [email protected] or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.
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