By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
First-debate performances have been a curse occasionally for presidents seeking re-election.
Donald Trump’s astonishing display of boorishness Tuesday night, though, might produce an insurmountable obstacle for this president. I want to revisit two recent examples of first-debate stumbles.
- In 1984, President Reagan stumbled, bumbled and mumbled his way through a joint appearance with Democratic challenger Walter Mondale; many observers wondered whether Reagan had “lost it.” The two men came back at the next debate and the president was asked whether he was up to the job of president. He responded that “I will not exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” He brought the house down … and then won re-election in a 49-state landslide.
- In 2012, President Obama was facing a tough fight against Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The candidates faced off in a debate. Obama was clumsy, off his game, offering muted responses to questions. Romney essentially wiped the floor with Obama. They returned a few days later and Obama recovered his voice and thumped Romney. Obama then was re-elected with a handsome majority.
So now I ask: Is there any way that Donald Trump can recover from what’s been called a “sh** show” this week? I do not know how he does.
Trump won’t listen to advice. He doesn’t accept the wisdom of others with actual knowledge of pertinent matters.
Indeed, given the astonishingly graphic nature of his behavior Tuesday night, it boggles my mind to understand how he steps across that behavior to make Americans forget about what they witnessed in real time.
We all saw what I consider to be the most shameful incident ever put on by a president of the United States. He has demonstrated once and for all that he is an embarrassment to the country he was elected to govern.
He told white supremacists to “stand by” while we count the ballots; he mocked his opponent for wearing a mask in the middle of a killer pandemic; Trump told lie after freaking lie on live TV.
How does he recover from that? In my humble view, he doesn’t … and that’s a good thing for the United States of America.