It wasn't a mistake for ABC and NBC to hold town halls with Joe Biden and Donald Trump on the same night, at the same time.
I thought it would be, but thanks to my DVR, I was able to watch the hour with Trump, then the hour and a half with Biden. I appreciated the immediate stark contrast.
Once again, Biden was the clear winner of the debate that wasn't, yet in a a way, was. The most obvious way Biden won was that he made no glaring mistakes, whereas Trump did.
Supposedly Biden is the one who makes verbal gaffes, but tonight it was Trump who had many moments that were so atrocious, there's reason to wonder whether he even cares about winning the election -- just trying to steal it.
Savannah Guthrie, who moderated the NBC town hall, did a great job holding Trump's feet to the factual fire.
For the first twenty minutes or so she elicited responses from Trump that cast a lot of light on the B.S. that he gets away with when reporters aren't able to ask follow-up questions, which Guthrie was able to do.
Her most amazing feat was getting Trump to admit that maybe he had a negative test before the first debate, and maybe he didn't. Trump claimed that he couldn't remember whether he had a covid test on the day of the debate, as required by debate rules agreed to by both campaigns. So almost certainly Trump didn't have a test.
Over and over Trump exhibited his annoying inability to answer even the simplest question. Guthrie teed up what should have been a slam dunk response from Trump, to mix a couple of sporting metaphors.
Is QAnon a purveyor of baseless conspiracy theories? Obviously it is, since neither the deep state, nor leading Democrats, are operating a pedophile ring -- not out of the basement of a pizza parlor, not anywhere.
But Trump whiffed his answer, claiming that he didn't know anything about QAnon. Nor did Trump have an answer about how he would provide health care to Americans if the Affordable Care Act is overturned by the Supreme Court, as the Trump administration is hoping will happen.
Guthrie pointed out that Trump has had four years to come up with the great health care plan that is better than Obamacare and way cheaper, as Trump blathers on about at every opportunity. And once again Trump had nothing substantive to say.
His demeanor wasn't as nasty as at the first debate with Biden, but Trump didn't do himself any favors by being biting, insulting, and sarcastic in his interactions with Guthrie.
Sure seems like Trump has a big problem with assertive women. Since women favor Biden over Trump by more than thirty points, Trump blew another chance to look like a caring guy, rather than an arrogant asshole.
Biden, on the other hand, was appealingly boring.
Well, boring is a bit unfair, since Biden did have some crisp compelling answers to audience questions, notably what he said about the state of international relations after Trump has done his best to coddle dictators and offend our allies.
Much of the time, though, I was silently pleading inside my head, "Joe, make a simple point, then shut up. You're going into way too much detail." However, this did show Biden's impressive capacity to offer up a comprehensive answer to any question, something Trump is utterly incapable of.
When a woman with a transgender child asked about how Biden would restore the rights of transgender people that Trump has trashed, Biden looked down as the question was being asked with an impossible-to-fake expression of concern on his face. This also is something Trump is utterly incapable of -- being empathetic and caring to someone who is hurting.
Likely the headline of the Biden town hall will be his sort-of answer to a question from George Stephanopolous about Biden's stance on adding judges to the Supreme Court, a.k.a. court packing. After side-stepping the question, Biden finally promised to provide a clear answer before the election, after he sees how Republican's handle Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination hearing.
And, gosh, Biden is OK with fracking so long as it is safe and used as a bridge to renewable energy and a carbon neutral United States. Biden acted like the moderate that he is, which is why he won the Democratic presidential nomination and is doing so well in the polls against Trump.
All in all, my progressive self felt really good about the dueling town halls.
Trump is the one who has to make up electoral ground, yet tonight he acted like the same old Trump. Uninformed, irritating, lying. So boring Biden won by being himself, a normal human being who wants to be president.