National Commentary

Tuesday’s ‘Debate,’ Good Vs. Evil?

“I no longer see Election Day in November as a race between Democrats and Republicans. It’s a battle between good and evil.”

This comment posted on social media following Tuesday’s clash between Trump and Biden came the closest, in my view, to an apropos reaction to what happened during that hell-house hour and half of live TV called a presidential debate Tuesday night. It was an honest emotional reaction to what we all witnessed.

It points to the abiding point of this spectacle which was that there was no moral equivalence between what the bully-gone-wild Trump exhibited and the decorum Democratic nominee Joe Biden represented in that event.

Trump exhibited the behavior that can be seen in a Bosch painting, a wild-eyed, crazed, demon-possessed madman refusing to shut up, spewing a mix of venom and bile in the form of words all over a debate stage.

Former Vice President Biden, exhibiting the same quality behavior that served him for eight years as Vice President and many years in Congress before that, had to have been taken aback by the ferocity of a bulging eye-balled Trump’s uncontrollable, flailing verbal vomit spectacle.

It was like scenes from “The Exorcist.”

Clearly, this was the consequence of a man terrified to be called out by a competent leader, his worst fears that animated his compulsion to pin a fake conspiracy on Biden through an investigation of his son, Hunter, in the Ukraine, a failed attempt to discredit Biden when it was clear that Biden would be forthcoming with the most serious challenge to his presidency.

Trump was terrified going into this debate, feeling compelled to act to obfuscate all the main points of Biden’s alternative to Trump’s incredibly failed three years in office with dissembling blather, acting like a tasteless scene from a Saturday Night Live skit when a character with a tube run up through her shirt is being activated to splatter fake vomit all over the stage.

Committed to this disgusting posture, Trump called into question the validity of this November’s presidential election, and while refusing to condemn white supremacy, signalled to one arch rightwing proto-terrorist group, the Proud Boys, a not-so-subtle call to mobilization.

It was pointed out in the numerous, lengthy analyses by talking heads following the event that Trump’s performance would have won favor with no single demographic group, regardless of party, gender or age, in America with the exception of the Proud Boys, who were gleefully texting high fives after the event because Trump had hailed them.

It is sad to hear those talking heads so readily diverted from the real substance by Trump’s antics to a discussion of the logistics of the debate, rather than the substantive policy issues that Biden sought to raise about how the country needs to be run going forward, especially given all the ominous problems we face.

The pandemic, the economy, climate change and the protection of the 2020 election are the four horsemen of our apocalypse that got woefully little attention at this debate.

In particular, it was the over 200,000 lives lost in recent months to due Covid-19 pandemic and Trump’s incompetent response, as well as Trump’s ongoing effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which should have been the centerpiece of a poignant national reckoning.

But this was swept under the rug by Trump’s effective tactic of dissembling, something which the moderator, Chris Wallace, sadly allowed to happen.

Nor did anything that has triggered this year’s Black Lives Matter mass movement get any attention during the event. On the contrary, Trump’s evil dissembling kept that in the shadows, as well.

Did I say “evil?” Yes, like the person who statement I quoted at the top of this column, I believe evil exists, just as good exists. Sorry for the payoff you’ve undoubtedly pocketed from the Trump machine, Mr. Franklin Graham and your so-called evangelical organization, but you’ve cast your lot with evil.

The memorable final scene of Gounod’s opera, “Faust,” performed at D.C.’s Kennedy Center last year, showed a repentant sinner lifted by angels to heaven while the unrepentant Faust is dragged to hell by Mephistopheles. It was beautiful and rang true.

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at