Well, there was no cacophony or a barrage of insults.
The second and final presidential debate was civilized and it felt good.
But, and there is a but: The viewers were buried under an avalanche of alternative facts.
Courtesy of the U.S. president.
The president had clearly listened to his advisers. He decided not to behave like an insubordinate teenager − which he did in the first debate.
He showed discipline this time. And he definitely scored points instead of burning his last bridges.
But his way of convincing Americans that he is still the right man for the job was painful.
From beginning to end, he sought to fool the millions of viewers who wanted to know what to expect from the two candidates.
Some of his deceptions were familiar.
• Insisting that, since Abraham Lincoln, he is the president that has done the most for the black community. Then – you can’t make this up – claiming that he was “the least racist person in the room.”
• Saying that everything is going just fine with North Korea, since he has a good relationship with Kim Jong Un. When in fact, the latter developed his military arsenal while being courted by Donald Trump. He has just unveiled a gigantic new intercontinental ballistic missile.
• Daring to claim that he has done “an incredible job environmentally.” We could laugh about it if it weren’t so sad. His record is atrocious.
Other deceptions were brand new.
He explained that the 545 children arrested at the Mexican border, whose parents have not been located yet, entered the United States with the help of people smugglers. They were in fact separated from their parents under a policy of the Trump administration.
The president has also tried to make political hay out of the fanciful idea that Joe Biden is the head of a “crime family.”
The story, as complex as it is dubious, stems from the recent appearance of the hard drive of a computer believed to have belonged to the candidate’s son, Hunter Biden. It had been sent − and this too cannot be made up − to the New York Post by Rudy Giuliani, lawyer and friend of the president.
In response to the president’s numerous allegations on the subject, Biden offered one of his best lines of the evening, his eyes riveted on the camera. “It’s not about his family and my family, it’s about your family.”
To these families, Biden was able to present the details of his agenda, which is the polar opposite of what Trump did in the White House.
Particularly about the fight against the coronavirus, for which the Democratic candidate promises a more aggressive federal response.
He also provided support for his positions on certain major issues such as health (expanding Barack Obama’s reform), the environment (his ambitious green plan) and the economy (raising the minimum wage, in particular). Above all, his interest in public policy and its impact on the common good was a stark contrast to the president’s indifference to it.
However, it should be noted that his performance was respectable, but not brilliant. This was all the more apparent since we had been treated to an electrifying speech by Obama the day before the debate.
Biden particularly struggled to respond convincingly to Trump’s most effective attacks, in which Trump criticized him for having too modest a record after spending 47 years in Washington, eight of them in the White House.
It’s not easy to determine the impact that this latest debate will have on the race. For example, what will undecided voters in Cincinnati, Ohio, or Jacksonville, Fla. think? Let’s hope they won’t be fooled once again (and too much) by Trump.