Trump really doesn’t know how to debate. He doesn’t know the issues, doesn’t know how to build an evidence-based case for his actions, and is incapable of sustaining a coherent line of argument on any topic.

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Photo Creator: Reuters

by PPI President Will Marshall

Last night’s showdown in Nashville between President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden won’t go down in history as one of the great U.S. presidential debates. It was an anti-climactic affair that didn’t tell us anything new about the candidates or what’s at stake for our country in next month’s election.

I’ll leave it to the drama critics of the political media to figure out who “won” the debate. But if it didn’t do anything to change the trajectory of the race, Team Biden certainly will be happy with the outcome.

Trump showed a little self-discipline, especially compared to his feral performance in the first debate. But rather than use his time to tout his achievements and plans for a second term, Trump did what Trump always does — lied incessantly and hurled slurs and preposterous accusations at his opponent.

Trump really doesn’t know how to debate. He doesn’t know the issues, doesn’t know how to build an evidence-based case for his actions, and is incapable of sustaining a coherent line of argument on any topic. He thinks the way to win is by intimidation rather than persuasion. So he bluffs and blusters and makes up “facts” as he goes along.

Biden isn’t an especially agile debater, but he stood his ground and exhibited the traits of decency, empathy and honesty many voters find wholly lacking in Trump. Biden also did a good job of contrasting his “bring-us-together” approach to presidential leadership to Trump’s divide-and-conquer nihilism.

It was clear last night that Trump had no good answer as to why he’s bungled the COVID-19 crisis from the beginning, or separated more than 500 young immigrant children from their parents, or keeps trying to kill Obamacare and deprive Americans of health insurance in the midst of a public health emergency.

Trump’s campaign is sinking under the combined weight of this record of cruel and incompetent governance and mounting public revulsion toward his sociopathic character. The con is wearing thin, and voters Trump won in 2016 are abandoning him. It’s hard to see that changing after last night.

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