American politics nose-dived, spiraled, crashed and burned Tuesday night during what masqueraded as the first 2020 presidential debate.
“You’re a clown!” “Would you shut up, man!” “Everything you say is a lie.”
Those were just some of the barbs from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who grew irritated by repeated interruptions by President Donald Trump at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Trump, who received a regular rebuke from moderator Chris Wallace, claimed Biden was weak and unintelligent.
“Don’t ever use the word smart with me,” Trump railed at Biden. “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”
The president sunk even lower, making accusations that Biden’s son Hunter was “kicked out of the military — dishonorably discharged — because of drugs.”
Biden reminded the audience of a little more than 100 people — down from an anticipated 900 because of the coronavirus pandemic — that Trump called fallen military members “losers and suckers.”
While Trump dared Biden to say the words “law and order,” Wallace opened discussions on race.
“Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?” the moderator asked Trump.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump reluctantly said in reference to a far-right, neo-fascist organization, a declaration that fell well short of condemnation.
“But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left,” he said.
Biden also blasted Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
The former vice president said more than 200,000 people in the U.S. have died, and some 40,000 people are still contracting the coronavirus each day.
“The president has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything,” Biden charged.
Trump responded that a vaccine and life-saving treatments might come before the election.
The president again hit out at China, blaming the Far East nation for the virus.
“It’s China’s fault. It never should have happened,” Trump contended.
“We’ve done a great job,” Trump added, accusing the “fake news” of distorting his record on the virus. Trump claimed a Biden administration would have “lost far more people.”
Biden responded: “Get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap and your golf course.”
Later, Trump again refused to say whether he’d leave office peacefully if Biden wins the election.
The ugly match denigrated more when the topic turned to Trump’s income tax returns, which he has refused to release publicly.
A New York Times investigation found that Trump had gone 10 of the past 15 years without paying any income taxes, and in 2017 and 2018, he paid just $750.
The president disputed the report but evaded Wallace’s questions about specifics.
As a successful businessman, Trump offered that he understands the tax code and that others who don’t take advantage of it are inept.
Biden’s campaign released the former vice president’s 2019 tax returns before the debate, which showed he paid nearly $300,000 in federal income tax last year.
“You are the worse president America has ever had,” Biden told Trump.