About six minutes into the debate, I started keeping track of how many times each guy interrupted the other guy. I didn’t count it as an interruption when Joe said something and Trump made a face or a wisecrack, or vice-versa. I only counted when one of the two said something which forced the other guy to stop talking until the interruption came to an end.
I started keeping this count when at roughly six minutes into the program, Trump interrupted Biden for the third or fourth time and Biden turned towards Trump and said, “Why don’t you shut up?”
I have been sitting in front of my TV for the last four years and I think that just about every evening during the news I have found myself saying the same thing to Donald Trump. But obviously, he couldn’t hear me telling him to shut up; he certainly heard it when it was said by Joe.
Trump behaved exactly the way he always behaves in any situation where he is talking to an audience, whether the audience is a rally crowd or whether it’s a one-on-one exchange. He talks endlessly, he wanders from subject to subject, and he almost always has an angry belligerent tone, particularly when he thinks he’s being criticized or otherwise verbally attacked.
By my count, and this is of course unofficial, at the end, Trump interrupted Biden at least 30 times. Not that Joe didn’t give as good as he got, until about the last ten minutes of the program he often replied in kind and I counted him interrupting Trump 13 or 14 times.
But you know what? I watched the debates between Hillary and Trump in 2016, and Trump behaved the same way during those debates as he behaved last night. He was verbally hostile and abusive, he made obviously untrue statements again and again, and he interrupted Hillary almost as frequently as he interrupted Joe.
So I sat there during the 2016 debates waiting and hoping that Hillary would at some point stop being so polite and tell Trump to shut it down. She never did. When I turned on the TV last night I knew that Trump would go on the attack again, but I never thought I would hear Biden tell him that enough was enough.
And yet he did. He told Trump to shut up again and again. He called him a ‘clown,’ he called him a ‘liar,’ he called him a ‘racist,’ and best of all, he frequently stated that Trump had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
After it ended, the pundits on both sides, because I caught commentary both on NBC and Fox, seemed almost apologetic about how the debate was more name-calling than substance, indeed Karl Rove ended up saying that what he had witnessed was not a debate but a World Wide Wrestling match. Which I thought was a funny comment because Trump used to promote World Wide Wrestling programs at his Atlantic City casino before it went bust.
I thought it was a great debate. Why? Because it’s about time that someone has gotten up in public and told Trump to shut up. After all, this is a guy who even tonight didn’t disagree when Chris Wallace, the moderator, reminded him that he claimed to have done more for African-Americans than any President with the ‘possible’ exception of Lincoln.
Know what the word ‘possible’ means? It means that maybe Trump did even more for Black folks than what Abraham Lincoln did for them. And when I first read that statement, I said to myself that this guy has no earthly excuse to be heard from ever again.
So I’m really glad that Joe told Trump to shut up. I suspect that what Joe really wanted to say was that Trump should shut the f*ck up. Maybe he’ll say it like that in the next debate.