Politipress: Presidential debate #3 was coherent lunacy

In the latest installment of Politipress, WSPNs Atharva Weling analyzes the highlights and pitfalls of the third and final presidential debate of 2020.

Credit: WSPN Staff

In the latest installment of Politipress, WSPN’s Atharva Weling analyzes the highlights and pitfalls of the third and final presidential debate of 2020.

I watched thirty minutes of the first presidential debate before I turned it off, walked away from my TV, and gave up on the idea of decency in American politics. You know you have a problem when the most memorable part of your debate is one of the participants asking the other to shut up. Nevertheless, I was cautiously optimistic about the candidates’ second head-to-head contest since the moderators announced that the microphone of whoever wasn’t speaking would be muted during their opponent’s statements.

But while the third overall presidential debate was certainly much more intelligible, with one candidate speaking at a time for almost the entire night, it really just felt like more of the same. Former Vice President Joe Biden tried to lay out concrete plans for combating climate change, expanding healthcare access, and most importantly, ending the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing recession. However, he had to spend much more time than either he or the people watching from home would have liked debunking President Trump’s countless lies.

The President, for his part, was much clearer tonight than during September’s debate. He made some solid attacks on Biden’s record, especially his support of the 1994 Crime Bill that was a massive part of why race-based police violence is a big problem in America today. However, the vast majority of what he said was undeniably false. Here are some of the biggest fibs that the sitting U.S. president spewed as he attempted to make up for all the ground he has lost to Biden so far in this election.

1. Coronavirus

The President repeated the message he’s been telling his supporters for the last couple of days: the coronavirus pandemic is “rounding the corner” and will soon end. Of course, this has been proved as blatantly untrue. Just the day after the debate, the U.S. recorded nearly 83,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily total since the pandemic began.

2. Tax Returns

President Trump labeled the $750 number that critics have been waving in his face as the amount he paid in taxes as a “filing fee,” and that he “prepaid” millions of dollars in taxes. First of all, there is no such thing as an IRS filing fee. Secondly, although it’s not sure what Trump meant by saying he “prepaid,” the problem lies with the fact that he owed $750 in income taxes, a claim he never denied. He continues to avoid releasing his tax returns.

3. Immigration

A couple big gaffs here from the president. First, he continually asked Biden “who built the cages,” in an effort to shift blame for family separation to him. This is somewhat true, Obama’s administration did build temporary Border Patrol stations to house immigrant children. What they never did, was implement a “zero-tolerance policy” that made family separation permanent and widespread in an effort to deter immigration; that was a Trump-era policy.

Second, he accused the Obama administration of implementing a “catch and release” policy that let murderers and rapists into the country. Not only are the vast majority of immigrants at the border asylum seekers rather than murderers or rapists, but the Department of Justice has come out to say that most of them do show up to their court dates if released from ICE custody due to overcrowding.

4. Climate Change

The president accused Biden of wanting to make windows tiny as part of his climate change policy. I’m not even going to bother going through this.

But a less absolutely crazy claim the president made was that the United States had the “cleanest air” and “cleanest water” under his administration. In fact, the Rhodium Group finds that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the United States actually saw higher carbon emissions at the end of 2019 than at the end of 2016. This is due largely in part to the administration’s efforts to deregulate a host of industries as well as its decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords.

5. Racial Justice

The president boldly stated that “with the exception of Abraham Lincoln,” no president has done more for Black Americans than he has. This is, of course, completely false. Lyndon B. Johnson, who passed the Voting Rights Act among other civil rights legislation as part of the “Great Society” reforms, is generally agreed to have done the most for Black Americans. On the other hand, Trump retweeted a video earlier this year of one of his supporters shouting “white power” at a group of protesters.

As far as I could tell, the debate didn’t really do much. Both candidates rehashed positions that they had expressed multiple times, and President Trump continued his steady streak of lying to the American people. At this point, many Americans have already made up their minds about the election anyway. But one thing was made absolutely clear, there is a lot at stake in the 2020 election. Whoever America decides on, that person will have a rough four years ahead of them.