Against all odds, former vice president Joe Biden and President Donald Trump actually took the stage tonight for the (previously third, but actually) second, and definitely final debate of this interminable election cycle. The two candidates agreed to a final round of rhetorical sparring without a stitch of plexiglass between them, though the Commission on Presidential Debates did decide (by unanimous vote) to add a mute feature, one that was automatically in effect while each candidate delivered their two-minute answers to moderator questions at the beginning of each round. That’s right — President Trump had to reserve his interruptions for the “open discussion” rounds after each two-minute response.
This little change to the format was likely for the best, because without it we might never have heard the surprisingly dark quip delivered by Democratic nominee Biden in the first five minutes of the debate. Though most viewers are describing the opening volleys of the night as “civil,” and “almost like a real debate,” this one particular barb directed at President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic definitely hit home.
Now is the 'dark winter' of our discontent, according to Joe Biden
Early on during the COVID-19 discussion, Vice President Joe Biden warned that the country was likely entering a “dark winter.” Though this is certainly an accurate description of the medical consensus as temperatures drop and spread increases, some viewers took exception with the former vice president’s pessimism on Twitter.
“There is Biden again selling fear. ‘Dark Winter?’ Southwest Airlines announced they are opening the middle seats. We need a president that is optimistic,” tweeted Charles V. Pain. As we all know, the availability of middle seats on Southwest Airlines flights has historically been the most accurate barometer of winter darkness. Better than the Farmer’s Almanac.
Biden’s message on the virus clashed almost diametrically with the rosy picture that Trump has repeatedly tried to paint, practically since the outset of the pandemic. On this night, the former vice president clearly came armed with a number of jabs aimed directly at Trump’s handling of the public health crisis, and the country’s grim winter outlook as a result. In addition to the aforementioned warning, he also parried the president’s oft-uttered refrain that America is “learning to live with” COVID-19.
“We’re learning to die with it,” Biden countered.
Touché, Mr. Vice President.
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