July 13, 2024

In First Debate, Trump Overwhelms Biden With Bluster and Lies

3 min read

by Keith Boykin, Word In Black

“Black Vote, Black Power” a collaboration between Keith Boykin and Word In Black, 
examines the issues, the candidates, and what’s at stake for Black America in the 2024 presidential election.

Well, that was awkward.

The first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign has just ended in Atlanta, and it felt like a disservice to the public. Donald Trump lied and rambled nonstop without correction. And President Joe Biden was simply not able to keep up with Trump’s torrent of falsehoods. 

It was the first time in history a convicted criminal took part in a presidential debate, but it was 40 minutes into the discussion before the subject came up. It was as if it were completely normal for a twice-impeached, quadruple-indicted, convicted felon awaiting sentencing, who also incited a deadly insurrection, to be considered a serious candidate for the most powerful job in the world. 

But the spectacle likely did nothing to move the needle: Biden’s shaky performance did not allay concerns about his age, and Trump’s nonsensical tirades did not allay concerns about his mental or moral fitness to hold office.

After the first half hour, Biden finally had a few good moments, attacking Trump as a criminal, condemning him for “having sex with a porn star while your wife was pregnant,” and accusing him of having “the morals of an alley cat.”

But Trump is a master at denying the truth, dodging questions, inflating his own record, and lying about other people as he pivoted to his favorite talking points. 

Asked about Black voters, Trump blamed immigrants for taking what he called “Black jobs.” First of all, that’s not true, but second: what, exactly, are Black jobs?

In the same round, Biden missed a golden opportunity to sell his own record on Black issues: lower Black unemployment, lower Black poverty, more Black businesses, more HBCU funding, more Black judges, less student loan debt, and historic appointments to his cabinet.

Trump blithely walked past his own history of housing discrimination in the 1970s, the lynch mob he led against the now-exonerated “Central Park Five” in the 1980s, and the birtherism lie he peddled about President Barack Obama for nearly six years. Biden did cite a few examples of what he’s done for Black voters, but he let Trump put him on the defensive on an issue where Trump’s own record is abysmal. 

This is especially true in Atlanta, the predominantly-Black city that Donald Trump `attacked before and after he lost the 2020 election, and tried to invalidate the votes of Black residents. Trump even targeted Fulton County election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, both Black women.

But there was no mention of that in the debate in Atlanta. Trump was not forced to answer for his bigoted attacks on the late Rep. John Lewis a civil rights icon and current Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

It didn’t stop there. 

Asked about childcare, Trump avoided the question, rambled off into immigration lies, and spoke about how he fires people. Not one word about child care. And no one held him accountable.

Asked about the opioid crisis, Trump went on and on about irrelevant issues and again failed to provide a single substantive idea, much less give a coherent answer. Asked a second time about the opioid crisis, Trump brought up Vladimir Putin releasing hostages. 

Asked about a Palestinian state, Trump did not even pretend to answer the question. He just launched into a rant about NATO.  

And after all that, Trump still refused to say he would accept the election results this November. 

President Biden should have mopped the floor with Trump tonight, but he did not. Then, after the debate, Biden showed up at a rally and looked like a different person refreshed and energized in a way that he was not during the debate. 

I don’t know what just happened, but it’s going to be a long four months, and an even longer four years if things keep going in this direction.

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