Fan Service Is Not Serving Trump Well

There’s not much left to say about Tuesday night’s presidential debate, so I’ll dispense with my verdict quickly. 

Donald Trump fared poorly because he behaved poorly. Trump went in with the goal of forcing Joe Biden into a viral, game-changing meltdown. If Trump had succeeded, his bluster and interruptions—which may have prevented precisely the Biden “senior moment” Trump sought— would have been worth it (politically speaking). 

Biden went in with a Hippocratic priority: First, do no harm to his lead in the polls. Score the performances however you like, but Trump failed to achieve his strategic objective, and Biden succeeded in securing his. Everything else is spin, distraction, blame-shifting or simply irrelevant.

If Trump were inclined to take advice from me (spoiler: he’s not), I would tell him: “You have to be willing to disappoint your biggest fans.”

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