Last night was the first presidential debate and it was … not a great moment for the country, to say the least. As Sarah reminds us, presidential candidates go into debates with a strategy, basing their metric of success on their ability to boost turnout among an already existing base. Did either candidate achieve what they wanted to achieve? Are undecided voters who watched the debate now more or less likely to show up to the polls? If you haven’t been following every twist and turn of the race, Trump appeared strong and forceful during the debate, interrupting the moderator and his doddering opponent in perpetuity. But were Trump’s interruptions strategic? As Jonah argues, “He didn’t let Biden talk when Biden was talking badly.” Rather than give Biden the opportunity to fumble, the president was just a “blunderbuss of interruptions,” a problem that was compounded by his refusal to condemn white supremacy.
Biden, on the other hand, somewhat succeeded in his do no harm, let Trump be Trump strategy, minor gaffes aside. But it was by no means a show-stopping performance from the Democratic nominee. All things considered, it mostly served as a reminder that maybe mute buttons would be a good idea next time around. After a debate recap, Sarah and the guys discuss the electoral and national security implications of the New York Times’ report on Trump’s tax returns, as well as the DNI Director John Ratcliffe’s letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham regarding the FBI’s handling of Crossfire Hurricane. Stick around for a fun conversation about our podcast hosts’ favorite cult classic films.