Photo Credit: NY Public Library

{Reposted from the Emes Ve-Emunah blog}

I don’t know what all the shouting is about. The media is all over this. They are decrying what happened in last night’s presidential debate. I don’t know why. There were no surprises. Unless you are blind, deaf, and dumb, the President of the United States was himself and acted pretty much the same way he has acted ever since he took office.


He does not have the capability to act with civility. Probably doesn’t even know the meaning of the word. He does not know how to restrain himself from reacting to criticism from an opponent (or anybody for that matter). Even when he promises to do so as he did before the debate last night. He doesn’t respond. He reacts. Last night was just more of the same old… same old. I don’t know what anybody was expecting.

It doesn’t matter who won the debate. I say ‘debate’. But that was no more a debate than was the Ali/Frasier ‘Thrilla in Manila’ back in 1975. Which was probably more civil than the shouting match we all witnessed last night.  Insults were flying from both sides.

A poll taken immediately after the debate reported that about 44% of the people watching it thought Biden won and 41% thought Trump won. That kind of surprised me since I thought Biden would get much higher numbers. 69% of the people watching thought it was depressing and uninformative. That didn’t surprise me.

To say that last night was an embarrassment is the understatement of the century. There is also not a doubt in my mind whose fault that was. The President is ‘the gift that keeps on giving’. The only question is who is getting that gift. It is not the American people.

But as I said, It doesn’t matter who won the debate because just about everybody has made up their minds who they are going to vote for. And in this election both sides are energized like at no other time in election history (at least in my lifetime).

So the question is not who won. This debate and any others (should they take place) are irrelevant. Just like they were in 2016.

Winning the next election will not depend on debates. It will not depend on what the media reports about each candidate. Or how they report it. It will not be predicted by the polls. How do I know? Because all of this is one big rerun. We have seen this show before.

Let us look back at 2016. I don’t think  there is a doubt in anyone’s mind that Hillary Clinton won every debate she had with then candidate Trump. He came off as an ignorant boor and a bully. She came of as  knowledgeable, experienced, and prepared to lead. Nor is there any doubt about the media spin back then. It was therefore not surprising that just about every respected poll said she would win the election.

We all know what happened.

Will history repeat itself now that we know so much more about the President than we did in 2016?  I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised if either candidate won.

The question is who will make a better president? Who will restore civility to the office? Who will restore the respect and dignity the Oval Office once had (not all that long ago under former President Obama). This is not rocket science. The answer is as obvious and plain as the nose on my face or any face.

But that still does not really answer the question. From my political perspective which is mostly conservative I choke at the prospect of a Biden presidency. For me both choices are bad.

Is Biden the lesser of two evils? Probably. But the lesser of two evils is still evil. I am probably one of the very few voters that has not made up their minds yet. I know that partisans on either side cannot understand this. They might even be shocked by my indecision. For them the the choice is beyond obvious.  How can I not choose (pick one) knowing what I know about each candidate?

But for me choosing one candidate over the other is like going from the frying pan into the fire. Making this election year one of the most depressing election years in my lifetime – even if COVID wasn’t a factor.


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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at