Watching the debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, I found the outcome predictable and in alignment with expectations. Joe Biden's performance didn't raise significant concerns regarding his competency. While Biden has never been renowned for his impromptu speaking abilities, a trait stemming from his extensive tenure in the Senate, he speaks more like a senator than a president. This habit, combined with his lifelong struggle with stuttering, often makes his delivery appear stiff. It's also worth noting that his physical demeanor, particularly his walking style, could improve. As one ages, it's common to drag one's feet and stumble; however, Biden's cautious gait could benefit from practicing a more natural stride to avoid appearing precarious.

A notable aspect of Biden's speaking style during the debate was his tendency to talk rapidly. This approach, while reminiscent of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh's talk show styles, has unfortunately become mainstream. Such a method, often a Gish Gallop tactic, aims to overwhelm the opponent rather than engage in meaningful communication with the audience. The Gish Gallop is a debate tactic that involves overwhelming the opponent with a rapid series of half-truths and lies, leaving them unable to respond to each one effectively. In this case, most of Biden's responses were truths or partial-truths at worst. This rapid delivery worked against him, detracting from the clarity and impact of his messages.

The Debate Decision: A Questionable Choice

Looking back, it's clear that Biden faced an uphill battle in this debate. Debating someone who frequently resorts to lies, exaggerations, and projection is inherently challenging. Trump's disregard for conventional debate rules meant that any attempt to engage him in a structured argument was an uphill battle, to say the least.

Liberals, including Biden, typically adhere to established norms and expect their leaders to do the same. This adherence can be a disadvantage when facing an opponent with no qualms about breaking the rules. In essence, debating a rule-breaker requires a willingness to counter with equally unconventional strategies, which Biden seemed reluctant to employ.

CNN's Role and the Nature of the Questions

CNN's approach during the debate was also a point of contention. The moderators asked leading questions laced with personal bias and, at times, ignorance. For instance, the question about Biden's son's business dealings was seen as a biased attempt to discredit Biden. This format put Biden in a difficult position, as he felt compelled to respond substantively. At the same time, Trump often ignored the questions altogether. Trump's responses were primarily filled with hyperbole, exaggerations, and untruths, contrasting sharply with Biden's attempts to provide detailed answers.

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Historically, debates like this one rarely produce positive outcomes. While they might occasionally yield memorable quips that temporarily favor one candidate, they are unreliable indicators of leadership competency. For example, Ronald Reagan's famous quip in the 1984 debate, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience," effectively diffused concerns about his age with humor and wit. However, such moments are rare and often superficial when determining a candidate's leadership ability.

The moderators' role in this debate was also significant. Their questions, often perceived as biased, shaped the flow of the discussion. Leading questions can corner candidates into defensive postures, which was evident in Biden's responses. Trump's tactic of ignoring inconvenient questions further skewed the debate dynamics, making it challenging for viewers to glean substantive insights from the exchange.

Biden's Communication Style

During the debate, Biden's communication style highlighted his struggle to balance rapid responses and substantive content. His inclination to talk rapidly seemed more an attempt to counter Trump's barrage of statements rather than a strategy to convey his points effectively. This approach may have worked against him, as it can overwhelm listeners and obscure the clarity of his arguments.

Moreover, while not reflecting his intellectual capacity, Biden's stutter added an element of distraction. His efforts to overcome this challenge, commendable as they are, sometimes resulted in stiffness that hindered his overall presentation. It's a reminder that effective communication in a debate setting requires clear articulation and a confident and composed demeanor.

Trump's debate tactics were predictably unconventional. His strategy centered on dominating the conversation through sheer volume and repetition, a classic Gish Gallop technique. By overwhelming Biden with a rapid-fire series of accusations and statements, Trump aimed to disrupt Biden's focus and coherence. In response, Biden attempted to address each point, often resulting in fragmented and hurried replies that needed more depth.

Trump's disregard for factual accuracy further compounded Biden's challenge. Engaging with a candidate who frequently distorts facts requires a different approach; a more strategic focus on key messages might have served him better. Biden struggled to implement this complexity of the situation effectively.

The Broader Implications

The broader implications of this debate are significant. Debates should serve as platforms for voters to understand the candidates' policies, vision, and competence. However, the chaotic nature of this debate highlighted the limitations of the format, especially when one participant needs to respect established norms.

Ultimately, the ability to lead a nation requires more than the ability to perform well in a debate. Competency encompasses a range of skills, including decision-making, diplomacy, and crisis management—qualities that are not always evident in a debate setting. This particular debate, with its focus on rapid exchanges and rule-breaking tactics, did little to illuminate the true capabilities of either candidate.

As voters reflect on the debate, it's crucial to consider the broader context of each candidate's track record, policies, and potential for effective leadership. While debates can offer glimpses into the candidates' personalities and rhetorical skills, they should not be the sole determinant in choosing a leader. The substance of their policies, past performance in public service, and vision for the future are far more critical factors.

In conclusion, the Biden-Trump debate was a microcosm of the current political climate marked by deep divisions and unconventional tactics. Biden's performance, while competent, was hampered by his rapid delivery and the need to counter Trump's barrage of statements. Trump's disregard for debate norms and factual accuracy presented a unique challenge, highlighting the difficulties of engaging with an opponent who plays by different rules, or ignores rules completely. As we move forward, focusing on the broader context of each candidate's capabilities and vision is essential, rather than the chaotic nature of a single debate.

About the Author

jenningsRobert Jennings is co-publisher of with his wife Marie T Russell. He attended the University of Florida, Southern Technical Institute, and the University of Central Florida with studies in real estate, urban development, finance, architectural engineering, and elementary education. He was a member of the US Marine Corps and The US Army having commanded a field artillery battery in Germany. He worked in real estate finance, construction and development for 25 years before starting in 1996.

InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as Please support our work.

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