When Biden said that Trump needed to get “smarter” about the pandemic, Trump erupted, a Vesuvius of petulance and pettiness. “Did you use the word smart?” he asked. “Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word. Because you know what? There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.” His voice was so thick with unwarranted condescension that it made my skin crawl.
When Biden noted that under Trump’s watch, our country became the world leader in recorded deaths related to Covid-19, with more than 200,000 Americans gone, Trump’s retort was a claim so hyperbolic that I didn’t know whether to laugh at its inanity or cry over its insanity. He said that if Biden had been president, two million people would have died.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Trump was breathtaking, and I may even be paying him something of a compliment, because it takes a peerless combination of audacity and mendacity to pull off some of what he pulled off.
On taxes, for example: He turned the revelation that he had paid only $750 in federal income taxes for each of two recent years into an indictment of Biden, as a former senator and vice president, for creating so many tax loopholes.
On federal judges: His boast of appointing scores and scores of them segued into a rebuke of President Barack Obama and Biden for leaving behind so many vacancies, as if they’d simply forgotten about them. Not exactly. Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican majority leader, blocked the Obama administration from filling many of them, and then, after Trump was inaugurated, abetted him.
On the integrity of the upcoming vote count: He pivoted from Wallace’s question about whether he would refrain from declaring victory “until the election has been independently certified” into a fresh exhortation that his supporters serve as poll watchers, looking out for sketchy activity. He’s going to get people hurt. I mean, on top of all the people he has hurt already.
Responding to this pile of bile, Biden was hardly a choir boy. “You’re the worst president America has ever had,” he said at one point. He repeatedly called Trump a liar and several times called him “this clown.”