Let us pray: That was the last presidential debate in which we ever have to watch Donald Trump for the rest of our lives.
I know I should be careful what I wish for: If Trump wins or steals the election next month, there might never be another debate—because who knows if or when we’ll have elections. I don’t mean to sound shrill, but it’s a scary scenario.
But I don’t think that will be the case. Trump lumbered out onstage surreally slowly Thursday night, under unusually heavy makeup, perhaps still dealing with his Covid issues. As the night wore on, he seemed stronger; still, former vice president Joe Biden won the final debate. His knockout came when moderator Kristen Welker of NBC brought up what might be the most searing moral indictment facing Americans thanks to this lawless administration: The fact, as reported by NBC and confirmed by others in the last few days, that Trump’s people, directed by Santa Monica Satan Stephen Miller, ripped 545 children of asylum seekers from their parents’ arms, detained them, deported the parents—and then lost track of the parents. So at least 545 children, some of them babies, are essentially orphaned, detained somewhere in the United States, in our name.
Welker asked this about an hour into the debate. Trump either didn’t know the truth, or lied. (You guess.) “These children were brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they used to use them to get into our country,” he harrumphed.
Of course, Welker was talking about children we know were brought here by, and separated from, their actual flesh-and-blood parents. That’s what reporting on these children, has documented. Biden came back with an eloquence he hadn’t quite had until that point to say so: “These 500-plus kids came with parents,” he challenged Trump. “They separated them at the border, to make it a disincentive to come to begin with. It makes us really tough. We’re really strong,” he added sarcastically. “Coyotes didn’t bring them over. Their parents were with them,” he said, steam rising. “They got separated from their parents, and it makes us a laughingstock, and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”
He continued, and it was moving, “Let’s talk about what we’re talking about: parents, their kids were ripped from their arms, and separated. And now they can’t find over 500 sets of those parents, and those kids were alone. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to go. It’s criminal. It’s criminal.”
Trump replied with the chilling line, “Kristen, I will say this: They are so well taken care of, they’re in facilities that are so clean.”
So we have children we’ve essentially orphaned, but they’re in “facilities that are so clean.” I don’t know if that will move any voters, but I sure hope so.
Later, Trump tried to attack Biden for Obama administration policies that allowed asylum seekers to stay in this country while their claims were heard. Though pilot support programs showed that more than 90 percent of those immigrants showed up for court dates, Trump insisted that only people with “the lowest IQ” did so, defending his indecent policies and again displaying his deep racism. Sadly, Welker didn’t refute Trump’s claims—for all the praise she received, I still think she could have done a minimum of fact-checking, and she didn’t—and Biden tried, but weakly.
Though the famous new format kept each man quiet while the other was making his two-minute reply to direct moderator questions, otherwise they could butt in—and Trump butted in most of all. It was annoying, at least to me, but it didn’t help him; he looked like a big, wild wounded animal—because he is. Biden had some rocky moments, especially when Trump was bullying him. I hate to note that he stuttered, except Biden is honest about his childhood stuttering problem—a challenge that is never fully vanquished. So he stuttered, briefly, a couple of times, when Trump was being a particular abomination.
But he never stuttered when talking about the children Trump ripped away from their parents. You could see Biden’s own losses, of two of his children, in his passion. And he never stuttered at all after that. Here’s hoping he keeps that clear moral voice through Election Day.