Did we have a winner in Cleveland?
Come to that shortly, but Trump v Biden lived up to the hype.
The biggest loser was Chris Wallace who had a neigh on impossible job to contain the madness. The mistake that was made was setting segments with topics.
They started with the Supreme Court but barely covered it, as both candidates let rip at each other, the animosity took about three seconds to emerge.
Wallace threw his hands up, insisted he was the moderator, looked exasperated and generally failed to contain the scrap.
This, by the way wasn’t his fault, and I feel scared for the next two moderators.
Trump was Trump, he bullied his way, he cajoled. If you want a bulldozer in a debate, he’s your man.
Biden looked initially frustrated but used a clever tactic to stare down the camera and talked to ‘the folks at home’ a lot - probably the best thing he could have done.
In the Covid segment, Trump managed to take the death rate and what generally has been seen as a disaster and managed to turn it into an anti- Democrat rant over closed towns and states. He made a segment that could have gone badly seem remarkably successful.
This sort of stuff happened a lot. There was nuance and subtly in each of the so called segments but in reality both held their ground mainly.
Both made reasonable points, both made up for the fact there was no energy coming from an audience that under normal circumstances would have been all over it. As a scrap, it was good telly.
When Trump raised Burisma, Biden struggled, as did Wallace who clearly was over his job and I suspect wanted to go home.
He complained of the raised voices and the interruptions, and kept telling them about the change of segments and how each had two minutes uninterrupted.
No two minutes went uninterrupted, and I doubt there is a single person who could have told you what the segment was meant to be about.
They could have started any of the segments with any topic: oranges, supersonic aircraft, primates of Papua New Guinea, it didn’t matter. It took in a life of its own, each and every time.
Trump, in general, defended his record well, and he highlighted the Biden problems well. Biden was more defensive than offensive, and given the perceived weaknesses of the Trump administration, he could have done a lot more.
Trump called Biden on a lot of issues, many he came back well on, some he didn’t.
The value of the debate was you saw the two men in the same room going head to head under pressure, on their toes.
What they said was not unique and was nothing that hadn’t been seen or heard before separately, but eye ball to eye ball, it was gripping.
It was a slugfest, it was a heavyweight title fight.
Ultimately, no one got knocked down. Except Chris Wallace who was out for the count and concussed about 30 minutes in, and if he’s lucky he won’t remember a thing about it.
But on points, I think Trump got it. But like boxing, in calling Trump on points, that’s probably controversial. I doubt votes got swayed but like, I suspect millions, I’ll be back for round two in a couple of weeks.