I’ve got good news for conservatives and independents who watched last Tuesday’s first presidential debate. If you had ‘Witness a Train Wreck’ on your bucket list, feel free to check that one off.

The encounter was a disaster for Trump supporters. When all viewers can recall from a debate is the bickering and not a single sound bite, then the strategy was a failure.

And forget about fighting over earpieces. Tuesday was the first debate in history where allowing candidates to use a teleprompter would have been an improvement. In extemporaneous situations Trump has always been Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am when it comes to staying on message. One quick mention and he’s done.

A ‘prompter might have kept Trump on message and would’ve allowed voters to see Biden can’t even follow a script.

Trump ignored Napoleon’s maxim: Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself. Each time Biden was busy digging himself into a hole, Trump would interrupt and grab the shovel.

I assumed Trump spent about five minutes on debate preparation, but now I think that estimate was generous. He should have been ready for four topics and one strategic problem: Flu Manchu, racism, the economy and law & order.

The strategic problem was Chris Wallace, who was guaranteed to be a hostile interviewer whose sympathies were with Biden.

Most candidate debate preparation includes pre-rehearsed zingers to use on the opponent when he walks into a trap. Think Ronald Reagan and “there you go again” with Jimmy Carter. Trump’s zinger should have been prepared for Wallace with the goal of putting him and the rest of the OpMedia on notice.

Trump could have watched the video of Dick Cheney emasculating the oleaginous Wolf Blitzer. Cheney rejected the premise of loaded questions and refused to fall into Blitzer’s slimy “some people say” innuendo.

Wallace may have guaranteed his retirement income as the chair of a prestigious journalism school with his performance, but Trump didn’t have to help him. The perfect zinger opportunity was when Wallace asked Trump, “But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups…”

Instead of bending over backwards to accommodate Wallace, Trump should have jumped down his throat.

A sample answer, “Let me explain something. I’m the president of the United States and I was elected by almost 63 million Americans of every race, creed and color, and I’ve about had it. You sit there like some prim little schoolmarm and smear those Americans by baselessly implying we welcome the support of racists, bigots and supremacists. You want an answer to your question? Well here it is: I won’t dignify that slander with an answer.”

That would have been the Trump voters elected in 2016. Trump voters are tired of being on the defensive about race and he botched a perfect opportunity.

And that wasn’t the only dropped ball. Trump failed to put the WuFlu in context. When Biden said Trump’s responsible for 200,000 Kung Flu deaths, the president should have said the WuFluenza victims were at least getting treatment. During the Obama/Biden administration 307,000 veterans died WAITING for treatment in VA hospitals.

And the worst is Trump may not have an opportunity to recover because there is a good chance Biden may quit and refuse additional debates.

In the 2016 presidential matchup Trump was the challenger and his goal was to reassure conservatives and Republicans that he would fight for them and that he would implement and defend conservative policies.

He did an excellent job. After his performance in the classic second debate I was converted from tepid to triumphant. Still convinced Trump would lose, I was nevertheless eager to get to the polls and vote for him.

This year his goal was different. Trump was the incumbent and defending his record is part of the job description. He didn’t have command of his own facts and it undermined his credibility much more than any OpMedia attacks ever did.

My suggestion to Trump is acquire some discipline and fast. Conduct the next debate tactically and counter-punch rather than counter-shout. Otherwise there is a very real danger that on November 3rd he may be on the receiving end of two words he made famous, “You’re fired!”

Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at mandate.mmpr@gmail.com.


(13) comments


Thank you Davel2 - [thumbup]


Is ANTIFA a taboo subject? I've mentioned twice that their website takes you to Joe Biden's website yet my posts are nowhere to be found. Try typing it in and you will see. If Joe Biden didn't want it directed there I'm sure he has the mojo to make it not happen, but then again maybe he doesn't even know?


simondog... This is common knowledge and has been going on since September 1st.

Biden's Campaign is not affiliated with it. The web address has been used to redirect to

others as well. This happens all the time on the net and while they are often intended to be malicious, anyone can purchase a domain name and do a redirect with the person on the receiving end, in this case Biden, not being able to do anything about it. It's being done by tech savvy trolls out there, on both sides, that are also trying to associate the Trump Campaign with negative information as well. Although, Trump's own behavior produces more than enough negativity. In any case, most of us are intelligent enough to sort out the BS. However since you keep bringing it up, who ever did this is obviously doing it so people like you can spread it around and claim Biden is part of that evil group known as Antifa. Needless to say for the 9oth time, Antifa is a concept meaning Anti-Fascist, and no organization actually exist. I guess it's just to hard for those in your camp to keep from spreading the ridiculous rumors and innuendo in an effort to keep Trump in office. Unfortunately, Trump is also complicit in this behavior and is encouraging it by repeating this garbage when he's on his soapbox. Hopefully in November, Trump will be voted out and we will have an adult as a President. At that point we can all, together as a nation, work at becoming rational again, or MARA... Make America Rational Again.


Thank you, Dave for the accurate explanation, but sadly none of the trumper's are into facts they just regurgitate the trash FOX gives them and blindly follow the fool.


“Davel2 ” Is it odd that “Antifa” utilizes “Biden!”


"Your" (sic) - Antifa is not a group. Why do you keep repeating that nonsense?


Silly, little guy, why do you keep repeating this debunked trash? Are you incapable of rational thought and truth-telling?


Michael Shannon cites Reagan's famous words "there you go again," but

what he failed to mention, was that was the beginning of the degradation of

Presidential Candidate Debates. The Republicans were so proud of that moment,

despite it would set the tone of arrogance and divisive and unproductive politics for

decades to come. Candidates before that would speak with respect to each other. They would talk about what they wanted to do for the country and how they would enact their vision. Michael thinks "zingers" are important, or should I say, playing tit-for-tat like a 12 year old with unsubstantiated facts. Michael believes acting indignant to a question provides a useful answer. Imagine the most undignified President in history, pretending to act indigent. It's a debate Michael, not a comedy show. He suggest Trump develop some discipline, but that still won't compensate for the fact that Trump consistently tells lies, half-truths and gross exaggerations and rational Americans already know that. Saying such things civilly does not make it true. America deserves better than Trump, but Michael Shannon, the Christian, would support anyone if they would pander to the Evangelical agenda. The only thing Michael got right, was that we all witnessed a train wreck, but that was no surprise as we have been witnessing such for the last four years under Trump's leadership. "Stand back and standby" Michael to be disappointed, because unless Americans have totally lost their minds, Trump will be fired.


Sharing my thoughts:

No mention of an ANTIFA group by “Michael Shannon: What if Antifa sponsored a debate?”

From WSJ 1 Oct 2020: “What is antifa? “An idea, not an organization,” Joe Biden said during Tuesday’s debate. “When a bat hits you over the head, that’s not an idea,” President Trump countered. “Antifa is a dangerous, radical group.” Both men are right—Mr. Biden that antifa is foremost an ideology, and Mr. Trump about its propensity for violence.”

From BigBob (BB), “Always fun to get a good laugh out of the nasty comments from the "Conservative Christian." And will there ever come a time when these fools realize there is no such "group" as ANTIFA? And finally by father could be considered ANTIFA when he fought the Axis in World War Two.”

Is BB referring the Trump and Biden debate and who is “father” who fought in WWII. Was it a group then? I do not get what idea BB is trying to get to with his comment. I do understand what Michael Shannon is commenting about.

There are a lot thoughts and definitions as to what ANTIFA is. Including whatever ever is said to this comment.


I will make it very easy for you to understand - during World War II what we call ANTIFA today were known as the UNITED STATES MILITARY!


Big Bozo, you are just plain stupid.


Who is this "Big Bozo" person you constantly whine about and why don't we ever see any comments from him? Honestly you may not be able to hang on until President Biden sees to it you have access to the mental health care you so desperately need.


Always fun to get a good laugh out of the nasty comments from the "Conservative Christian." And will there ever come a time when these fools realize there is no such "group" as ANTIFA? And finally by father could be considered ANTIFA when he fought the Axis in World War Two.

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