Was the Final Presidential Debate Incomprehensible to Normies?
After that disastrous first presidential debate in September, Donald Trump and Joe Biden managed to pull it together for round two. A lot of the words out of President Trump’s mouth last night were still incomprehensible or untrue, but he generally managed to wait his turn to say them and do so in his soft voice. Biden also kept his cool, as Trump repeatedly accused the Democratic presidential nominee and his son Hunter of being involved in shady foreign business dealings.
Trump wound snippets of this theory—which originates with Rudy Giuliani and was published by the New York Post—throughout what was otherwise a fairly subdued and substantive second debate.
If you closely follow election news and online media/tech controversies, much of what Trump said on stage last night may have been familiar, or at least not inscrutable. But less extremely plugged-in voters can’t have known what to make of Trump’s scattered insinuations and accusations about the Biden family. Trump careened wildly between random pieces of his Biden conspiracy theory, wielding references to laptops, nicknames, and Anthony Bobulinski like weapons without ever explaining fundamentally what he was talking about.
(If you’re curious about Bobulinski, who was Trump’s guest at the debate last night, check out this Wall Street Journal article, which found “no role for Joe Biden” in a Chinese oil venture that Bobulinski was trying to set up with Hunter Biden and several other partners in 2017.)
Trump—accustomed to slagging Biden in front of his online fan club, at adoring campaign rallies, and to Fox News sycophants—treated the general audience for last night’s debate as if they, too, obviously kept up with the same preoccupations as right-wing Twitter. It was a symptom of a malady Jane Coaston diagnosed in detail yesterday: “Trump’s presidential campaign is too online“:
To be Extremely Online is not simply to be literally connected to the internet (as you likely are at this very moment), but to be deeply enmeshed in a world of internet culture, reshaped by internet culture, and, most importantly, to believe that the world of internet culture matters deeply offline.
Being Extremely Online is both a reformation of the delivery of ideas—shared through words and videos and memes and GIFs and copypasta—and the ideas themselves, a world in which Twitter effectiveness counts as political effectiveness despite Twitter’s comparatively small audience.
The importance of those ideas is then judged not by their real-world impact but on their corresponding popularity or infamy in the world of Online. A trending topic on Twitter becomes a critical locus of entirely online discussion, a Facebook post becomes an infamous online reference for
Article from Latest – Reason.com