That moment when Trump just let Biden keep talking...
President Trump had several good moments in the final debate, as Andrea Widburg noted in her excellent curation here.
In my own view, the standout moment came last, when Trump just drew out Joe Biden on energy, first on fracking, and then on the entire energy industry, setting him up and then ... letting him keep talking.
In response to debate moderator Kristen Welker's question about poor communities living downwind of refineries and having health issues, Trump spoke of the jobs that drew them to the area, which had some strength, but he might have added that any such issues were local issues in Democrat-run cities, underlining the importance of not voting for Democrats. It worked well enough, though.
But what really helped him was when he got Joe Biden talking.
Like a good probing moderator, Trump drew Biden out on what he really had in mind when he put out maudlin stories of the smokestack era of his youth, and Biden took the bait every time.
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Here's the transcript:
[1:27:26] Biden: My response is that those people live on what they call ‘Fence Lines’. He doesn't understand this. They live near chemical plants that, in fact, pollute. Chemical plants, and oil plants and refineries that pollute. I used to live near that when I was growing up in Claremont, Delaware. And all the more oil refineries in Marcus Hook and the Delaware River than there is anyplace, including in Houston at the time. When my mom would get the car when they're first frost to drive me to school, turned on the windshield wipers there’d be oil slick in the window. That's why so many people in my state were dying and getting cancer. The fact is those frontline communities, it doesn't matter what you're paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do? And you impose restrictions on the pollution, that the pollutants coming out of those fenceline communities.
[1:28:12] Welker: OK, I have one final question--
[1:28:14] Trump: Would you close down the-- Would you close down the oil industry?
[1:28:17] Biden: I would transition from the oil industry. Yes.
[1:28:19] Trump: Oh, transition.
[1:28:21] Biden: It is a big statement because I would stop--
[1:28:22] Welker: Why would you do that?
[1:28:24] Biden: Because the oil industry significantly — but here's the deal —
[1:28:27] Trump: That’s a big statement.
[1:28:31] Biden: Well, if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time. Over time. And I’d stop giving to the oil industry-- I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. You won't give federal subsidies to the gas and, excuse me, to solar and wind. Why are we giving it to the oil industry?
[1:28:52] Trump: We actually do give it to solar and wind--
[1:28:54] Welker: All right, we have one final question--
[1:28:56] Trump: That’s the biggest statement. In terms of business. that's the biggest statement.
Key inflection point: Trump jumped in on Welker, who was trying to change the topic to something else, and asked him point blank the important question: whether he would shut down the American oil industry, and she actually carried along with it.
Biden went into his transparent drivel about 'transitioning' the oil industry, an unfortunate euphemism, given its association now with transexual chemical distortions and bodily mutilations of that issue, and then just kept digging.
"Over time," Biden flailed a couple of times.
In other words, slow-motion destruction, which is still destruction, just drawn out to be a slower and more painful death.
And it was old, tired stuff, too, spoken as if the Obama administration had never already tried it.
Plenty of Americans can remember it, though - the Solyndras, the crony corruption, the cash for clunkers fiasco, the dependence on China for rare earth metals used in green energy and actual solar panels, the new hipster class of green hucksters getting rich. And right now in California, the green energy mandates are leading to rolling blackouts and bankrupted utilities which can no longer maintain their equipment to prevent it from causing wildfires because they must sink so much of their capital into these unsustainable green schemes. It's also impossible to do on a wide scale due to the unavailability of rare-earth metals for every city, county and state which wants them, never mind the rest of the world's appetite. Power Line had a good one about that total disaster here.
The idea of Californifying America is a potent issue for many Americans, particularly since so many Californians are fleeing -- and moving to their states to tell them about it.
Then Biden brought up the old Obama-era canard about tax subsidies to Big Oil, which are actually credits available to every corporation, Big Oil no exception, as if they should be singled out for some special punishment for keeping America's lights on. (Grandpa Gropes, what did socialists use before candles? Electricity, my pretty one.) Then Trump slipped in that wind and solar power are all about subsidies, so unsustainable and inefficient they only survive on tax exemptions and credits. Many voters know that when those bennies dry up, the industry blows away.
It was a superb performance, drawing Biden out on his horrible schemes to restore oil supremacy to the world's petrotyrants, make Venezuela great again, put America's oil industry out of work ('learn to code,' as Joe told the coal miners) and then just kept letting him talk, augmenting with a few repetitions to underline Biden's huge plans to take America's world-class energy industry under.
One hopes this sinks in for undecided voters in swing states - a slow painful death for America's oil industry with chintzy, ineffient green energy offered in exchange. Biden relied on outright lies through much of the debate, saying things that were in exact contradiction to his earlier statements such as those on fracking, or else simply untrue, as he claimed, without explanation, that he never took cash from foreign sources, and that his influence-peddling son did "nothing wrong." But as the American Spectator notes in an excellent piece on this, on energy, he let the mask slip. Right where his swing voters live.
It ought to be enough to sink him. Trump knew what he was doing when he did the moderator's job for her, and drew Biden out.
Image credit: CSPAN screen shot, via shareable YouTube