Shut up and listen

Published 2:24 pm Friday, October 2, 2020

President Trump was his own worst enemy at Tuesday night’s big debate.

As we’ve said here a dozen times, he still hasn’t learned when to shut up.

He stepped on his own message dozens of times and interrupted Joe Biden so often and so quickly that Old Joe never had the chance to hang himself with his damning or garbled answers.

We didn’t need to hear Trump tell us what he thinks about rebuilding the post-COVID-19 economy or what an idiot the mayor of Portland is.

We’ve seen and heard that noise a hundred times. Every day, it seems.

What the country needed to see more of, however, was Basement Joe Biden. He was the mystery candidate who needed to reveal himself and his ideas to us.

I wanted Biden to have plenty of time at the debate to show us just how out of it he is and how unprepared he is to be president.

I wanted the whole country to see him try to defend the New Green Deal and his $4 trillion tax hike and tell us if he’s in favor of packing the U.S. Supreme Court with more Democrats.

What I and the rest of the world got instead at the debate was an aggressive, ill-prepared and un-presidential president who forgot he was a contestant and thought he was the co-moderator.

It was so frustrating to see him cut in so often that at one point I was shouting at the TV, “Shut the hell up, Trump! Let Joe go off the rails!”

I’m sure I wasn’t the only frustrated Republican screaming at their TV on Tuesday night.

If Trump really wants to spare the Free World the horrors of a President Biden, he’d better learn a few things before the next debate or town hall.

First off, he needs to concentrate on saying “we” more often than “I.”

He also needs to learn how to listen to the moderator’s question or Biden’s answer, respond to it, and turn it back to his advantage.

The two idiots who helped Trump prepare for the debate — Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani — obviously didn’t stress that smart tactic.

Those two were terrible choices, by the way. Both are failed presidential candidates. Both are attack dogs, not debate coaches.

I talked to half a dozen conservatives on Wednesday and we all came up with better answers than Trump gave to the questions that Christy, Giuliani and Barron Trump knew the president would have to answer.

For example, when asked about reports he paid only $750 in federal income tax in two recent years, Trump should have had this answer memorized:

“Yes, Chris. I paid $750 for two years, but in previous years I paid tens of millions in income tax. I’m a businessman. And the reason I could pay only $750 was I was able to take advantage of the tax laws that Joe Biden and Barack Obama put together a decade ago. But I didn’t break the law. And by the way, 60 other huge companies used the same laws to pay no taxes, including Chevron and Amazon.”

If Trump wanted to turn the tables and take a jab at Biden, he could have added, “Joe, I bet Hunter used those same laws to lower the taxes on that $3.5 million dollars he got from the mayor of Moscow.”

Humor is a powerful weapon in debates, as my dad knew. Next time, the president also needs to lighten up and use the same sense of humor he displays at his rallies.

Most important, though, he has to learn to listen more and talk less. My mother taught me a long time ago to be a good listener and I put it to good use during my talk radio career.

For his next debate, maybe President Trump should have Tucker Carlson prepare him instead of Christy and Giuliani.

Why?

Because Tucker knows how to do it. He asks tough questions. He doesn’t interrupt his guests. And he’s a great listener.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to reagan@caglecartoons.com.