Elizabeth Bruenig Trump could’ve defused the question of whether or not he disavows white supremacists by disavowing white supremacists in an emphatic and straightforward way or, to dream even bigger, by first apologizing for having given the impression he feels any differently. Instead, clearly offended and put-upon, Trump offhandedly disavowed white supremacy and then listed all sorts of other things he disavows, including antifa and rioters, before fuming about why nobody else gets asked if they disavow white supremacists. I stand to win $15 if this waste of time culminates in Trump complaining on Twitter about Guthrie’s meanness, drawing further attention to an unwatchable drag.
Matthew Continetti The best part of the 2020 campaign has been the everyday voters who find themselves in the media spotlight. All of the voters at the NBC town hall asked poised and intelligent questions. But I will always remember the voter who complimented the presidential smile and the anonymous woman sitting behind Trump who nodded hypnotically at his every word while shaking her head in disappointment at the moderator’s interjections. I have a feeling I know how they will both vote in November.
Michelle Cottle So many bad moments to choose from. Maybe the worst was when Trump not only declined to denounce the QAnon nutters but also gushed about how great it is that they are anti-pedophilia — because he feels the same way! It was also bad when he pretended that there is serious dispute about the public health benefits of wearing masks, based largely on some encounter he had with a waiter. Also not good: when he said that people should decide for themselves whether to believe his retweet of a conspiracy theory that President Obama had SEAL team 6 killed to cover up that Osama bin Laden isn’t really dead. It was predictably appalling when he doubled down on his claims that there is massive voter fraud taking place. And all that is before you get into his policy tap dancing on issue like pre-existing conditions and immigration. In short: the usual Trumpian bullfest.
Daniel McCarthy The best moment was President Trump’s insistence that he wouldn’t try to set expectations for Amy Coney Barrett’s rulings. He could have said what his base wanted to hear, or he could have said something vague and pleasing to all. Instead he said something true and displeasing — judges should not be proxies for political questions. (And political questions, by implication, belong in politics, not courts.)
Frank Bruni and Michelle Goldberg are Times columnists.
Elizabeth Bruenig (@ebruenig) is a Times opinion writer.
Matthew Continetti (@continetti) is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Michelle Cottle (@mcottle) is a member of the editorial board.
Melanye Price (@ProfMTP), a professor of political science at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, is the author, most recently, of “The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race.”
Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner), a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who served in the previous three Republican administrations, is a contributing opinion writer and the author of “The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.”