The first — and possibly last? — presidential debate during the 2020 election got off to a relatively quiet start. Moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, laid the ground rules, that incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would each get two minutes apiece to talk, uninterrupted. That lasted for about one exchange. Then Trump lost whatever cool he had and would barely let Biden get more than five words without some interjection or insult, trying — and often succeeding — in throwing his opponent off his game. Sometimes Biden even snapped.
In the first half hour, Biden lost it, greeting one interruption with the instantly iconic words, “Will you shut up, man?” But like Trump, he stepped up his game. At some point during the second half-hour — it’s hard to tell when, time seemed to evaporate while watching it — Trump went after Hunter, Biden’s son, whom he’s accused, without much proof, of shady dealings. Biden tried to defend his son, but was pelted with more Trump blabber. And so he moved on from calling him “man,” and moved onto calling him “clown.”
As Trump goes after Hunter Biden, Joe Biden responds: “it’s hard to get any word in with this clown.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 30, 2020
“It’s hard to get any word in with this clown,” Biden told Wallace, the auditorium’s socially distancing crowd, and the entire world. To his credit, he backed off, recusing himself by calling him a “person,” instead.
The world responded in kind. Some praised Biden for losing his cool in such a Biden-y way.
People wondered if history was being made. (Probably.)
History: the first time a sitting president has been called a clown 🤡 during a debate.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) September 30, 2020
There were clown memes.
And Nicolas Cage memes.
And, inevitably, Joker memes.
“It’s hard to get anywhere with this clown” was my favorite line from joker
— Justin “Hoops” McElroy (@JustinMcElroy) September 30, 2020
Actually, it was the second time Biden had called him a clown within the first hour. There’s just that much going on!
Anyway, as of this moment there was still 40 minutes left. Hang tight.