The Final Presidential Debate
Belmont University
Nashville, Tennessee
October 23, 2020

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9:04 PM: NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Welker opens the debate by welcoming the audience and reminding them that, in order to allow pundits to prewrite their ledes for the next day’s coverage of this debate, they will be forcing Trump to “strike a new tone” by muting microphones when it is not his turn to speak. She then introduces the candidates. Former Vice President Joe Biden walks out to his podium, appearing somewhat unaware of his surroundings. President Donald Trump tilts forward like a hefty sailboat at the onset of a hurricane.

9:05 PM: The first topic is the coronavirus crisis. Welker notes that 40,000 Americans are currently in the hospital with Covid. She, seemingly forgetting that Trump has been leading the country to this disastrous point, asks him how he would lead the country during this next stage. Trump responds by saying that “2.2 million people were supposed to die, you know, but I talked to some of the scientists, they love me and, ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘maybe don’t kill all those people,’ and you know they had a point because some of them live in red states, so I said, ‘OK, OK, I am very powerful and I could kill as many as I wanted, but sure, you seem like you need a win, so I’ll go ahead and kill a few fewer people,’ because I’m like that, you know. I’m just a softie, maybe too soft — no, no folks, I’m very tough. Invincible? Some are saying invincible. I don’t know, I could be invincible. I might run through this wall right now. Oh, my haters would love to see that. When you look at what we were able to do with goggles and masks, just thinking about them, I mean, not actually wearing or supplying any of them. They asked me about PPE, and I said, ‘Americans are the greatest people in the world. They don’t want us to HAND them protective gear. Nurses are creative, they want to innovate garbage bags on their feet and Halloween masks as surgical gear,’ and I let them do that, you know it’s very unfair no one gives me credit for letting them do that.” Welker motions to a production assistant to reconfirm that two minutes is, in fact, typically a short period of time.

9:08 PM: Welker asks the same question of Biden. He begins to answer and then pauses as if waiting to be interrupted. Hearing nothing, he continues, “Two hundred and twenty thousand Americans are dead.” Biden ducks, but nothing is thrown. He goes on, “Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain President of the United States of America.” He pauses again. Welker nods at him to keep it moving, “OK, alright, I get the talking time. OK, well, look, the president still has no plans. I’ll make sure people wear masks all the time, I’ll do rapid national testing, I’ll…” He takes out a top hat and a cane and tries some old-timey soft-shoe. “Still have time, do I? No one’s ever given me this much time before! Listen, folks, you get the whole thing, right?” He hooks himself with his own cane and pulls himself offstage.

9:10 PM: The pandemic discussion forges ahead. Welker states that Trump has claimed that a vaccine could come within weeks and asks if that timeline is realistic. Trump responds, “Look, have you seen our military? They can roll into any city and take care of it. Throw the virus in an unmarked van, tear gas it, whatever it takes.” Biden responds, “This is the same fellow who told you this would end by Easter. We’re heading into a dark winter.” Trump counters that he’s never seen that one, but he enjoys Captain America in all the movies. “I didn’t say this virus would be over soon," Trump says. "I said that it’s like when you’ve signed a ridiculous prenup that makes you stuck in a marriage with a woman over 30 — we’re learning to live with it.” Biden’s eyes sparkle with the light shining from this opening Trump has given him, and says, “He says we’re learning to live with it — people are learning to die with it.” Biden’s marketing team immediately begins printing stickers with that line on them, so they could be affixed to all their unsold flyswatters. Trump fires back, “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault.” Biden’s marketing team pauses and considers if the stickers should say Trump’s line instead.

9:18 PM: As Biden insists on greater safety protocols for the country, Trump points to blue states as failures. “Look at New York,” he says. "It’s a ghost town. I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and only shoot half as many people as before!”

9:26 PM: In a moment of standard barb-trading, Trump pulls out his phone and plays a video of supercuts of Breitbart, The Daily Stormer and Alex Jones’ clips claiming that Joe Biden received millions to eat Russian dressing with Bernie Sanders and the CEO of Antifa, and that Hunter Biden is a cyborg meth addict with a really dumb name. Meanwhile, Biden points out that Donald Trump has still not released his tax returns. Trump responds that he will release them just as soon as China sends his receipt back to him. He adds that after talking to his accountants for the first time in the six years he’s been promising to show his tax returns, he was just informed that, in fact, he prepaid his taxes through a top-level process where they pick up several hundred thousand dollars worth of gift cards at the grocery store for the IRS.

9:42 PM: Turning to foreign policy, Welker mentions how Trump has met with the leader of North Korea and has referred to sharing “beautiful letters” with him. But now that North Korea has unveiled massive new ballistic missiles, she asks Trump if he sees that as a betrayal of their relationship. The president nods with a new, more presidential tone, and says, “No, he’s a different guy, I’m a different guy, that’s what makes the world beautiful, appreciating the differences in fascist leaders intent on crushing their populace in all sorts of unique and wonderful ways. Anyway, Obama wanted to be friends with Kim Jong Un and couldn’t, so now I have him. Even though, Obama, you know we’re best friends too, I hang out with everyone, everyone wants more of me, ‘Sir’ — they all say, ‘sir’ — ‘Sir, won’t you love us forever?’ And I say, ‘Of course,’ I mean, I can’t have time for everyone, but I will take care of all of our people, like our seniors — I will make sure they have the nice embrace of the grave, and they thank me for it, they all do.” Biden looks into the camera, “I am sorry to be so direct, but look here, this is some gosh darn gibberty nonsense.”

10:02 PM: Moving to one of the most upsetting recent news stories, Welker asks Trump about the 545 children separated from their parents at the border by the United States whose parents can’t be located. Trump, pivoting again to his calmer, more restrained tone, replies that the terrified kidnapped babies were totally fine, and their accommodations have been upgraded from sub-diseased-rat conditions to sub-human conditions.

10:16 PM: Welker asks Trump about the ways he has stoked racial division in the country. Trump, in a clear play to his base, which consists entirely of racists, responds by claiming to be “the least racist person in the room, but…” Biden replies, “Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had. This guy has a dog whistle as big as Foghorn Leghorn, a well-known racist.” Trump gestures as though he’s trying to jump up and down but has long since lost the ability to do so and exclaims, “Abraham Lincoln! Why did you call me that?” Biden answers, “Because you called yourself that.” Trump responds, “Ha-ha, so you say what I say now? Copy cat! Jinx! You’re out! If you wanted to be president, you should have done that already, but I’m the president now, and also a little witty baby with a nice gentle tone who can’t do anything at all.” Melania walks onstage and begrudgingly hands him a bottle, then leaves. Welker holds up a whiteboard to a production assistant that reads, SHOCK COLLAR?. The assistant shakes his head and holds up a sign that says, THEY ONLY LET US HAVE THE MUTE BUTTON.

10:24 PM: Biden refers to climate change as an existential threat. Trump retorts, “Biden is trying to force everyone to have tiny windows. We all know AOC plus three all want this, everyone in socialism wears these suits that are all one color with little windows on their faces, and they run around among us in some sort of space-themed setting! They’ll destroy your 401Ks! And fracking!” Welker asks Biden if he is against fracking, and Biden takes out all his fracking tools and begins to frack the stage. “My mother used to get us up in the morning for a good healthy early frack, we’d frack on our way to school, but it was a poor town, and they couldn’t frack at the levels that the frackers get to frack today. I will never take this gentle baby frack from anyone, and that is my promise.” Trump asks in his most obnoxious new tone, “Ohhhhh? Ohhhhh, really, reallllllllllllllly??? Well, what about oil?” Biden stares back at the president. “Fuck oil,” he says, adding, “I mean, over time of course.”

10:34 PM: For the closing question, Welker walks onto the stage, calmly pulls back her fist, and pops Trump directly in the face with a death blow. Before he hits the ground, he explodes into a cloud of noxious dust. Welker pours lighter fluid on the space where Trump previously stood. Flicking a match, she says, “OK, then. Now that he’s gone, the real work can start.”

And that’s when I woke up. But I really, really hope that’s what happened.

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Please don’t ever make me write one of these again. See if you can vote early here.