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In this combination image of two photos showing both President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Wow, the takeaways from last night's presidential debate are plentiful.

Donald Trump was exactly what we knew: Bullying. Loud. Bombastic.

Joe Biden was exactly as we feared: Weak. Bumbling. Confused.

In the end, the debate was an exercise in frustration. The 90 minutes were an argument between grade school-age kids who were supervised by a helpless substitute teacher who lost control of the classroom as soon as the bell rang.

In terms of impact, Trump scored more points, in my opinion, primarily because of his overpowering and unruly approach. But because he refused to deny white supremacists — and even told the white supremacy group Proud Boys to "stand by" — there's simply no way to call Trump the winner. And don't you know the commercials are already being shot framing Trump as a white supremacist supporter.

But Biden didn't win, either.

In fact, that's the biggest takeaway for me. There was nothing but losers Tuesday night in Ohio: The candidates, the host, the fact checkers who were left with the head-spinning reality that the disconnection between reality and rhetoric from both those dudes was fast and neck deep.

To be sure, the polarized ends of the political world were unmoved — Trump's supporters back-slapping each other; Biden's backers secretly breathing a sigh of relief.

But neither looked presidential, but maybe that no longer matters.

And they were not alone in taking an 'L' Tuesday. Chris Wallace, a network broadcast journalist who has crafted as good a résumé as anyone, lost control quickly. Some have noted that he debated Trump more than Biden did.

You and I lost too, because in a divided country facing domestic and foreign issues, these are the only two options we have.

In fact, Tuesday sullied even the dirtiest of dirty politics. That debate will generate monster TV numbers, but it was so bad that it was borderline unwatchable.

The mudslinging was not clever or quick. It was rude and hateful. If Wallace couldn't control it, who could possibly keep the next ones on the rails? Vince McMahon?

If they cannot figure a way to cut the candidates' mics when it's the other man's turn, then cancel the next two debates and be done with it. Because Tuesday was worse than counterproductive; it was revealing of a system that has pushed us to this lose-lose choice.

Wallace's final question to each candidate was a slow-pitch candied apple that gave each man a chance to tell America why voters should pick him. Each turned it into a finger-wagging blame game. That's not a path to solutions; that's a deeper dive into division.

I believe Trump won in 2016 because a vast majority of non-card-carrying party members voted against Hillary every bit as they voted for Donald.

This time, I want to vote against both of the candidates I saw on the debate stage last night.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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