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The president disgraced both himself and, by extension, the United States of America during Tuesday’s debate.

Mr. Trump, angry and scowling, appeared incapable of exercising everyday grownup restraint. He constantly interrupted Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.

When Joe Biden pointed out the difficulty in dealing with the president’s constant interruptions and rantings, Wallace admitted, “I’m having a little trouble myself.” To their credit, debate officials are considering use of a microphone “kill” button or a similar mechanism in the next debate.

Biden displayed as much normalcy as was possible given the cacophonous side show taking place 10 feet away. Conversely, the White House carnival barker presented us with chaos, darkness, irrationality and contempt for our election system. Joe Biden was debating, or attempting to debate, as Chris Wallace played hostage negotiator in a failed effort to convince the president to put down the gun and come out of the house.

Biden mostly remained calm despite the madness, although his demeanor broke somewhat when Trump interrupted Biden’s description of his late son’s military service. Evidently having lived to the age of 74 without having acquired an ounce of class, Donald Trump barged in, chiding Biden about his other son’s Ukraine connections. Thus, the president eagerly was taking notice of the speck in Biden’s eye while overlooking the Ukraine-sized mote in his own.

Irony put in an appearance when, after months of claiming that Joe Biden was somehow mentally unfit to be president, prior to the debate the Trump campaign instead began to frame Biden as a “skilled debater,” which was followed by the president’s on-stage implosion. Biden displayed a remarkable calm and held on to his dignity fairly well as he attempted to discuss policy matters such as health care, COVID-19, climate change and race relations while Trump’s simultaneous out-of-control fulminations took place at the other podium.

The president continued his pattern of sowing divisiveness in the American soil. Among his many slogs into the swirling soup of his own strange mental processes, Trump’s low point occurred when he refused to take a stand against white supremacy. Instead, he asked the violence-prone Proud Boys, who masquerade as patriotic Americans, to “Stand back and stand by,” as if to await his orders to take action. Asked about that a day later, he claimed not to know anything about the Proud Boys.

But what sort of action would he have the Proud Boys hate group take? Intimidation of voters? Physical attacks at polling places? Creation of general mayhem in the streets so that Trump may then blame the ensuing melees on liberals or Black Lives Matter or “radicals” or Democrats or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden or climate scientists or Dr. Fauci or China or Muslims or caravans or some other individual or group that roosts in the belfry of the president’s thinking?

While Joe Biden looked into the camera and spoke directly to the American people, Donald Trump fulminated like a snake-handling preacher on bath salts. Biden projected stable leadership while Donald Trump projected something never before seen in a presidential debate — the image of a madman who, without giving it a second thought, would burn down the house that was built by our Founding Fathers.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at