Be careful what you wish for,” is one of those idioms that I would be smart to remember more often.

I was almost giddy with “about to see a train wreck” excitement heading into Tuesday night’s first of three presidential debates.

Yet, despite being just-about everything I gleefully expected, within the first ten minutes, I could hardly watch.

It wasn’t a fun disaster; it was uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Here were our two choices to lead this global superpower, 330-million people strong, for the next four years bickering at each other with less coherence and dignity than one might expect from middle-schoolers debating who would make the best class president.

It reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite books growing up, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Regarding the role of the Galactic President in his sci-fi universe, Adams says:

“The President in particular is very much a figurehead — he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason, the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it. On those criteria Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful Presidents the Galaxy has ever had — he has already spent two of his ten presidential years in prison for fraud.”

Science fiction becomes a reality once again!

I refuse to believe either of the men occupying that debate stage will ever possess anywhere near the power we are supposed to think is wielded by the person sitting in the Oval Office. If either Joe Biden or Donald Trump tries to call in a nuclear strike, do you really think those orders ever get through?

They exist to keep us arguing about nonsense instead of comparing the trillions our government gave to their donors and Wall St during the pandemic, while cutting us a measly $1,200 check and saying, “fend for yourselves.”

We are well into Douglas Adams’ prophetic “president as nothing more than a distraction” phase of the republic, of that I’m sure. All the more reason to treat these charades as the entertainment events they are — thanks to political betting sites, that’s easier to do than ever before.

By the way…

I had to watch that wretched debate twice for you people. First, to get a sense of who “won,” then to count the words and phrases involved in totals bets. I suffer for my readers.

Did Anyone Benefit from the First Debate?

If either candidate were aided in any way by Tuesday’s debate, it was probably Joe Biden. The former vice president, benefiting from an exceptionally low bar coming into the head-to-head, managed to endure the entire 90-minute broadcast without losing his composure or melting down.

Biden hasn’t handled criticism well this election cycle; it appeared that Trump planned to interrupt and fluster his 77-year-old opponent in hopes of triggering a humiliating gaffe. Instead, the President came across as an annoying bully at times.

There were several instances where Trump could have scored major points by attacking the Democratic nominee’s significant vulnerabilities in a detailed, organized manner. But he’s too scatter-brained to make a coherent point.

For example

The President would start talking about Hunter’s business dealings, then say he was “dishonorably discharged [from the military] for cocaine use. In the end, you could see the pain on the Vice President’s face when his kids were mentioned. and Trump didn’t prosecute the case in a meaningful way.

Because Trump failed to calmly and thoroughly prosecute the case against Hunter, it just came across as a low blow.

And that’s how the entire debate went.

Neither participant ever “debated” anything.

They just shot off insulting one-liners at each other, promised they each had a “plan,” and repeatedly claimed the other guy’s election would mean certain doom for the country.

It’s Not 2016

As I suspected, Donald Trump’s antics aren’t as enjoyable when levied upon a somewhat sympathetic figure. It was a blast watching Hillary Clinton insulted and flummoxed by professional wrestling promos; it’s different when it’s someone who comes across as a decent human being (despite his congressional record saying otherwise).

Now that Trump didn’t capitalize on Biden’s inability to debate outside of his prepared remarks and the Democrat came across more “adult,” if not presidential, the question is whether the two candidates will do it again.

I’ve predicted the Biden campaign will argue that debating the President is pointless and either cancel the remaining meetings or hand them off to Kamala Harris and Mike Pence.

Today, I’m no longer sure that’s necessary.

The Democrats may feel confident in Joe Biden giving two more of the same performances.

If Donald Trump can’t drag him into deep waters by engaging in substantive arguments, what’s there to fear?

First Presidential Debate Prop Bet Results

Before moving on to the betting odds for the second and third scheduled presidential debates, let’s take a look at which wagers won on Tuesday night.

These markets were all covered in my article titled, “Crazy ‘What Will Trump/Biden Say During the Debate’ Prop Bets,” published September 24.

I’ll also obnoxiously let you know which bets you would have won had you copied my pick. Although, I admittedly did not make predictions on all the betting lines.

The following ‘first presidential debate’ props were provided by MyBookie.

Will Donald Trump Say “Q anon”?

Surprisingly, “Q anon” was never mentioned by either Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

Winner: No “Q anon”

-500

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

Will Donald Trump Say “Sleepy Joe”?

Winner: No “Sleepy Joe”

-200

Will Donald Trump Mention Joe Biden’s Basement?

Winner: No Mention of Joe’s Basement

+120

How Many Times Will Donald Trump Say “China”?

Over/Under Trump Says “China”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 6.5 -500
  • Under 6.5 +300

This went well over 6.5; Trump repeated the name “China” ten times!

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

Will Donald Trump Say “Anarchists”?

Winner: No “anarchists”

+400

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

How Many Times Will Donald Trump Say “Antifa”?

Over/Under Trump Says “Antifa”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 4.5 +155
  • Under 4.5 -220

Trump only said “antifa” twice, falling under the total of 4.5.

How Many Times Will Donald Trump Say “Portland”?

Over/Under Trump Says “Portland”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 2.5 -280
  • Under 2.5 +190

Trump said “Portland” three times, covering the over.

How Many Times Will Donald Trump Say “Seattle”?

Over/Under Trump Says “Seattle”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 1.5 +150
  • Under 1.5 -200

Trump said “Seattle” twice, covering the over.

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

Will Donald Trump Mention Ted Wheeler by Name?

Winner: No Mentions of Ted Wheeler

-800

Will Donald Trump Say, “Law and Order”?

Will Trump Say It?

  • BetOdds
  • Yes -1100
  • No +550

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

How Many Times Will Donald Trump Say “Law and Order”?

Over/Under Trump Says “Law and Order”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 3.5 +100
  • Under 3.5 -140

Trump said “law and order” seven times, easily covering the over 3.5 at +100!

How Many Times Will Joe Biden Say “Q” or “Q anon”?

Over/Under Biden Says “Q Anon”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 1.5+300
  • Under 1.5 -500

Joe Biden never uttered the term “Q anon.”

Will Joe Biden Say “Very Fine People”?

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

Will Joe Biden Call Donald Trump a “Racist”?

How Many Times Will Joe Biden Say “Antifa”?

Over/Under Biden Says “Antifa”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 1.5 +300
  • Under 1.5 -500

Biden only said “antifa” once going under the 1.5 totals line.

Will Joe Biden Say “Fact Check”?

Winner: No “fact check”

+120

Will Joe Biden Call Donald Trump a “Liar”?

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

Will Joe Biden Mention “Bob Woodward”?

Will Joe Biden Mention Number of USA COVID-19 Deaths?

Will Biden Say It?

  • BetOdds
  • Yes -1100
  • No +550

I gave you the right pick last week!!!

Will Biden Misquote Number of USA COVID Deaths by Over 100k?

Will Biden Misquote COVID Death Total?

Biden did misquote the deaths total, accidentally saying “200 million” again, but immediately corrected himself.

Here’s the direct quote:

“The deal is that this is going to wipe out pre-existing condition — by the way, the 20, the 200 million, the 200,000 people that have died on his watch.”

I’ll reach out to MyBookie about their decision on that line.

I gave you the right pick last week!!!
And I quote:
“He won’t try to quote a BS number like 350,000; if “Yes” wins this bet, it’ll be because Biden says “200 million” again. I think his campaign staff will train the “million” out of Joe before Tuesday.”

Will Joe Biden Say “Russia”?

Winner: No “Russia”

+400

How Many Times Will Joe Biden Say “China”?

Over/Under Biden Says “China”

  • BetOdds
  • Over 2.5 -120
  • Under 2.5 -120

Biden said “China” three times, covering the over.

Will There Be More Presidential Debates?

The next two meetings between the candidates take place one week apart from each other in mid-October.

  • The second presidential debate is on October 15, in Miami, Florida, and
  • the third is October 22, in Nashville, Tennessee.

As those dates draw near, political betting sites will offer large slates of debate prop bets, like what we saw for this week’s action.

In the meantime, all that’s available for betting is whether the next two occurrences will happen at all!

Will Joe Biden Participate in Second Debate?

BetOnline Politics Prop

  • BetOdds
  • Yes -1500
  • No +600

If you want an objective analysis of who won the first debate, look no further than the betting lines shared in this section. Before Tuesday’s performance, the odds of Joe Biden participating in the second debate were set at –350.

That number has jumped to –1500!

Sure, he was always favored to show up, but the implied probability of him returning for additional debates has soared from a 77.78% chance to a 93.75% likelihood!

Whatever concerns BetOnline’s oddsmakers had regarding Biden’s future availability are apparently assuaged.

That doesn’t happen with a debate stage triumph for Donald Trump. If Tuesday’s showing helped the incumbent’s standing in the race in any way, Democratic strategists would be searching for a way out.

That we don’t hear loud calls to cancel the remaining events – and political oddsmakers are suddenly so confident in Biden’s availability — means Trump did nothing but hurt his odds of winning November’s election.

At –1500, it’s not worth betting on Joe Biden to participate in the next debate. You have to risk $1,500 to win $100.

This wager is only worth making if you think there’s a chance still that the Democrats cancel.

A lot can happen between now and October 15.

At +600 odds, “No” is worth a long-shot flier.

Will Joe Biden Participate in Third Debate?

MyBookie Politics Prop

  • BetOdds
  • Yes -5000
  • No +900

My rationales for betting on the third debate are the same as for the second. Tuesday’s performance dramatically improved Joe Biden’s probability of completing the entire schedule.

However, that doesn’t make his participation in all three of them a sure thing.

The last debate is slated to take place just two weeks before Election Day. The Democratic challenger’s willingness to show up for one last dance will rely on a wide variety of factors.

  • How’s Biden polling in key battlegrounds?
  • What do the Democratic absentee voting numbers look like?
  • How did Trump behave in the second debate? Was he abrasive? Did he score points with voters on any topic?
  • How is Biden’s health?
  • How many undecided registered voters are there? Enough to make a difference in the election outcome?
  • Is there anything to gain from participating?
  • Could anything be lost by canceling?

While I’m feeling relatively confident in the second debate going on as planned, I don’t think the Biden campaign will see any reason to show up for a third. Especially not if the next head-to-head meeting is more-or-less the same as the first.

If the second showdown is equally obnoxious and lacking in substance, I suspect Joe Biden will refuse to debate Donald Trump anymore. He will point to the President’s lying and non-stop interruptions and explain to the public that there’s nothing to be gained from another meeting.

The electorate will probably agree. Because whatever that was on Tuesday night, the American people do not need any more of it.