The Most Distracting Part Of The 2024 Debate Wasn't What Anyone Said

Donald Trump and Joe Biden's policies are what will ultimately impact the everyday lives of the millions of Americans who will vote for them in the 2024 presidential election, but who are we kidding? After Trump took a seat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and popped open a Diet Coke, politics would never be the same. Now, more than ever, optics seem to matter, perhaps because a reality show star once held the highest office in the land. So, many debate viewers might have been more focused on what Trump and Biden were doing with their mouths during the debate than on the words coming out of them.

In 2020, a body language expert told Nicki Swift that Biden appeared ready to fight during the first presidential debate that year. He had to be prepared to counter-punch at the time because there was always the possibility that Trump would steamroll him with a nonstop stream of interruptions. This was not a concern in 2024, as both he and Biden had their mics cut off when it wasn't their turn to answer questions from CNN's debate moderators. However, Trump found a way to draw the eye of viewers at home while his opponent was speaking. Instead of moving his lips, Trump shaped them into a Grinchian grin — he seemed to be conveying the message, "Can you believe what this guy is saying?" As for Biden, his reaction to Trump talking left some viewers dismayed.

Joe Biden's open mouth was not a good look

When it was Donald Trump's turn to speak, Joe Biden's mouth would often drop open and stay that way, as if in disbelief over his opponent's words. It's what he was doing when Trump said, "I've never seen anybody lie like this guy," Meanwhile, users on X, formerly known as Twitter, were furious that the debate moderators didn't push back when Trump told a falsehood. But again, what a lot of people were concerned about was optics, and the open-mouth look was doing Biden no favors. "The mouth opening stares at Trump made him look confused. It was not good," one person tweeted. Others pointed to it as evidence supporting the conspiracy theory that Biden would take some sort of performance-enhancing drug ahead of the debate — Trump had promoted it himself by calling for Biden to be drug-tested before their showdown. "Biden definitely seemed like he was on something. He couldn't even keep his mouth closed," one person wrote.

However, it's possible that Biden was having a hard time keeping his mouth closed, not out of utter shock at Trump's words or because he was experiencing the side effects of a drug, but because he was simply trying to breathe.

Joe Biden was sick during the debate

Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the first 2020 presidential debate, and it turns out that Joe Biden was also sick when he faced off against Trump during their lead-off 2024 debate. A source told The Hill that Biden was suffering from a cold, which could explain why he sounded so hoarse. It may also be the reason why he couldn't keep his lips together when it was Trump's turn to talk — as anyone who has been sick with a cold is aware, it's hard to avoid going all slack-jawed when you're all congested and can't breathe through your nose. So, if Biden did take any drugs before the debate, they were likely of the over-the-counter variety.

But the best relief Biden could get probably came after the debate when he looked at the reactions to his performance and sighed so hard that it cleared his sinuses. "It kills me to say this, but Trump has just won the 2024 election. Biden appears frail (in voice, body, and mind)," one person wrote. "OMG Biden is sick and sounds awful. The election may be over," read another tweet. With Trump toying with the idea of a dictatorship, how sad will it be if democracy dies not with a bang but with a bunch of sniffles?