Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Debate all crosstalk and confusion


     "Maybe 'debate' is not the word to use to describe tonight’s event," Princeton historian and CNN commentator Julian Zelizer tweeted a few hours before the brawl between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday. 
     Prescient. Although you didn't have to be Nostradamus to see that coming.
     Though "debate" might be the word for it. The first definition of "debate" in my Oxford English Dictionary is "To fight, contend, strive, quarrel, wrangle." 
     Sounds about right. The news networks certainly kept their questionable policy of treating the event like a boxing match.
     "A pretty well-matched fight," said CNN's Abby Phillip, ahead of time, introducing what she called "a slugfest."
     Though I wrote a column Tuesday morning, the paper asked if we could hold that so I could react to the debate. I was happy to be in the mix, but in doing so I had to whip together the following almost immediately. So if you're interested in what a column looks like written in 15 minutes, this is your chance. 
     In doing so, I saw how the national media tends to layer a kind of unfair balance over such situations. It's the default mode. The truth was that Trump's lying, bullying manner upended the civility required for real debate, and made it the stressful, unpleasant embarrassment it was.  But that takes five minutes' reflection, at least for me. The pros in immediacy were better at instantly nailing it.
    "That was a shit show," said CNN's Dana Bash, live on TV, and to illustrate just how true that assessment is, nobody seems shocked to hear her say it on air. Yes, yes it was. 
     I didn't quite come out and say that—I was too busy trying to get the words down in some kind of coherent order. I hope it comes through. Yes, good that Joe Biden stood up for democracy and handled himself admirably. Yet the affair leaves any thoughtful person not glad, but sad, and deeply concerned for our country. With two more shitshows left.

      “This is not going to end well,” President Donald Trump said toward the end of Tuesday night’s debate — or should that be “debate,” since it was more of an exercise in crosstalk and confusion, the first of three.
     He was referring to the election he insists will be “a disaster” with “30, 40%” of the mail-in ballots lost.
     But after 90 minutes of his free-for-all with former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump might be talking about the American experiment itself. It’s hard to have watched the mud wrestle in Cleveland and not come away with a certain despair for our country, based on the low state of anything resembling discussion of the issues.
     I suppose I should point to parts as significant.
     Once again, Trump was pressed to condemn white supremacy. And again, he did the opposite, telling violent groups such as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
     Stand by for what, he didn’t say. Dog-whistled orders, perhaps.

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12 comments:

  1. Chris Wallace was an abject failure!
    Now part of that failure was due to the incompetence & cowardice of the debate commission, which caved to drumpf's insistence on hot having a kill switch for the mics so that when one person was talking, usually Biden, drumpf wouldn't be able to bully him & interrupt him.
    But Wallace should've just gotten out of his chair, walked up onto the stage & told drumpf to shut the fuck up & let Biden speak!
    He should've told him, that's your only warning & if you don't obey that warning, the debate is over, you will be removed from the building & I will then have a nice & calm discussion with Joe Biden!

    Biden showed he isn't senile & that drumpf is a wretched bully.
    Last night solidified Biden's support & may have wrecked drumpf's. I'm sure he lost a lot of his female supporters with his disgusting & disgraceful performance.
    Too much Adderall?

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  2. They do need to have only one microphone hot at a time.

    I've felt that for quite a while as I watched many candidate debates, and last night was the strongest argument for it ever made.

    Debate commissioners, take control back and have the A1 leave only one mic open at a time. Or brace yourselves for another shit show.

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  3. IMO your analysis is spot-on except for one thing: I think you're being way too hard on Chris Wallace. He got Trump under control as well as he could; nothing short of tranquilizer darts would have stopped the interruptions. Clark St.'s fantasy is, well, a fantasy.

    The only time I thought Wallace slipped is when he asked Biden that dumb question about, why aren't you telling the mayor of Portland to call in the National Guard?

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    1. Joe gave both the right answer and the wrong answer. Right, because as he's not a government official who could tell the governor anything at all, and wrong because. as the Democratic nominee, he could easily tell the governor and the mayor that the months of rioting in Portland are hurting his cause, costing him votes and helping Sniffy's. That ought to count for something.

      Anyone who watched this circus from another country isn't laughing at us...they're pitying us. We have a POTUS who's a carnival geek. He's made me ashamed to be an American.

      Trump's refusal to condemn the fascist militias, and saying: "Stand back and stand by" was the worst disaster of the night. He's really saying: "I may need you boys to help me win. And if I lose, it means the election was stolen from me. So go get your guns and start killing Democrats." He just gave a whole lot of people a damn good reason to arm themselves: self-defense.

      It's highly possible that Trump is starting to realize that he has a good chance of losing, and he wants to take America down with him. Perhaps He's hoping to accomplish that end by encouraging white supremacists to bring about a Second Civil War.

      He's like Hitler in the bunker, when he said:

      "Everyone has lied to me, everyone has deceived me, no one has told me the truth. The armed forces have lied to me and now the SS have left me in the lurch. The German people has not fought heroically, it deserves to perish. It is not I who have lost the war, but the German people"...

      I'm praying that he goes quietly, after a landslide defeat. And then either leaves America forever...or gets dragged off to the slammer. Leaving us with his legacy: the Plague and a conservative Supreme Court. And hopefully, not blood, fire, death, and America's own version of "The Troubles"...

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  4. Thank you, everyone, for listening to the shitshow, so I didn't have to. If I were Biden, I would withdraw from the rest of the debates, which are a lousy way to gauge a politician's competence in any event and in this event extremely embarrassing for all participants..., except Trump of course, who is way beyond embarrassment.

    john

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  5. Wow, stop in the middle of incoherent rambling and insult the other guy’s kid. This was from our own grand wizard of nepotism, too.

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  6. I couldn't stand to watch more than 15 min. of this circus.

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  7. I don't know what could've conceivably prompted me to watch last night's debate. The classic Seinfeld exchange between the NBC executive and George comes to mind: "Well, why am I watching it?" "Because it's on TV!" Uh, that rationale didn't cut it. I don't watch pro wrestling, either.

    "He also claimed, ludicrously, that his medical advisers said, 'the masks are not good'." So many adjectives could have been used in that sentence. "Ludicrously" is certainly a fine choice. I'd also consider "criminally," given the effect on people's health that his making masks a political issue has engendered.

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    1. D'oh! Ludicrously and criminally are adverbs, not adjectives, of course. What good is spell-check without grammar-check, anyway? The shame of it all...

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  8. Was that the debate or did your colonoscopy get televised?

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  9. I agree with Alan. Change the rules: when one candidate speaks, kill the mic of the other. I think Biden would do along with that, and whiney little bitch Trump will wail "oh, it's not fair!!!!!!!!!!!". If Biden refuses to participate in the next 2 debates, he'll look like he's running scared. If the debate committee changes the rules, let Trump slink away like the rat he is. And that's an insult to rats.

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  10. I watched most of the first segment but I knew Biden was in trouble when Wallace explained the rules, a two minute statement each and then a free for all. He explained that both camps had agreed to the format. Monumental blunder by Team Biden. Trump would have been an asshole anyway, but the limited structure may have softened the blow. In the end Drumpf showed his true colors, no further evidence is necessary.

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