Saturday, October 03, 2020

What Happened?

 Richard Nixon lost the debate to John F. Kennedy because of flop sweat. That's what the legend says, anyway. 

In reporting the Lincoln-Douglas debates, newspapers that leaned toward Douglas refined their candidate's language and left Abe looking like bumpkin, while the pro-Lincoln camp did just the opposite for their cause. 

The winner of Tuesday night's presidential debate was anyone watching reruns of Parks and Recreation instead. 

I consider myself a survivor of Tuesday night's presidential debate. I dutifully sat down with my family to take in all the spectacle and drama. I made dinner for us all to consume in front of the television. Before the big show began, I asked my wife why we were watching. I didn't guess that I needed to be convinced or cajoled in any particular way or another. If I had my ballot in front of me, I would have filled it out in full and moved on to something more thought-provoking like level six hundred forty-three of the Candy Crush saga. 

It didn't take long for all of my concerns to be confirmed. It was a mess. It was spittle-flying rants talking over the moderator bleating of unsubstantiated rumors and lies. And Joe Biden was there too. 

Fifty-five minutes in, I cleared the table and went to the kitchen with the dishes. My wife had begun to retreat into her laptop, looking for solace in facts that were missing from the night's  proceedings. Only my son remained fully engaged in the atrocity being committed on national television. He leaned into it, hooting in disbelief. I could hear his despair as I rinsed plates in the sink. But I didn't rush to comfort him. His nascent political beliefs were being twisted and torn before his very eyes. It was only a few months ago that he had pitched his tent in Beto O'Rourke's camp.

And this is where he landed. In his parents' living room without hope for reason or rhyme. Just the vast sucking sound coming from a stage somewhere in Ohio. 

When I finished cleaning up the kitchen, I walked back through the living room, past the couch where my son sat fuming. I tried to find words of encouragement, but came up short. I went on into the office where I put on headphones and fired up Candy Crush, level six hundred forty-four. 

One month until Election Day. 

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