As it stands now, the next presidential debate this coming Thursday is not going to happen after President Trump said he wasn’t interested in a virtual debate. Of course, by the time what I’m writing goes into print, that stance may have changed six or seven times — by Tweet, I imagine.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Presidential Debates won’t allow a “solo debate” with just Joe Biden. I’m not exactly sure what a solo debate would entail, but then again solo synchronized swimming was once an Olympic event. Just as well, I guess, because Biden would likely lose his temper in a solo debate and perhaps even lose the debate itself.
A virtual debate definitely would be different. Trump wouldn’t be able to get in some of his deep, insightful debate zingers such as “I know you are but what am I,” “na-na na-na boo-boo” and the always golden, “yo mama.” And Biden wouldn’t be able to respond, “Shut up, man,” “C’mon, man” and “Dang, man.”
After the first presidential debate, I vowed I wouldn’t watch another one. I’d rather babysit 4-year-olds hyped up on candy corn and Peeps — both of which are absolutely delicious, by the way, and there’s no debating that. And if you have the gall to argue that, well, “Shut up, man.”
At least the vice-presidential debate sounded like a couple of grown-ups speaking — still trotting out overly rehearsed lines, tired political tropes and alternative facts — but at least they didn’t sound like ill-behaved children.
Still, what’s the point of even having a debate is in this era of perpetual partisanship. The Republicans who watched the VP debate thought Pence crushed it. The Democrats who watched it thought Harris mopped the floor with him. And the entomologists who watched it thought the fly won. As for the independents who watched it, well, there aren’t enough true independents left in the U.S. to form a solo synchronized swimming team.
America has changed since Lincoln debated Douglas, Kennedy battled Nixon, and Mondale asked “Where’s the beef?” We don’t have the attention span to hear issues discussed rationally. We think some tweets are just too long to read, and we can’t sit through 5 seconds of ads before a YouTube video. Americans may not be bright enough to truly contemplate political issues anyway. We’re talking about a country where the No. 1 show on TV has folks singing in crazy costumes like “The Whatchamacallit” and “The Thingamajig” and where Kanye West is considered a musician. And, yes, I watch “The Masked Singer.” I’m not above a little stupid fun myself now and then.
In fact, the only way presidential debates are going to be worth watching going forward is if we make them stupid fun, too.
Instead of interrupting each other, the candidates should have an array of rotten fruits that they can throw at each other when they disagree with a point.
Many have suggested that the debates instead be rounds of “Jeopardy” with categories such as “The Constitution,” “It’s The Economy, Stupid” and “Geography.” You know you want to hear someone buzz in and respond, “What is Thigh-Land? or “Where is Yo-Semite.”
I wouldn’t mind having trap doors that opened up and swallowed a candidate when they lied, but that show wouldn’t last two minutes.
If nothing else, at least mute the mics when it’s not a candidate’s time to speak — no more interruptions and no more moderators having to say things like, “Thank you, Mr. Vice President; thank you, Mr. Vice President; thank you, Mr. Vice President” when they exceed their time limits.
And, if nothing else, make sure each candidate has a fly-swatter.