“Shut up, man.” “This guy is a clown.” “This guy is not smart.”
If that sounds like a scripted scene from Saturday Night Live, then you must have been visiting the space station last week during the presidential debate.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the need to cancel debates. But apparently no one was reading or heeding my advice. Just as I predicted, it was a circus. If I had bought a ticket, I would demand a refund.
It was like an episode of Real Housewives gone wild, only with old men creating drama. Name-calling, insults, accusations, family bashing and more.
The behavior displayed by these two men who have been chosen to represent the two political parties in this country was unprofessional and abhorrent.
If you are one of those people claiming your guy won, then we were watching different channels. They both acted like losers and brought us along for the ride through crazy town.
Neither candidate has an excuse for their behavior. There was not a hint of leadership to be found in the room. Contempt for each other, oversized egos and childish behavior left the American people feeling helpless to make sense of the nonsensical.
Biden looked and acted vulnerable because he is not a strong debater even after decades of political experience. He did not have real answers to questions that did get asked. He continually dismissed his rival as “a clown, a liar and America’s worst president.” At one point he even told Trump to “shut up, man.”
President Trump either could not or would not stay focused on Biden’s actual position on issues. He continually argued with Chris Wallace as he tried to take control of the narrative by interrupting and interjection his views while Biden tried to speak. If he had let the man finish a sentence, he might have found a way to highlight the difference in platforms.
Anyone who expected a civil discussion about the pandemic, the economy or civil unrest in our country was just fooling themselves.
There was no discussion of issues that affect us Americans. Their actions clearly reflect their attitude and lack of concern for us. Respect and reverence for America’s people was nonexistent.
We have learned not to expect much from our politicians, so we should not be surprised.
This political sideshow did not go unnoticed around the world either.
The Guardian in UK called it a “national humiliation” for us. Israel’s leading tv anchor tweeted, “condolences to America”, writing, “it is hard to stoop lower than this.” One Chinese writer said, “I would feel desperate if I was an American.” A Russian tv announcer said, “the candidates behaved like their voters-divided and inflamed.”
We were once one of the most respected countries in the world, but they made us look stupid. We are not.
Their performance did not go unnoticed by Americans either. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree.
“I’ve seen horror movies that made me cringe less.”
“Twelve minutes in and I’m ready to hurl myself into the sun.”
“I was worried one of the people on stage might have a heart attack tonight, but now I’m only worried about myself.”
“My tv just shut itself off and jumped in the garbage can.”
“It’s like an old person and a drunk person fighting at Denny’s.”
There is an ongoing discussion about making changes for any future debates. The Commission on Presidential debates says it will implement “tools to maintain order”. One suggestion is to give the moderators control over the microphone so they can mute one candidate while the other is speaking.
President Trump and his re-election campaign have said they would not sign off on any rule changes for the remaining debates. Yeah, we know.
We require school children to exercise self-discipline. It is a sad day when children have better manners than the candidates for the highest office.
We can only hope the commission makes changes.
Maybe we could have a time-out room. If a candidate will not play by the rules, he loses his turn and must sit in the corner.
Better yet, we could replace the moderator with a mom. Moms know how to teach kids to take turns. They teach children that interrupting someone when they are speaking is rude and bad behavior is not rewarded. They also know that consistent consequences for bad behavior gets results.
Elected officials have a responsibility to set the tone for productive discussions about issues that affect us. Going off the rails like unsupervised children is not fulfilling that obligation.
Unfortunately, there are still plans to go ahead with the other two debates and that is very disappointing news.
Most of us just want them both to shut up.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.