Days to election: 34
THE DEBATE WAS AWFUL.
AND A REAL SUCCESS
“A train-wreck, Phoebe?” Mr. O said. “A disgrace? As one commentator put it, a shitstorm? A mess?”
“Plain and simple,” I said, “it was a success, maybe the best in the history of debates.”
“Are you out of your mind?” shouted Mr. O, who’s as low-key and reserved an opossum as you could hope to find in your backyard.
“Donald Trump showed up last night as a goon, a schoolyard bully, a predator, an abuser, a spoiler and a virtual psychopath,” Mr. O said.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself,” I said.
“But he absolutely wrecked the debate,” Mr. O said. “People who watched it said they felt sick; they said they were demeaned; some people couldn’t watch the whole thing and turned off their TVs.”
“That's what happened,” I said.
“Well, Phoebe, how is that successful debate?” Mr. O shot back. “And look what happened to Joe Biden, Trump’s election opponent, and Chris Wallace, the debate moderator. They were reduced to supporting roles, playing the parts of offended, but ineffectual victims of Trump’s boorishness.”
“You got that right,” I said.
“Because that’s what a debate is supposed to do,” I said. “It’s supposed to give voters a crystal clear picture of the choice they have to make.”
“But nobody watching that show could tell what anyone was saying because of all the shouting, overtaking, and just plain meanness,” he said. “No exchange of ideas, no policy explanations.
“Which means the debate perfectly reflected the America we’re living in right now,” I said. “Donald Trump’s America.”
“But it was supposed to be a DEBATE,” Mr. O said.
“If it had been an orderly conversation," I said, "where the candidates delivered their rehearsed lines according to script, and everyone shook hands, patted each other on the back and left feeling pretty good about themselves and their country, that debate would have been a failure, a fraud.”
“Maybe I see what you’re getting at,” Mr. O said.
“The comparison between Trump and Biden was absolutely stark,” I said. “On one side, you had an unprincipled, destructive gangster; a racist; a provocateur, thriving on chaos and lawlessness.
"On the other hand, there was a seasoned, proven and decent man; he was imperfect, of course, but also just the sort of person you'd want in the Oval Office, working to solve the country’s difficult problems.”
“His role in the debate was probably the most crucial of all,” I said. “He showed that with Trump in the White House, none of the usual checks-and-balances are working. Congress and the courts can’t control him, any more than Chris Wallace could keep Trump from being a debate barbarian and a spoiler last night.”
“These are hard times," I said. "Trump is dangerous, destructive and incompetent. Biden is not charismatic, not always well spoken, not young. But he’s capable, decent, and last night, he held his own against one of the most dangerous persons in the world.”
“So, are you looking forward to the next debate?” Mr. O asked. “Some people today are suggesting there shouldn’t be any more.”
“Of course I’m not looking forward to any more debates,” I said to the opossum. “But I’m not looking forward to four more years of Donald Trump either. The first four have been bad enough. They’ve been terrible. Terrible for democracy. Terrible for the climate. Terrible for the economy. And terrible for our health.”
“So, you’re saying that upsetting as they might be, the next debates should go on as scheduled,” he said.
“It’s the reality we’re living through,” I said.
“Kind of ironic,” Mr. O said. “Trump got elected in part because he gained fame as a fake businessman on 'reality TV.' And last night, America got a chance to see the actual Donald Trump on real TV.”
“You’ve got the picture,” I said.