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The Night The Wheels Came Off

I must admit that I don’t stay up late anymore watching TV. I made an exception to that rule last Tuesday night and watched all 90 minutes of the Presidential debate.

It was a sad spectacle, really. It was neither a debate nor Presidential. It was an attack dog event put on by an unsmiling President Trump which made him look more like a distorted media reality star than the leader of our country. There wasn’t even the pretense of a debate in terms of a civil discussion on the issues of government and programs for the future.

Being caught up in such a storm, I felt that former Vice President Biden held his own as best you can when a 90-minute verbal hurricane descends upon you. I was most sorry for Chris Wallace, the Fox News commentator who was trying to moderate the “debate.”

On several occasions, when Wallace tried to move on to another question, he was shouted down by Mr. Trump. He tried to quiet the President when he was interrupting Mr. Biden–no success. At one point, he even gave Biden an extra 30 seconds of time because he had been interrupted and “talked over” by Trump.

It was all in vain. Listeners looking for answers ranging from health care to the economy were treated to bombast, boasts and bullying. It was an ugly, forgettable 90 minutes and makes one wonder of the public benefit of such an event.

A conservative commentator on one of the networks after the “show” was over, was flummoxed over how future debates could continue when the President goes on a tirade and won’t let his opponent speak. He suggested that perhaps the only solution would be to have a time-keeper control the microphones of both participants and then turn the mike off after an allotted time has expired.

I was around in 1960 for the first televised Presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. It was civil. It was informative. It was “Presidential.” It reflected a cross section of the concerns the country was then facing. Last Tuesday’s performance was none of this.

In my judgment, its only saving grace is that now we know what to expect from Donald Trump if he is elected again–more of the same. He cannot stand criticism and is not interested in input if it disagrees with his own views. I thought, as I watched the show — it is no wonder that so many qualified people have left the White House during his Presidency. Unless you are a total “Yes Man,” he is not interested in your views.

There was one other revelation at the end of the program. When both candidates were asked by Wallace whether they would accept the certified results of the election, Biden said “Yes, and so will he” — referring to Trump. Trump dodged the issue and went into a diatribe about unfounded voter fraud using the mails — though he, himself, has regularly used the mail to vote.

For Trump, when you are behind in the polls, you attack not only your opponent but the electoral process itself. Hopefully, the public will not be scared off from voting. State and local election officials know how to run free and fair elections, and they will do it again.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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