Septuagenarian shootout at the OK corral

By Arlene Violet
Posted 10/11/20

In the past when I wrote any column about a debate I would score the respective candidates on whom I thought won which points. Instead, I find myself wanting to send both candidates to the woodshed. …

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Septuagenarian shootout at the OK corral


In the past when I wrote any column about a debate I would score the respective candidates on whom I thought won which points. Instead, I find myself wanting to send both candidates to the woodshed. Former VP Joe Biden was intemperate when he twice called the President a clown and told him to “shut up, man,” but, if I am honest, I was shouting “shut up” in my head (which means I’d have to send myself to the wood shed, too). I was reminded of a quote of the late George Bernard Shaw that said, "I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and, besides, the pig likes it."
President Donald Trump couldn’t have been a worse representative of this country. He was a bloviating bully who repeatedly disrupted the debate with a deluge of lies, attacks, and obfuscations. Added to his performance was the braggadocio of credit for such things like his bringing back BIG TEN football. Somehow, the President feels that, if he yells loudly enough, it will make his falsehoods mutate into truth. His worst moment was when he reinforced racism by announcing, “Stand back, Stand by” to Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, rather than denounce its ideology and extreme-right brand of violence.

Without question, Mr. Trump was the chief disrupter of the public’s right to know the issues and positions of the presidential candidates. The Fix’s Aaron Blake counted an interruption every minute during the 98 minute time, with Mr. Trump responsible for 71 of them, Biden 21.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) which sponsors the debates thereafter announced that it would require “an additional structure to be added to the format of the remaining debates in order to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” As the CPD press release stated, the televised debates are for the benefit of the electorate. It noted that it was "grateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night debate". I, for one, having been on past panels which conducted debates for candidates was very sympathetic to Mr. Wallace of Fox News who was constantly throwing his body on the train tracks to stop the speeding locomotive.

President Donald Trump, no doubt, thinks that he gave his supporters the red meat they wanted. I hope that he is wrong. I’m not sure he’d even listen but I would hope that the folks who support him recognize that they are Americans first and ask him to stop the venomous attacks. Similarly, Democrats should remind Mr. Biden that epithets tossed at the President diminish the Presidency more than it does the present holder of that job. US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer added to the chorus by saying that Mr. Trump’s performance was one of "an idiot ,full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. He knows his Shakespeare as I know my George Bernard Shaw, so I suppose all of us should curb the slams and encourage an exchange of ideas worthy of its citizens.
So, I will try, too, to adhere to decorum and civility. I will end with a hope that the next debate will seem like an hour and one half rather than one-half of my lifetime.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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