[During this election cycle I’ve tried to avoid politics. It’s causing enough misery without my addition. (Though I occasionally “fall off the wagon”.) Perhaps this is one of those times. However, I post this in the interest of sparing folks of both sides he ensuing feeling of being both stupid and used.]
You might be thinking about watching tonight’s debates. I’d like to offer this helpful suggestion:
Spend time with your kids, work in your garden, read a book, even if you spend the night doing tequila shooters and playing solitaire virtually anything you do will be better than watching the debates. Do not allow yourself to be treated the way they will treat you as an audience member. You are grown men and women and deserve better.
Back in the long gone foreign nation of 1992 I watched my last presidential debate. I’m not a fool, I didn’t expect the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I was well aware that I was consuming a product steeped in bullshit. Even so, I hoped to glean some tiny understanding of the two nitwits who vied to run the government.
I can’t remember exactly when it happened or the exact phrasing but somewhere towards the end of the debate things went from bad to worse. Whatever airhead they had for moderator asked a question about “family”. It went something like this:
“Could you, Mr. Clinton, comment on the role of government in family?”
Bill nailed it! He turned his gaze slightly upwards, as if viewing an imaginary and gorgeous place. Somewhere far off and wonderful. The media did their part too, the camera angle changed. Suddenly we were looking from a lower vantage point upwards to our heroic father figure. He was looking at what must’ve been a studio ceiling but he made it look like he was gazing upon the face of God. He glanced left and then he glanced right. He did it just the way they teach you; so the spotlights catch your eyes and they twinkle. And it worked! His eyes twinkled like he was Santa Claus. Then he said something. After his warm up whatever he said didn’t matter but he nailed that too. It was something about how great family was. It talked about love, and joy, and the mutual bonds we all hold dear.
It was a fucking Hallmark moment. And I was repulsed.
Bush followed suit, doing his best to pantomime the same syrupy message. He didn’t pull off the twinkle but his words were roughly the same.
Thy had both done something abhorrent.
How dare they profane my family by presuming they’re a member!
The president, regardless of who is elected, is not part of my family! You don’t vote for family. The president doesn’t know me. The president is not invited to my house for Thanksgiving. The president is not allowed to borrow my car. The president will not feed my dog when I’m on a trip. The president wasn’t there for my childhood birthdays. The president wasn’t there when I graduated from school or got my first job. He didn’t laugh at my first hangover. He won’t bury my dog when it’s dead. The president does not change diapers, give hugs, congratulate you on your successes, sympathize for your losses, or in any way participate in your family. I will not sit by the side of the president’s bed weeping at the loss that breaks my heart as the president passes away. Nor will the president come to me and comfort me in my time of need.
It was contrived, it was sappy, it was dishonest, it was sleazy, and it was my fault. I hated myself for turning on the TV and I hated them for treating me like that. Even now, 24 years later, my anger over that moment burns.
That was the last presidential debate I ever watched. I will not be talked down to like that. I am a grown man and I know what family is and the president has no role.
Remember that. Whatever the Felon and the Hairball do on that screen tonight it isn’t about you. They don’t know you. They are not going to solve your problems. You cannot vote to be loved.
There is only one answer that would’ve worked in 1992 for that bullshit softball question. And there’s only one answer that is appropriate for the same bullshit softball questions as it is, in just a few hours, rehashed in 2016:
“The president is many things, but the president is not your family.”