I don’t blame moderator Chris Wallace, as some do, for Tuesday night’s disastrous presidential debate.
Wallace never stood a chance at reining in President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden in their first face-to-face encounter on national TV.
Wallace did not have the enforcement tools needed to keep the candidates on track, particularly President Trump.
As a result, the event was far from edifying; it was a national embarrassment.
A CBS News poll found that over 70 percent of viewers found it “annoying.”
My informal poll found that over 70 percent of viewers found it “like having a lobotomy.”
A debate that was hard to watch
The debate was painful for me to watch. Trump’s strategy was to bring the chaos, as it so often is. He interrupted Biden over 70 times, according to CBS News.
The circus will travel to Miami on Oct. 15 and then on to Nashville on Oct. 22.
In light of the first debacle, let’s make sure no children are watching next time. It’s not good for them to see a president who can’t condemn “white supremacy.”
To me, the solution is to give moderators more power and control. They need, as Harry Truman would say, a “big stick.”
What I’m proposing —– and I hope the Commission on Presidential Debates is listening — is that all future moderators have the ability to mute the microphone of a candidate who can’t keep quiet or follow agreed-upon rules.
This seems far less costly than, say, having a candidate stand on an ejection platform.
We need chief justice, with a paddle, no more name-calling
Also, in my view, the chief justice of the Supreme Court should be required to attend all presidential debates.
If any candidate decides to further disrupt proceedings by arguing with the agreed-upon moderator, then that moderator should have full authority to call upon Chief Justice John Roberts to spank such candidate, regardless of age or party.
(A female justice would be called upon to spank a female candidate.)
Of course, both campaigns would have to work out the details of said spanking in light of social distancing. A kayak paddle might be needed.
Let’s also put an end to the use of the split-screen TV shot where one candidate is using his or her allotted period of “uninterrupted” speech while the other is rolling his eyes, guffawing or fake vomiting.
Maybe Trump’s badgering and interruptions worked because, at times, Biden seemed to fumble for numbers to back up statements on, for instance, the economy.
But that fumbling, at least to me, seemed to show a concern over getting his facts straight. The president, on the other hand, never fumbles when it comes to numbers.
Biden also called the president a “clown.”
From here on, let’s put an end to the name-calling.
The News-Leader has a half-page list of words that will get flagged if readers use them on our Facebook page — perhaps in response to this column.
I needed my young colleagues to explain what half of these words meant; I was unaware there was such a vast array of sexual practices.
I even blushed.
I think, sadly, we’ve come to the point where the Commission on Presidential Debates should draft a list of banned words for upcoming debates — starting with “clown.”
I can think of a few more like “idiot,” “moron,” “pollpounder,” “chadyanker.”
I offer these suggestions in the hope we can prevent further electoral dysfunction.
These are the views of News-Leader columnist Steve Pokin, who has been at the paper eight years, and over his career has covered everything from courts and cops to features and fitness. He can be reached at 417-836-1253, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 Boonville, Springfield, MO 65806.
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