Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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We Are Pissed: The Last Presidential Debate

Better Late than Never: Our Take on the Last Presidential Debate

I’m pissed off! In fact, I’m so pissed off about the last presidential debate that it’s taken me a couple of days to bring myself to write about it. To be honest, the only reason I’m even bothering to write about what was so clearly a tremendously disappointing debate is that there are some important moments that occurred that aren’t receiving the attention they should.

I’m certainly not going to waste your time with a blow-by-blow roundup of talking points about the last presidential debate. But, I will give you all of the low lights that made my investment in the evening’s cocktails worth while.

The Mute Button Bait-and-Switch

I, like so many of my peers, am especially pissed off at the publicity stunt that was the so-called mute button. I think it’s safe to say that many of us wouldn’t have bothered tuning into the last presidential debate if we hadn’t been promised the opportunity to see someone (a woman!) shut trump up. Most of us have already decided who to vote for…and undecided voters are…well, just a special kind of shitty person in my book. While trump was definitely on a short leash, and managed to reign in his incoherent rants and interruptions, I found myself shouting, “Mute him” at the television multiple times. Judging by my social media feed, I wasn’t alone in my frustration. So, the biggest lowlight for me? The mute button bait-and-switch. Apparently no one in politics or the media that has the ovaries to shut trump up.

Kids in Cages

The American Civil Liberties Union told a judge last week that there were still 545 children separated from their parents from 2018. trump, staying true to form, couldn’t bring himself to show any regret or offer up anything that remotely sounded like an apology for the “zero tolerance” policy his administration used to separate children from their parents at the southwestern border. Instead he did what he always does and deflected and cast the blame on Obama and Biden.

“They built the cages! They built the cages,” trump sniveled over and over again. A deflection that is weak at best. To be clear, Lee Gelernt, the primary lawyer challenging the family separation policy has this to say about it: “The fact is no other administration, Democrat or Republican, has ever systematically separated children. The Trump administration’s actions to systematically separate children is unprecedented and what made that much more horrific is that there was no age limit. Even babies and toddlers were separated.”

The fact that this ever happened is revolting. And, the fact that trump is continually allowed to turn the conversation into a misleading dog and pony show is enraging. This would have been a great time for the moderator to have used that mute button.

The Backhanded, Misogynistic Compliment

One of the most disgusting, and most poorly covered moments, of the last presidential debate is when trump stopped in the middle of one of his long-winded rants about Biden and fracking to “compliment” moderator Kristen Welker. He said, “By the way so far I respect very much the way you’re handling this, I have to say,” before returning to his criticism of Biden.

As professional woman, this moment came across as condescending, belittling and especially misogynistic. There Welker was doing her job when this poor excuse for a man who had spent the prior week criticizing her–and just hours before the debate attacked Leslie Stahl, the anchor of CBS’s “60 Minutes,” and insisting that Welker “is far worse”–bestows what was clearly a predetermined and insincere compliment.

This moment was awkward at best, and for any professional woman watching, it surely conjured one of many similar sexist experiences in the workplace with male peers. Hey guys, we don’t need your patronizing compliments. We know we are good at our jobs. How about you just give us equal pay!

Trump Mocks Biden for Being Presidential

trump did what he does best during the debate: hurl unfounded accusations and lies. Biden also did what he does best: talk directly to the American people like a president should. Apparently trump doesn’t understand that his job is to serve the American people, which means he needs to communicate with us in a big boy way. How do I know he doesn’t understand this? He chose to mock Biden after Biden disengaged with him and spoke directly to the American people. trump seems to think it’s a politician-y thing to do. I suppose he is right. After all, the president of the United States is technically a politician. And Biden most certainly came across as presidential at that moment…which trump has literally never done in his entire life.

trump’s Demeanor

What irks me the most about the last debate is that trump supporters actually think trump did well because he was able to let someone else talk without talking over them and bullying them. How the hell has that become the high bar for him? His appearance and demeanor for the entire debate was that of a preschooler sat in the corner for his misbehavior. He was red-faced and pouty and and kept a nasty smirk on all night. And the only reason he didn’t talk over his opponent for the entirety of the debate is because he didn’t want to be the one cut off by the mute button. If you are truly impressed with trump’s debate performance, you are part of the problem we are having in the hot mess that is the U.S.

Final thoughts

Post debate, an acquaintance who is conservative reached out to me to ask my thoughts on the last debate. He said, “My opinion that neither can run the the country.”

My response was this: There’s zero reason to believe that Biden can’t run the country, and the majority of decent Republicans agree. He has the experience. He has a plan. And he hasn’t raped or sexually assaulted women and young girls like his opponent has. (Not to mention the long list of white collar criminal acts that trump has committed).

I think when Republicans say that they think Biden can’t run the country, they are grasping at straws, not looking at what is good for America and instead holding on to an “us and them” state of mind. America is humiliated in the world’s eye right now. We are globally hated and internally divided. That happened on the republican ticket. And now is the time to fix it.

Vote. And when I say, “vote,” I mean vote for Biden and Harris.

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.
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