Political Theater

Tonight brings the first presidential debate. For political geeks it is one of the great events of the year. To heck with the baseball playoffs, this debate is where the entertainment is at. Well, I kid but it is one of the more highly anticipated events of the campaign season. So, I thought I would pull back the curtain a little and tell you what we might anticipate and what we should look for.

The key to a good post-debate drug test is to get a steady stream. They give you one cup and if they are conducting the test properly they have at least one person in the bathroom observing. It can be nerve racking peeing in front of a total stranger. You want to get a good amount in the cup, but you can’t make it overflow. It’s a delicate balance….of wait, we were supposed to be talking about the debate. I get confused sometimes.

It’s easy to get confused these days. I’ve never heard a presidential candidate demand a drug test before. Of course, there are a lot of firsts we have seen in the last two campaigns. I’m trying to figure out which drug would make a candidate sound more lucid. Maybe Ritalin in the right doses would work. I’m sure one candidate thinks there is something called “Smart Juice” that can be found on the open market. Maybe it’s just Fabulosa mixed with Tylenol.

In all seriousness, I think too many people see the debates the way he sees the debates. If you are expecting Joe Biden to out insult Donald Trump like two nine year olds on the playground then I can see why you’d automatically assume that Trump will trounce him in the debate. I have no doubt that he will sling a few Sleepy Joe lines in there and might even crack a joke about whether he should be in an old age home. Funny.

The key to paying attention to any good debate is seeing which candidate has better command of the issues. Sometimes it can be both. Sometimes it can be neither. Ever since Lloyd Benson busted out the “you are no Jack Kennedy” line we have been waiting around to see who can land the knock out punch. Debates are about jabs. How many can you land? How often can you demonstrate that you actually know what you are talking about? How many times do you utter something that makes you wonder what in the hell you’re smoking?

This is where I cannot possibly be objective. Am I worried about Biden? Sure, I worry about anyone that enters into a debate. Anyone can have an off night. Anyone can get flustered. They don’t have to be 77 years old to sound like they lost their fastball. Do I think Biden is going to come off sounding like a drooling invalid? No, this is a massive effort from the right to somehow distract you from what has been in front of your face for five years.

Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t have a handle on the issues. He’s never had a handle on the issues. In a stump speech he can speak in platitudes and rile up the folks with one liners like “lock her up” “build that wall” “keep America great again.” He doesn’t have the foggiest clue how to do it. If he did he would have already done it.

Debates are where you show at least some bonafides. No one should be worried about the plight of low flow toilets, or windmill cancer. This is the time when someone asks you about the nuclear triad that you come up with something a little more compelling then “I really nuclear, like the power is amazing, such amazing power, like my uncle used to always say…”

Yet, for some, that will be enough. It will be enough to throw a couple of insults Biden’s way and then they will laugh about how much the “libruls” were owned. The good news is that barring a drug testing accident, no one’s mind is really going to change. They could hold the election today and the results would largely be the same as they would be a month from now.

So watch tonight or don’t watch tonight. There will be one man on screen that speaks in complete sentences and answers questions with thoughtful responses. There will be another that acts like a fifth grader that never read “Where the Red Fern Grows” desperately trying to convince you he had. He’ll throw out insults, a few one liners, and a few dozen lies all in an effort to convince you that it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t know anything. If debates still matter, it certainly does matter that he doesn’t.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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