Media Beat: October 1, 2020
Never underestimate a sore loser
Tuesday night’s televised scrum pitted the incumbent bully against the lightweight contender. Trump, dressed in red, white and blue, scowled, barked, bullied and heaped contempt on his adversary whose own sartorial style was better suited to a funeral than a shoot-out at the OK Corral. With Trump figuratively circling his prey in the ring, Biden’s best counter-punch was to look exasperated.
Having the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, the US mail service and every gun-toting Dixie in his pocket, the Teflon president cut down his adversary like any bully will when faced with a wimp. You bust his balls and laugh in his face. In short, make him irrelevant.
The deniers will say that Biden put up a good fight and scored points with the electorate, but the electorate is so knotted with fake news that unless some cataclysmic event takes place, Trump can still steal the election.
Knowing in advance that the Tuesday debate was going to be a fist fight, it made sense to level the playing field with a set of rules that prevented the show from being hijacked by its swaggering big top fighter.
But that didn't happen.
First off, moderator Chris Wallace was woefully ineffective as he continually let himself be pushed aside by Trump’s meandering invectives, and Wallace was also ineffectual in holding either contender to task in answering the questions that were put to them.
It's an age-old game: the interviewer asks the politician a question and then politely takes it on both cheeks as the defendant side-steps answering and instead spews pre-scripted blather that chews up airtime and makes a mockery of the debate. Avoid, duck and shovel gibberish that's dressed up to sound like policy where there is none.
It's called obfuscation.
These are not times when one expects engaging debate orated by civilized politicians. This is a high political drama that costs billions of dollars to stage. Civility is an anachronism in today's political war zone.
These highly choreographed dramas are relics from a bygone era and this showed in the first-round debate as these Party contenders were supposedly put up for scrutiny in the court of public opinion.
Wallace should have but didn't hold them accountable by making it clear from the outset that bullying and grand-standing would result in the mute button being pushed. He should also have been vested with the power to hit the mute button if they ducked questions with blather.
He didn't, perhaps because the rules tilt in favour of the contestants and this is what makes these charades more spectacle than informative.
Tough rules of gamesmanship need to be applied in this courtroom drama, and if the politicians can't live up to them then let it be said publicly and call a sham a sham.
Racism, the economy, the environment, health care, foreign diplomacy and democracy itself were and are big tent issues that need concise, coherent responses. Biden’s fallback on the environment with a plan that would “create millions of jobs” sounded as realistic as a pitch coming from some midway barker hawking the next best thing.
Trump’s over-bearing rhetoric was just that, but in this farcical television show, candour and common sense, civility and statesmanship were sullied and stomped on.
It was bad theatre dressed up as a must-see event.
The incumbent has promised to clear the swamp and make America great again. The contender is proffering hope, a kinder, gentler future and a plan to give Main Street America a voice on The Hill. Either or, the central issues are complex and are in dire need of fixes.
Trump is in the game to win. That's all he knows, and he loses his shirt if the outcome tilts any other way. Biden is in it because he's been anointed and he is still playing Mr. Nice Guy, maybe because that's all he knows - and he doesn't have the muscle to score a knockout.
The next round had better use the rules of boxing to control the BS and the questions had better be the kind that kicks a hornet’s nest to see what flies beyond a shitstorm of stupefying bullshit.
Mainstream media need to stop playing by a rulebook that plays nice to politicians that don't play nice, hide behind pretence and have every advantage to cast influence over voters that have little to no voice in a game of cards stacked in The House's favour.
And anyone who thinks for a moment that the election is won doesn't understand American politics, or America's deep-rooted respect for a strong man. There's also a vein of thought that Trumpites are more numerous than polls indicate, and then there's the fact that Fortune 500 compaies have benefited enormously from the deregulation, isolationism and generous tax benefits that Team Trump has heaped on them.
Trump's failure to pay his fare share of taxes made ominous headlines, but for many his ability to beat the system is seen as the mark of a good businessman.
Thirty days in politics leaves POTUS a lot of time to swing his bat.
What we see and hear in mainstream media doesn't capture the simmering rage that fuels conspiracists and private militias in America today. The outcome of this election is anything but a slam dunk. As the headline says, 'never underestimate a sore loser'. He's weathered storms before and survived quite nicely. Had the Democrats elected a leader who was younger, more charismatic and visionary the game would be set. For now, however, it is in a state of flux.
At least, that's my take.. – David Farrell