The presidential debate and the ‘bully’ pulpit

The presidential debate and the ‘bully’ pulpit

While we are in the midst of a mild version of election fever here in British Columbia, you may not have noticed that there is also an election taking place just south of the border.

I kid. It’s pretty hard to not know about an election in which the combatants campaign for two full years. Give me a quick, six week snap election any day. Far less aggravating.

This past Tuesday evening the American Presidential debate was held, although ‘presidential’ would not be the word I would use to describe the behaviour of President Donald Trump. The main word that comes to mind is bully.

Trump did not respect the moderator, speaking over Chris Wallace from Fox News at will. He did not let his opponent Joe Biden get a word in.

In fact one pundit in the endless parade of opinion after the debate, said they felt sorry for Biden because it must have “been like trying to debate a crackhead”.

Of course the American media in their ongoing attempt to “both siderise” everything, tried to blame the debate rather than Trump. It was a bad ‘debate’, they said, as if Biden’s behaviour was as bad as Trump’s. Fact check: it wasn’t.

Some pundits say that it was always Trump’s plan to be aggressive, thinking that would appeal to a certain percentage of the population — make him look strong. If that was the plan, I believe he overplayed it. He didn’t come off as strong, he came off as bullying and unreasonable.

And post debate polls indicate that many Americans felt that way.

A new post-debate poll, from CNBC/Change Research, shows Biden opening up a 13 point lead, 54-41. Also according to that poll, people think Biden won the debate, 53 to 29.

Yet the media keeps trotting out these undecided voters. Who are they?

It’s pretty cut and dried. You either like Trump, and a solid 38 per cent of Americans do; or you cringe at the sight of him. If after four years of scandals, 200,000 plus people dead because of an inconsistent, or completely absent, plan on dealing with COVID-19, and the attempt to deligitamize the votes in the coming election, you still can’t decide whether to vote for him or not, I just don’t know what to say.

So after that terrible display on Tuesday, on Thursday I find that it is the 96th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter. Carter was a one-term president, and many say a failed one, but no one can argue that there has been a past president who has done more for humanity in the ensuing years than Carter. He founded Habitat for Humanity, building housing worldwide.

And he walks the walk every day, not just talks the talk.

Here is a quote from Jimmy Carter when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

“A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity.”

Those words couldn’t be more appropriate right now.

PS: Because a news cycle now lasts no longer than a nano-second, this column was written in the before times prior to the massive news on Friday that the President has COVID-19.

PSS: I got my mail in ballot on Thursday. Have you requested yours yet?