Tag Archives: debate

Turn Down the Microphone

27 Sep

I was driving down Hamilton Avenue listening to NPR when I heard it, the thing I’d been anticipating since I woke up this morning: The Excuse. And it wasn’t The Excuse I had been mentally predicting since the middle of the debate last night, that Lester Holt had asked him unfair questions, although that was certainly on the list of ways that Donald Trump believed he was the victim of a biased moderator. (Never mind the fact that Lester Holt was simply fact checking Trump’s responses and trying to hold him accountable for any of the countless inflammatory and incorrect statements he has made through his campaign and before. His deep participation in the birther movement, comes to mind, but also the fact that Trump has not yet released his taxes – something that presidential candidates have done for decades.) The Excuse was actually much more absurd. On Fox & Friends this morning, the day after the debate in which, I would say, he got trounced, Trump complained that his microphone was defective, that it wasn’t as loud as Hillary Clinton’s.

o_O

Let us just reflect on this for a moment. Many of us watched the debate last night and I am going to go out on a limb and say that none of us had a hard time hearing Donald Trump. Did we have a hard time understanding him, what with his reliance on incomplete sentences and his incredible overuse of the word tremendous? Certainly. But could we hear him? Loud and clear. We heard his arrythmic breathing – he sniffled 37 times during the debate. We also heard him when he interrupted Clinton – 51 times by some estimates. We heard him when he said that not paying taxes makes him smart. And again we heard him when, in response to Clinton bringing up his long history of misogyny, he said that this well-documented history simply was not true. Except for in one particular instance.

“Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her.”

The supposedly justified “tough things” that he said? He called her a “loser,” a “fat pig,” a “mental midget, a low life,” a “degenerate” and a “slob.” She deserved all of these insults, though, because she had the gall to opine that his bankruptcy and extra-marital affair perhaps made him unfit to be a moral arbiter for a potentially wayward Miss USA. Rosie O’Donnell made that statement in 2006. And here we are, 10 years later, on the main stage of American politics, in a debate thats purpose is to help the American electorate decide who is best fit to have the fucking nuclear codes, and one of the candidates is so butthurt about a more-or-less harmless comment made by a daytime talkshow host that he brings it up. And, in an effort to not sound like the misogynist playground bully that he is, he blamed the victim.

But while Trump makes the rounds talking about how unfair everyone is in the face of his tremendous ability to make money and respect women, I just want to discuss one simple thing. I want to discuss the fact that last night myself and millions of other people tuned in to watch as one of the most qualified presidential candidates in history patiently waited her turn as an uninformed, unqualified man yelled over her time and time again. And that, friends, is what it is to be a woman. Hillary Clinton had so many opportunities to deliver the kill shot in last night’s debate. There was the issue of misogyny, the taxes, national security, among others but she resisted. She was measured and restrained. It was frustrating as hell but it was smart. It was the only way for her to play it. We live in a society that normalizes sexism. Where women make less than men for equal work, where we have to work harder and be more qualified, where a group of young female athletes win the Olympic gold medal in gymnastics and their excitement is likened to girls hanging out in a mall. We are underestimated and infantilized. And god forbid we succeed. Because success means giving up our only intrinsically valued trait: our femininity. But don’t get it twisted: that trait is valued in that it makes us controllable and unthreatening. And even when we reach the pinnacle of success, when one of us is at the brink of becoming the first female president of the United States of America, still she must demure. Still she must wait while her opponent rattles off a series of untruths, knowing full well that if the roles were reversed, if he was the prepared policy wonk and she the temperamental dunce, she never would have gotten this far. She never would have gotten anywhere. She would have been thrown into the pit along with Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina and Michelle Bachman, resurrected only when her specific brand of stylized politics and nifty glasses were deemed useful to the man she was helping to support. Hilary is smart. She knows what world she lives in.

And now today we have to listen to Trump talk about how his mic was bad. And how that was probably intentional. But how he won anyway. And we have to listen to political commentators say that he came ahead in the first 25 minutes despite the fact that he barely said anything and that what he did say was sprinkled with questionable grammar and overused qualifiers. And we have to remember that she stood there, calmly, hoping that he would self-destruct on his own because it would be unladylike for her to take him down, and being ladylike still matters. Playing by the biased rules of the game has gotten her this far and she is too close, too goddamn close, to let it all go.

So I guess what I am saying is just remember this moment. Remember this moment when the most qualified went up against the biggest blowhard and she had to play it cool in the face of his mansplaining, his insults, and his inaccuracies. Because that is what we as women do. That is what we do every single fucking day. And I honestly hope that if Hillary wins, no, when Hillary wins, that younger generations will see a woman as the leader of the free world and realize that women, all women, regardless of their religion, color, class, job, sexual orientation, physical abilities or whatever else, deserve the same respect, the same opportunities, as men. Because what Hillary endured last night was absurd. It was the patriarchy rearing its ugly head. And mark my word it will continue to do so throughout the next 6 weeks up until election day, there is no getting around it. It’s the patriarchy that makes Trump a viable candidate, and the patriarchy that makes Hillary not a shoe in.

So, no, your mic was working. It’s your privilege that needs to be checked.

 

 

Some (belated) Thoughts on the Debate and Politics

9 Oct

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction this country is going since the (embarrassing) debate last Wednesday night.  As I sat on my sofa, watching these two men vying for a job as President of the United States of America my stomach dropped.  To be entirely honest, the feeling in the pit of my stomach actually kept me from sitting through the entire debate and the residual discomfort will, very likely, keep me from watching any of the other three.  Maybe this feeling will pass and I will give it another go but I doubt it.  Anyway, here are some thoughts.

I am someone who believes in government, who believes that it is important for there to be some sort of check to business expansion, that there should be services provided for people who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide those services for themselves.  Yes, politics can be dirty.  Yes, politicians can be corrupt.  But I am entirely unwilling to write this entire system we have built off and characterize everyone that makes up our government, and the government of other countries, as clowns.  Perhaps I am idealistic but I do not see a better outcome if we scratch the whole thing.  I think the system needs changing, the rules of the game need changing, and the behavior of our politicians  need changing.  All this was very clear by the disaster that was the first debate of this election season.  But I do think the system can still work and, a lot of times, actually does.  I think the system relies a lot on those of us who spend the time reading and learning and take the time to speak out against things, or in support of things, and go out and vote.  Just vote.  As a good friend of mine said the other day, write someone into the ballot if you have to.  Make a statement.  Let people know what we have, the options we have, does not work for you.  That is how change starts.

But I am off track.  Back to some thoughts.

Thought #1.  How can two candidates spend the amount of time they spent talking about healthcare and never, not once, mention that women pay more than men do for healthcare across the board?  Our rates are higher.  We, ladies, are pre-existing conditions.  ObamaCare actually addresses this issue.  Obama never mentioned it.  Romney certainly was not going to given his new found distaste for women thanks to Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan, et al.  So, Obama, let me say this to you:  think about us, like, really.  You did a great thing with ObamaCare.  You included us in there.  Flaunt it!  Women are watching, we are listening, and we care about more than just jobs and education and tax rates.  (Don’t get me wrong, we care about those things, too.)  We are smart, we educate ourselves, we know what makes us better off.  We vote.  God damnit, we matter!  We matter a lot.  We fight an uphill battle every day against things we might not even be able to articulate.  We are so immersed in a world in which we are undervalued, in which we are considered less than, that it makes a difference when a policy is written that actually takes us into consideration.  You did a good thing, Mr. President.  Own it.  Show that you care about women and that Romney and Ryan still think that our internal organs and lady brains somehow make us enigmas.

Thought #2.  Clean coal.  I’m sorry.  Really?  Clean coal?  There is nothing clean about coal, really.  And if you gut the EPA, as the plan is, then there is absolutely no incentive whatsoever for industry to try and make coal cleaner.  Here’s the thing about business.  Business wants to be efficient, and business wants to make money.  Profits.  Period.  Business doesn’t wake up one day and say “oh, hey, I feel like doing a good deed, let me go ahead and spend millions and millions of dollars to lower my carbon footprint.”  No.  If there are no regulations, business has no reason to clean up.  And who can blame business for that?  But guess what?  A few decades down the line when the earth is even more polluted than it is today, when polar bears don’t even have small bits of ice to depressingly float around on in all of those gloom and doom NatGeo specials, and most of the energy sources we rely on in the good old US of A are depleted, a lot of other countries will have come up with other ideas.  And they will have businesses that work on them.  And those businesses will be making money.  And we will have no EPA and water that catches on fire when you bring a match close to it.  Clean coal my ass.  That ship has sailed.  Actually, no, that ship tried sailing and instead sunk.

Thought #3.  Shut up about PBS.

Thought #4.  I think manners are really important.  One of the things that always gets me into hot water at the bar in which I work is that I really believe people should have manners and should respect those around them.  I consider this a high expectation when copious amounts of alcohol and late nights are involved.  I am going to go out on a limb and assume that there was no alcohol involved in the poor performance delivered by both the President and Mitt Romney.  It would be inappropriate and, besides, Romney is a Mormon.  Anyway, the smug looks they both delivered have got to go.  And the interrupting.  I’m pretty sure I learned to let people have their turn to speak in kindergarten.  Or!  Maybe we should institute a talking stick at debates.  Could you imagine?  It would go like this:

Obama:  So, if you look at Romney’s plan, he wants to cut 5 trillion dollars from blah blah blah blah

Romney:  That!  That is not true!  That is not in my plan!

Jim Lehrer:  Now, Mitt, do you have the talking stick?

Romney:  (looking down at his very empty hands) No…but..he started this round and…

Lehrer:  No talking stick, no talking.

Now that’s a debate I could get behind.

More thoughts undoubtedly to come.  But for now, dinner.