Ursula: Marybeth is a better citizen than I am
Yes, I totally agree, Marybeth; last night’s debate made me physically uncomfortable.
But, as much as I concur that it’s our duty to be as informed as possible about this upcoming election, I just could not watch it. The sound of arguing on TV makes my skin crawl. It’s why I can’t watch any of the evening pundits (the interviews are too contentious) or even any reality shows (too much talking over or past people).
Last night took the cake. From the outset, I could tell this would be almost two hours of listening to three voices, in heightened states of emotion, causing a catastrophic cacophony.
Maybe it’s old age or pregnancy-induced zero patience, but less than a minute into last night’s debate, I felt my jaw tighten and my blood pressure rise. I was out of there.
Good thing I had my homeschool lessons to prepare and lunches to make for the next day. In fact, I had to hum to myself in order to drown out the din – the trio of overlapping and tense voices of Biden, Ryan and Raddatz – which was like nails along a chalkboard to me.
I realize that much (most?) of America delights in contentiousness, judging by TV and cable ratings. I suppose one especially loves it if it’s your guy shouting down someone else. (It seems Obama’s co-campaign manager, the actress Eva Longoria, showed this quite clearly through a retweet last night – a kind of vile spiking of the football, if you will. )
But I can’t handle these kinds of battles anymore. Even if it was Ryan doing the smirking and mocking and interrupting, I’d be so filled with distaste I’d be likely to rethink my general positive feelings for the guy.
And this is the thing – I had actually hoped for something better. Naïve? Perhaps. But as someone who says dopey things all the time, I empathize with Joe Biden. I don’t blame him for his silly jokes – except for that ‘in chains’ thing, which I do think belies racial stereotyping.
Yeah, yeah, I suppose he should be held to a higher standard since he’s our VP, and I shouldn’t give him a pass for his buffoonery, but I’m just saying I wasn’t going into last night’s debate looking (or hoping) for Biden to be an idiot.
I did assume there’d be a basic level of sober civility, as this election’s themes seem to be about serious topics – unemployed and financially desperate Americans and troublesome and brutal rumblings in foreign lands.
But if Biden was truly not worried about the young’un Ryan, he’d let him talk and then patiently knock down each of his points. But this didn’t happen. Instead, it was, as Marybeth so accurately stated, physically painful to watch and listen to.
I used to be a sportswriter; I never could quite “get” certain elements of boxing, wrestling, or even the nasty hits in the beautiful sport of hockey. These seem to be the uncivil, unnecessary, and brutal underbellies of sports that could instead choose to highlight their more technical, skillful, and athletic themes.
Likewise, in debates, I prefer tactical victories, not pugilistic ones. So sue me.
*photo from USA Today &Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images