While George Washington’s profile is flipping through the air on a coin, do you imagine him mentally preparing for the painful, 50-percent-chance outcome that he could land face-down onto the back of someone’s hand — a sting that’d hurt worse than hitting water the wrong way? Do you imagine him holding his breath, releasing a sigh of relief when he finds himself face-up, or worrying instead about latent damage the fall may have done to his head? I wonder what he would think about the vast difference between his America and ours. Would he be proud? Cringe? Wish he could phone a friend? Or would he ask himself the very same question I did: In the year 2016, have we still not advanced pass the coin toss? This second presidential debate isn’t some high school sporting event, for god’s sake.
…Or is it?
1. Say what you will about their sportsmanship, for two team captains who hate each other, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s opening nod was a remarkably elegant way to bypass an awkward handshake. A safe play on both their ends. Had one person extended a palm and the other rejected it, the gifs would have been ruthless.
2. Heads: Hillary. A woman from the audience who may be a teacher said that the last debate was better suited for a “mature” audience. She wanted to know if the candidates felt they were positive role models to children. Hillary said yes and brought her reasons for that yes back to her slogan, “stronger together”:
“If we overcome the divisiveness that sometimes sets Americans against one another and instead make big goals — and I’ve set forth some big goals: getting the economy to work for everyone, not just those at the top. Making sure we have the best education system from preschool to college and making it affordable and so much else. If we set those goals and go together to try to achieve them, there’s nothing, in my opinion, that America can’t do.” Hard to refute.
3. In fact, Donald Trump agrees! My head is cocked. What is his angle? He is very calm. What if he’s about to tell us that he quits?
But that wasn’t the question the first Uncommitted Voter asked, was it? Anderson Cooper, determined to take charge of the classroom from the start, reminds Donald Trump, “You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women.”
4. Trump replies to Anderson Cooper that he doesn’t get it. That was “locker-room” talk. He’s sorry, but boys will be boys. Then he wrung a wet towel and snapped it at some nerd’s scrawny ass.
5. The insults begin. If someone told me that “debate” meant a volleyball game of insults rather than an opportunity to learn more about the candidates’ stances on policies I care about and those with which I am less familiar, I would have worn spandex, I would have brought a red Gatorade, and I would have smeared my face with war paint.
6. I cannot help but recall two constantly repeated words from a class I took in high school on World War II: hubris and propaganda. Suddenly distracted from the debate, I instead wait for The New York Times‘ fact-check updates. Is it even responsible to watch this game without it?
7. Bill Clinton is not running for president. This is a reminder to myself while waiting for the debate to end so that I can do a deep dive of research into the claims made later.
8. While fact checkers are busy going over all statements made tonight by the candidates, allow me to Google-translate Trump’s use of “ISIS”: “Hey, look over there!”
Used in a sentence:
Anderson Cooper: “For the record, are you saying, what you said on the bus 11 years ago, that you did not kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?”
Donald Trump: “ISIS.”
9. Just as you cannot pull out a piece of gum for you and your best friend without the teacher telling you to either spit it out or share with the whole class, you cannot apologize to the one group you most recently were caught offending and not apologize to the entire country. (Slash world.)
10. How many people just pictured Tina Fey asking a room of young women sitting on bleachers to close their eyes and raise their hand if they felt personally victimized?
11. How many of you found yourself doing that very exercise, then opened your eyes and saw that your arm was raised?
12. Who was…not surprised that Hillary Clinton may have acted differently in private than she preaches in politics toward big banks? (Who is conflicted as to whether or not they think that is okay? Or is this a distraction from much larger issues, perhaps in relation to both parties?)
13. Who was surprised that Abraham Lincoln came into the conversation?
…Penny for your thoughts?
14. Do you think George Washington the quarter is like, “Dude, thank god you’re here, even metaphorically. This is a mess.”
15. For the first time ever (I am 28) I think I finally understand the entire Affordable Care Act. Hillary explained it really well, and agree with it or not, she brought up some strong points. Including the scary truth, “…but if we repeal it and start over again, all of those benefits I just mentioned are lost to everybody.”
16. Say “fact checking” five times fast.
17. Uncommitted voter: “There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States and I’m one of them. You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being a threat to the country after the election is over?”
Donald Trump: “[W]e have to be sure that muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it.” <– TO WHOM, while Islamophobia is rampant?
This is like telling a bully’s target that he needs to report his bully to a principal who thinks “a little bullying is good for ya!”
(On Twitter, in response to Trump’s answer: #MuslimsReportStuff)
18. I have to repeat this important quote by Hillary Clinton before I write deep thought #19, because I believe this, “We are not at war with Islam. And it is a mistake and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are. So, I want a country where citizens like you and your family are just as welcome as anyone else.”
19. K. Number 19. An advisor to Hillary Clinton: “You’re fucked either way, smile-wise. Focus on more relatable topics for likability points. Work in the late Muhammad Ali!”
21. If music doesn’t work this season, who should we get to cut off speeches at the Oscars? Donald Trump, Anderson Cooper or Martha Raddatz?
22. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, if you two wouldn’t mind skipping the tax talk in general? We are running out of time, it is boring and isn’t that what Thanksgiving dinner table conversation is for?
23. A white microphone is just as distracting as a black microphone, note to Hill. Even more distracting is Trump’s lack of microphone. Donald Trump, where are you hiding your mic, or is your voice just that loud?
24. People who pace make me so nervous. It is a zen-ass power move to sit or stand still while someone else is pacing, though.
25. What do you call this psychological tactic that Martha Raddatz uses where she calmly repeats the same question for different results?
Martha Raddatz: What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls?
Donald Trump: It is a disaster.
Martha Raddatz: What do you think will happen if it falls?
Donald Trump: I think it basically has fallen.
26. I bet Martha Raddatz’s hand doesn’t shake when she’s caffeine-deprived and picking up a saucer of coffee.
27. James Carter, Uncommitted Voter (who asked, “Do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?”), needs to narrate a documentary. What a voice.
28. When you’re an Uncommitted Voter at a town hall-style debate, and Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump answer you directly after you’ve asked them a question that you spent hours practicing in the mirror, do you stare them directly and fiercely in the eyes as I imagine is the only way to handle conversation at a nude beach, or do you black out a little bit, like giving a presentation in front of your classmates?
29. 3 a.m. is the same on Twitter as it is in the clubs: nothing good can happen. Even some adults need curfews.
30. Did this debate help edge any Uncommitted Voters closer to a decision? November 8 is an awfully rapidly-approaching deadline this Political Cuffing Season…
31. Hillary Clinton respects Donald Trump’s children; Donald Trump respects Hillary Clinton’s refusal to quit. Did we, even for a moment, even if it was bullshit, just play nicely on the court?
“Good game. Good game. My coach is making me say this otherwise I wouldn’t touch your hand. Good game.”
Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images.