There is a very simple way to deal with time-and-space-hogging BULLIES in a debate:
TURN OFF THEIR FUCKING MICROPHONE!
As they say, it ain't rocket science. The organizers can make it a policy to only turn on a debater's mic when it is his turn to speak. That's it! When I ran for Mayor of San Francisco and spoke at so many forums, sometimes we were told that our mic would be turned off if we went over our allotted time. Not that we were ever uncivil. It is very easy to have a lively debate within the bounds of civility. But often candidates would try to go on longer than they were entitled to talk.
Carolyn and I had planned to watch the debate in our separate flats and then get together on Zoom to discuss it. She phoned me very early on in that chaotic travesty and said she couldn't bear it and was turning off the TV. I'm sure I would have too, if I didn't feel a responsibility as Blogmistress to witness it all.
I chose the photo above because it shows Biden speaking directly to the audience, which he did often and Trump never did. Biden was always very effective when he looked us in the eye, usually reminding us of what we already know about the difference between him and Trump.
Yes, Biden stumbled and misspoke often. He was spirited and combative but not fluent. I wish he hadn't returned Trump's insults with his own insults. But how can I criticize what he did in this nightmarish situation, in which First Bully was going all-out to create chaos?
Of course Trump lied lied lied lied, bringing up "scandals" that had evaporated long ago, like Bidden's son's activities in the Ukraine.
What would have been the ideal response
for Biden to give to Trump's insanity?
I have an idea, having been in a similar situation years ago. Not that the stakes were quite as high as last night.
I was performing WAITING FOR THE PODIATRIST at Venue 9 in San Francisco in 2003. When we were in the final stages of rehearsal, we were chortling over what a winner the play was going to be! Sometimes you know when you've got a hit on your hands.
And sometimes you just THINK you've got a hit on your hands. For whatever reason, the audiences were miniscule. TINY! Very disheartening. What one does in situations like that is paper the house, which means giving away tickets to people who are unlikely to pay to attend -- and in this case that was anybody. Our producer chose to give away a block of tickets to the neighborhood halfway house for recovering drug addicts.
I don't blame the halfway house residents who came. They were probably ordered to attend this play with puppets and songs about a middle-aged Jewish lesbian visiting the intensive care unit where the father puppet lies in a coma. It is possible they had never been to a play before and were unfamiliar with theatre etiquette, which requires one to sit in one's seat and SHUT UP.
It turned out that -- despite the wonderfullness of this production, the wit, the charming songs, the pathos, the whatever -- these particular audience members were not thrilled with PODIATRIST, and they wanted me to know. It also turned out that they were homophobic AND antisemitic and wanted me to know that too.
It was a horrible experience, both for me and the rest of the audience, as I kept grinding away through the performance. It's not a good thing for the audience to feel sorry, not for your character, but for YOU the performer. I also felt sorry for me and didn't know what to do except to soldier on until it was over. Unfortunately, there was an important critic in the audience that night, and her review reflected the dreariness of the experience, without mentioning the source of the dreariness. Sometimes you can't lose for losing.
But all artists know that.
ANYHOW, afterwards, I asked myself..
What could I have done differently?
And I decided that I could have simply dropped my character and spoken directly to the troublemakers and asked/told them to leave -- which I'm certain they would have been thrilled to do. I would not have gone on with the play until they were gone. And then I could have graciously apologized to the remaining few denizens of those oh-so-many chairs and cheerfully returned to playing Alex, who had a very dicey relationship with the Mother puppet.
I would have had to refuse to go on with the play while these audience members were misbehaving. That would have been the appropriate thing to do.
And that's what Biden should have done. He should have said to that ludicrously wimpy moderator, "I'm sorry, but this is not a debate. This is (as one commentator described it) a brawl. If you cannot do something to control President Trump, we cannot continue."
Sometimes the show SHOULD NOT go on.
Not until some changes are instituted. But of COURSE I don't blame Biden for not thinking of that, just as I don't blame MYSELF for not thinking of stopping the show.
Trump wasn't there to debate. He was out to psychology destroy Biden, to shred him. He did not succeed in that. For whatever the glitches were, I admire Joe Biden for refusing to be knocked over.