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Published 9:09 am Wednesday, September 30, 2020
I write this on Tuesday morning and tonight is the first Presidential Debate. There are many who can shrug their shoulders at such an event, but not me. I’m usually getting ready for bed at 9:00 PM, but tonight, I’ll try to stay up and watch the ninety-minute “special.”
Presidential debates can be boring and this one might be, but boring and Donald Trump aren’t often used in the same sentence. Polls show our current president behind the challenger and President Trump may feel the need to be aggressive with Joe Biden. I think the better strategy would be to show respect and restraint. One can always dream, I guess.
The most famous presidential debate is probably the first televised one between Vice President Richard Nixon and the Democrat challenger, John F. Kennedy. I was ten years old at the time and don’t remember it in real time, but have certainly seen film of it. That debate is credited with changing the direction of the 1960 election.
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Until that September 26th encounter between Nixon and Kennedy, it was an uphill battle for Kennedy. Nixon benefitted from his position as Vice President. He was a little older and had greater governmental experience. On the other hand, the younger Kennedy seemed to be a more exciting candidate and, although it shouldn’t matter, was more handsome.
Television was still new, in a way, and the medium was kinder to the charismatic Kennedy. Plus, a big mistake by Nixon was his refusal to use the offered make-up to hide his natural “five o’clock shadow.” He had also lost weight and his appearance was dull and dowdy, while his challenger seemed young and invigorating.
Nervous Nixon lost that debate and the election just a few months later. It goes to show how important face to face encounters can be.
Here is something personal and interesting about former President Kennedy. I’ve been writing newspaper columns for almost thirty years. Before this paper, I wrote a weekly column for the local paper in Pelham.
In elementary school, we were asked to write a creative essay. I must have been ten or eleven. It was before President Kennedy was assassinated and Fidel Castro was the bogeyman of Cuba. I chose to imagine a heavyweight boxing match between our President Kennedy and Cuba’s dictator, Castro.
Cuba was playing “footsie” with Russia and the Cold War was pretty hot. I don’t remember too much about the imagined event except that I tried to make it funny and, naturally, the winner by a knock-out was JFK. After I turned in my creative writing composition, my teacher sent it to the Pelham Journal and they published it. My first newspaper article!
Back to tonight’s match. I’ll be watching for more than one reason, but the main reason is I haven’t seen or heard Joe Biden enough. As for President Trump, I think he would give an interview to a telephone pole and that’s okay. He’s no shrinking violet, but you know that.
When I was writing about the imagined boxing match between President Kennedy and Fidel Castro, I made sure that our President was full of vim and vigor. There were plenty of “haymakers” for Castro.
For tonight, I don’t care to see any “haymakers” thrown. I’d like to see fairness by all involved. I would like Chris Wallace to treat both candidates with equity. If a difficult question is given to the President, make sure the challenger gets his difficult question too.
It’s been a very strange and challenging year and this upcoming election is very important. By the time you read this, you might have seen or heard a reason to vote for one or the other. I hope it’s a positive reason.