Now that the coronavirus is stalking the halls of the White House, no one knows whether or not there will be another presidential debate. Trump and his enablers are no doubt hoping that this diagnosis provides a plausible excuse for him to hide out at Walter Reed Hospital and cancel future debates while slipping in some Fox news interviews and perhaps a couple of small rallies here and there to keep his spirits up. I’m certain that he and Chris Wallace are both happy to have that migraine-inducing debacle behind them.
My online yoga teacher is a delightful and charming retired surgeon who shares my extreme disapproval of our current President. But he also happens to be old friends with Chris Wallace. The day after the debate, I was listening to him graciously and loyally defending Wallace’s attempts to handle an admittedly difficult situation as I attempted to pretzel my body, with its partially paralyzed right leg, into something resembling Downward-Facing Dog when the thought occurred to me that Mr. Wallace’s debate performance was a lot like my yoga performance, in that neither is suitable for public viewing.
And then, probably because the blood was all rushing to my brain, I got an idea. In order to avoid a similar failure to maintain discipline and decorum, I propose that C-SPAN sponsor a nation-wide search to find a capable and experienced kindergarten teacher to serve as Sergeant at Arms for the next presidential debate. I’m not joking. There is plenty of time to organize and publicize the search, to solicit capable candidates to apply for the job, to review their qualifications, select one, and put that person forward for consideration by the Commission on Presidential Debates
I understand that helping to moderate the next two debates—if they happen— will be a dark, dangerous and dirty job, but I have no doubt that the kindergarten teachers of America would step up and volunteer to perform their civic duty. And I’m even more confident that most of them possess the backbone, discipline, mediation skills, moral authority, and experience in effectively shutting down bullies that poor Chris Wallace so obviously lacks.
This doesn’t mean that Steve Scully would be replaced as the next moderator. The winning teacher would simply be there, standing by, to serve as the enforcer so Scully could focus on getting his questions asked and answered without having to battle the trumpeted Trumpian mayhem. Scully is often described as the most patient man on television so I’m sure he would welcome the assistance of someone who knows how to enforce the rules of basic decorum and—more important— how to send a recalcitrant tot marching off to time-out when necessary.
Given how stodgy and ossified the Commission on Presidential Debates seems to be, the winning teacher probably wouldn’t have a chance of actually being selected for the job, but media attention that the search might inspire would be worth the effort. It would provide a much-needed mood lifter for everyone who is tired of listening to out-of-control and soul-destroying public discourse. And it might even give a ratings boost to C-SPAN. It’s exactly the kind of event that would be enthusiastically pounced on and taken up by Twitter and IG. Even if an in-person debate role is out of the question, one or more of the cable or network news services might be inspired to provide live commentary by their own no-nonsense guest-host kindergarten teachers about the missed opportunities by the moderator to keep the Big Baby in line.
Like you, I realize that this is all probably moot now that the Presidential diagnosis came down. I too have heard that unmistakable screeching sound as the never-Trumpers, Lincoln Project foot soldiers, embarrassed country-club Republicans, disgruntled strategists, cranky commentators and anxious evangelicals hit the brakes, hastily put their anti-Trump ads on hold and wait to hear if the giant orange albatross that’s been hanging around their Party’s neck actually lets go of his grip, slides down and gently expires on the poop deck.
Admit it. Whether they love him or hate him, that will be a great relief for most of them. It will give them the only chance they have to drag their once respected but now debased and shamelessly enabling Party across the finish line. I can picture them now, strapping their troublesome Toddler-in-Chief down to his hospital bed so they can scurry back to the White House and get behind the much more presentable and tractable Mike Pence (or as my husband calls him, the White Walker), a candidate who can be counted on to carry out Trump’s agenda without all the embarrassing and voter-alienating public demonstrations of his equally terrifying antipathy to democracy, social justice, religious freedom and economic equality.
So yes, I am unexpectedly but fervently hoping for Trump’s recovery. At least through what I hope will be his well-earned loss on election day. After that, I don’t care what happens to him. And by all appearances, I’m pretty sure he feels the same way about me.