All of the below was written more than an hour before the presidential debate last night. I intended to edit it, but there was no need. I intended to fill in the bullets with quotes and observations, but I didn’t have the heart. —DM
You know what I miss, among so many other aspects of American life that I once took for granted?
I miss when presidential debates were kind of fun. I remember a “watch party” of a Gore/Bush debate at someone’s house, and my publisher Mark Ragan was playfully galloping around the living room pretending he was one of the “activist judges,” the Republicans were always going on about back then.
The last “watch party” I was at? Was at a former White House speechwriter’s house near D.C. four years ago. Bunch of speechwriters were invited—in town for the PSA World Conference. The thing was so upsetting that one invited speechwriter whispered his regrets and slipped out the back door and Uber-ed off into the night, alone. He literally just couldn’t.
My wife asked if I was going to live blog last night and I said no, because live blogging is supposed to be fun and this isn’t fun. It’s like having Vin Scully call the collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm.
And my hackneyed Hunter S. Thompson act of getting fucked up, or pretending to, doesn’t fit with this moment, either.
I mean, who cares if Herb Morrison had a bracer or two before heading out to cover the arrival of the Hindenburg.
Alas, I didn’t have a Writing Boots post slated for today. I was obviously going to be watching. So I decided to live blog it, but not post it until the clear light of day, this morning.
Here is what I posted:
It’s starting to rain again; it’s… the rain had (uh) slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from…It’s burst into flames! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It’s fire… and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It’s burning and bursting into flames and the… and it’s falling on the mooring mast. And all the folks agree that this is terrible; this is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world. Oh it’s… [unintelligible] its flames… Crashing, oh! Four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it… it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It’s smoke, and it’s in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! And all the passengers screaming around here. I told you; it – I can’t even talk to people, their friends are on there! Ah! It’s… it… it’s a… ah! I… I can’t talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it’s just laying there, mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk and the screaming, lady, I… I… I’m sorry. Honest: I… I can hardly breathe. I… I’m going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that’s terrible. Ah, ah… I can’t, I… Listen, folks; I… I’m gonna have to stop for a minute because I’ve lost my voice. This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.
And then I Uber-ed off into the night, alone.
Postscript: Debate moderator Chris Wallace gave an interview on Wednesday in which he said, ““I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”