The Debate

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There is always excitement at the prospect of a presidential debate. The Kennedy Nixon face off in l960 was of course an iconic moment in politics (being the first presidential debate) as well as television and Nixon may have lost since he lacked a mastery of the medium. If you remember he had been sick and showed it. Sound familiar? But in some ways the anticipation accorded the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, exceeded that of any political stand off in memory and was more reminiscent of one of those contests that have a physical aspect like say The Super Bowl or great boxing matches like The Thriller in Manila or The Rumble in the Jungle. One of the famous tourist sites of Rome is the Circo Massimo or the Circus Maximus which was where gladiatorial combats took place and the thrill of today's circus is still predicated on the same kind of blood thirsty desires that motivated the crowds in Roman times. Will the Flying Wallendas fall? The Icarus myth is, of course, what's at work in these kinds of revels. One of the acrobats or warriors is flying too close to the sun where his wings of wax will melt. Everyone was saying that the candidates and especially Trump had to talk about the issues: the economy, the inner cities and ISIS, but what, in fact, was really motivating the expected record setting 100,000,000 viewers that were predicted was the desire for gore. The fact that the fight was between a hefty looking man and comparatively diminutive woman only added a David and Goliath affect. Someone was going to fall and in an increasingly tight race that fall would set the tone for the rest of the race.

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}

Second Kennedy Nixon Debate (photo: United Press International)