MINOT, N.D. — A great national embarrassment occurred last night.
With the whole world watching, two cranky geriatrics vying for occupancy of the White House — one a doddering doofus, the other an inveterate bully — engaged in a bout of verbal flailing that had all the intellectual depth of an episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
I had many people texting me last night asking for my thoughts on the debate.
I didn’t answer one of them.
All I had to offer them was despair.
Today the staged combat, performed daily for ratings and clicks by our punditocracy, is focused on deciding which of these idiots was more to blame for the spectacle we all endured. An exercise in shouted, spittle-flecked, my-guy-is-better-than-your-guy nonsense.
As if it matters.
What won’t be much talked about is the degree to which that grim spectacle is a reflection of us. Mostly because that’s an uncomfortable truth to countenance.
But it is the truth.
We hate each other in a way that transcends politics.
Hollywood pumps and an endless stream of sneering progressive orthodoxy onto our screens, while folks out here in fly-over country talk of themselves as “real Americans” as if people from New York or California aren’t, uh, real.
Left-wingers are burning their “Harry Potter” books because author J.K. Rowling isn’t sufficiently woke on transgender issues.
Like toddlers who refuse to eat their peas, right-wingers are refusing to wear face masks amid a pandemic, while the left-wingers, who are fond of denouncing the authoritarian tones of the Trump movement, want to put those face mask dissenters in prison.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden, two men who are deeply unfit for the office one currently holds and the other seeks, are not the cause of this dysfunction.
They are a reflection of it.
Think what you want of Andrew Breitbart, but when he said that “politics is downstream from culture” he was right.
There is a chasm between us, culturally, and it’s manifesting itself in our politics.
That awful debate, that shoutfest between one idiot who could barely muster the gumption to condemn racists and the other idiot who is the old, white and male leader of a political party that has declared war on old, white men, was a mirror.
It reflected us.
Not one of us should like what we saw.