Debate & Switch 

Wow. What a debate, eh? I mean, who could have seen that coming? President Trump demanding that Joe Biden take a drug test live, on national television? Whoa!

And then, Biden coming back with that great dad-joke one-liner: "Urine sane, Donald! Don't piss me off!"

Then, what about when Trump told moderator Chris Wallace that not paying taxes "makes me smart," and Biden said, "Well, then, how smart do you have to be to pay a porn star $130,000?" You have to admit, that was a classic moment, one for the history books.

And don't get me started about Trump making fun of Sleepy Joe's cosmetic surgery, and Biden pointing out that Trump deducted $70,000 from his taxes for makeup and hair. That was tense, right? These guys were like two old (really old) heavyweights, letting it all out, hammering away at each other. American democracy at its finest.

click to enlarge screen_shot_2020-09-29_at_11.04.16_pm.png

Well, okay, none of that happened. Or maybe it did. It wouldn't surprise me. Crazier things have happened. In fact, they do, every week. But by now you've probably figured out that I had to finish this column on Tuesday, several hours before the first 2020 presidential debate began. So what everyone will be talking about on Wednesday after the debate is a mystery as I write this. I do know it will probably be ridiculous — or terrifying. Or both. And I do know I'll be drinking as I watch it. These things make me very nervous, especially this year.

Maybe we'll get yet another giant bombshell of a revelation that will "end Trump's presidency," something "he can't possibly survive," like ignoring Russia putting bounties on American troops, or telling Bob Woodward he intentionally downplayed COVID-19, or paying off a porn star to keep quiet about a liaison, or intentionally separating children from their parents and putting them in cages to deter immigration, or falsely saying mail-in ballots were a crooked Democratic scheme, or telling America that he wouldn't accept November's election results unless he liked them.

What's next? Who can possibly predict? It's just exhausting. Every day there are new tweets, new lies, new outrages, new revelations. And I'm sure by the time you read this, some fresh nonsense will have happened — during the debate or after — that no one could have even imagined.

We're in a topsy-turvy world, where blue-collar white guys who have more than $750 deducted from every paycheck are defending a president who pays no taxes and got a $72 million tax-refund check, where religious evangelicals who claim to be disciples of Jesus are standing up for a man who is the very antithesis of Christian values, where Republicans who used to claim to be "conservative" have abandoned any and all principles, choosing instead to relentlessly kiss the ass of an amoral grifter. Lamar Alexander, I'm talking to you. Among many others.

I miss normal. I miss presidents who have pets and wear casual clothes and go on vacations with their kids, presidents who don't spend every spare moment watching Fox News and trying to get — or divert — our attention by tweeting at us 40 times a day. I miss not having to think about our fearless leader every time I turn on the news or go online. I miss being able to assume that the president — Democrat or Republican — is looking out for the American people and trying to do what they think is best for us, instead of constantly working a hustle for their own bottom line. I miss being able to assume the president has at least some core principles, some level of integrity.

I'm tired of all this incompetency and narcissism and lying and exaggeration — every damn day. I think most Americans are. But it's clear by now that those who support Trump — maybe 40 percent of us — are all in, no matter what he says or does. It's a cult. Nothing will deter their allegiance to their orange Jim Jones. And it's also become quite clear that nothing ends this madness but an election, and even that is in question with this guy.

More chaos lies ahead of us — maybe weeks, maybe months — all complicated by the unrelenting virus that hangs in the background, ready to re-emerge if we let down our vigilance. The bottom line is undeniable: We need a massive landslide defeat of the man who has corrupted the American presidency, who has turned federal agencies into political fiefdoms, and who has made the U.S. Justice Department into his personal law firm.

Vote. That's it. Do it in person, if at all possible. This chapter of American history needs to end.

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