Yikes! The Presidential Debates are Coming! RUDE – Call Security!

The campaign slogan for one of the Presidential candidates in the debate that night was It’s experience that counts to which the other candidate responded  I’m not satisfied with the way things are I think we can do a better job.

“A good record is never to stand on, but sometimes it can be used to build on,” said the older man with skin so white he looked pasty to the television viewing audience.

“I want to say these are the years when the tide came in for America – not when it rolled out,” said the cool confident handsome younger man.

I was fourteen years old in September, 1960 when the first presidential debates aired on television and radio by the only three networks operating at the time: NBC, CBS and ABC. I’d like to say I have fond memories of the debate – or really any memories of the debate – but I must have filed them in a safe place where they are currently unavailable for recall so after watching Bon Qui Qui at the King Burger again today for the umpteenth time because that youtube video guarantees me a good laugh, I inexplicably clicked on the video of the initial Kennedy/Nixon presidential debate.

Now why would I connect Bon Qui Qui to presidential debates…who knows…perhaps because her hilarious Rude – call Security lines from that routine jump-started my brain to the  images I’m already dreading of the first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign which is coming up in prime time Monday night. My approach/avoidance nerves are already jangling at the prospect of a forum that will be less than inspirational. Rude – call security.  Play nice, please.

Richard Nixon was the Republican Vice President of the United States when he decided to run for President the first time in 1960.  He had served under President Dwight Eisenhower for seven and a half years and his campaign slogan was It’s Experience That Counts. In the course of the first debate that evening in September, 1960  he touted his contributions to the Eisenhower administration and powerfully argued their two terms in office had been successful ones for the nation.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a Senator from Massachusetts when he entered the presidential race in 1960 and the televised debate was a huge opportunity to introduce himself to a country that didn’t really know much about him other than his religion was Catholic and he was very young. In his first eight minutes of television time, he defined himself as the candidate of change with a skilled oratorical style reminiscent of a Baptist revival preacher about to give an altar call.

Following Senator Kennedy’s passionate I’m not satisfied rhetoric in his opening remarks, Nixon agreed that both candidates wanted to see the country moving forward but their disagreement was in the means to make that happen. One of the biggest disagreements was the role of the federal government in dealing with issues such as  farming supplements, health care for an aging population, balanced budgets,  income taxes, labor unions and a host of other problems. Nixon implied the Democrats looked to the federal government for too many answers. “I don’t believe in big government, but I do believe in effective government action,” Senator Kennedy argued.

The first debate was supposedly on domestic issues, but both candidates linked domestic problems to foreign affairs.  Senator Kennedy’s boogeymen were Soviet Premier Khrushchev and the Chinese Communists, and his warning If the United States fail, then the whole cause of freedom fails was a strong statement advocating global leadership for America.

Unfortunately for Vice President Nixon, the television cameras were not kind to him. While the radio listeners subsequently declared Nixon to be the winner of the first debate, television viewers gave the nod to Kennedy.  One historian said that Nixon had hurt his knee getting out of a taxi before going  into the debate and was in a great deal of pain throughout the debate which probably didn’t help his onstage look.

His pale skin was due to refusing any makeup, and he didn’t win points when he kept glancing at a clock on a wall in the room which made it appear that his eyes were shifty and he was unfocused on the topics. All in all, Richard Nixon had poor optics and poorer preparation for television.

It wasn’t Nixon’s eyes or Kennedy’s delivery that struck me most about these debates of fifty-six years ago, however.  No, what gobsmacked me was how little the campaign themes have differed through the years but how much the style of the debates has taken a flying leap out of control to the dark side.  Experience versus change. That is still the language of today’s candidates, although the party roles are reversed from the 1960 campaign.

I have watched presidential debates since 1976 with the same passion and critiques I usually reserve for the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. I don’t miss them, and ordinarily I would be ecstatic at the opportunity to watch the first female presidential candidate participate in the debate.  Yet, the debate style has gotten so off the grid from political issues to personal attacks I fear the worst. Most def…which leads me to a second Bon Qui Qui quote from her King Burger routine as a counter consultant for a major fast food chain: Have it your way, but don’t go crazy.

Please, for all of our sake Monday night. Have it your way, but don’t go crazy… or we might have to say Rude – call Security and switch to Monday Night Football.


About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Personal, politics, Reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Yikes! The Presidential Debates are Coming! RUDE – Call Security!

  1. I’d watch the debate from behind the sofa with cotton wool in my ears. Think it might be better to wait for the views on the news the next day 😉 Good luck to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne says:

    Not looking forward to Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Yikes! The Presidential Debates are Coming! RUDE – Call Security! | I'll Call It Like I See It

  4. Bob Slatten says:

    I’d like to watch but whenever one of the candidates speaks, I find myself reaching for the mute button, so, really, it’d just be a Clinton speech … and I’m fine with that.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.