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Chester County Press

Editorial: Truth, in movements

09/27/2016 02:59PM ● By Richard Gaw
On Monday evening, at about 8:45 p.m., the Chester County Press staff writer drove through the Somerset Lake development in Landenberg, on his way to watch the first of three Presidential debates that could help influence, and ultimately decide, the future of every person in every home he was passing.
He admired the blue translucency of television screens that seemed to glow from every home, no doubt tuned in anticipation to what would soon serve as the collision point of two campaigns marked by distinctly different tenor and tenacity. It had been an insufferable summer; nearly every new day brought another controversy, and a steady flow of Tweet zingers that crossed the lines of basic decency and reverberated into the American bloodstream like cancer cells. All through the hot months, one candidate back-stepped repeatedly in an effort to distance herself from her own mistakes – the cautionary queen in a pantsuit. Meanwhile, to the incorrigible delight of his minions, the other candidate raged like a spoiled wild child born into a world with no accountability. 
What could these people in these homes possibly expect would be any different tonight, the staff writer thought.  At its best, he thought, the next 90 minutes would serve to crack open the door of our Democracy and reveal the picture of what it would look like if one or the other candidate is fortunate to enter. At its worst, it would be a re-do of our summer of discontent, and show the stuff that the people in the houses he had just passed have already seen.
The staff writer arrived at the home of friends, took his seat on a couch, and wrote, “Everything rests not only on content, but movements: A tic, a sigh, an unexpected twitch.” Then, as the debate began, the man in the blue suit on the left side of the television screen began snorting. He power guzzled water like a corner safety on the sidelines at the Rose Bowl. He grimaced and sighed and squinted and glared. He interrupted his opponent. For every well-placed criticism he levied – and there were some – he lobbed ten more in a nearly incoherent blather spurt of half-truths and unfounded inaccuracies. (Are we really a third world country? Are we really losing on everything?)
By the hour mark, his night began to crumble into the same tired hyperbole that marked his own graceless summer. And then he simply got lost, completely devoid of direction; the mouth-flailing victim of a near drowning, left to defend his questionable temperament.
Meanwhile, the woman in the red pantsuit on the right side of the screen resembled the honor student who breezes through her examination because she had come well prepared. She spelled out the specifics of her platform. She apologized for her well-documented mistakes. She called her opponent on his most crucial vulnerabilities, and criticized his support of actions that are now considered unconstitutional. She named some of those who have been on the receiving end of his criticisms and his blind inquiries, most particularly levied on our current president.
For 90 minutes, the woman in the red pantsuit remained calm, coolly unflappable.
At about 11 p.m., after watching the pundits breeze through the spin zone, the staff writer began to drive home. Save for a few houselights, most of Landenberg was now pitch dark. Was anyone still up? the staff writer wondered. Are they thinking about which candidate would make the better president, based on what they just saw on their televisions? Do they measure leadership by the twin points of tactful, clear thinking and preparation, or by visceral and unchecked fury?
Most of them have already made their decision, the staff writer thought, and for those who support the twitching and snorting man in the blue suit, no performance on their candidate's behalf, however abysmal as his was on Monday night, is likely to sway their opinion now.
There was no denying, however, that they saw the truth, in movements.  

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