Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

I don't know whether to be furious, frustrated, or saddened by the presidential election. All I can say with certainly is that it's been the least presidential campaign that I've ever seen.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

You left out "embarrassed."


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

That's not a word you use very often. Especially since it's almost impossible to embarrass you as you never seem to care what people think about you.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I am not embarrassed for me personally; I am embarrassed for all Americans. Between the number of COVID-19 deaths, the civil unrest, and the presidential campaign, our country's reputation has taken a major hit.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

Well, the first presidential debate definitely didn't help. You would've been rolling your eyes at me if you had been at my house. I was actually talking, and at some points, shouting, at the TV. I knew I could just walk away but felt compelled to stay because I was hoping that the debate would provide useful information. I wanted to better understand the candidates' platforms and especially their plans to get us through all these crises.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Instead, you just got a better understanding of their personalities, the showmanship of politics, and the challenges of moderating a debate when the rules are ignored.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

No kidding! I appreciate that people want their presidential debates to be entertaining, but they're also supposed to help undecided voters get clarity, and help all of us better evaluate the candidates. And by that, I mean their substance, not their style!


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Actually, it is a mix of the two. A successful debate delivers factual information using strong presentation skills, but also has an element of cleverness and maybe even a little theatrics.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

Says the debate queen. I've lost track of how many conversations with you feel more like a debate.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

That is because I think of debate as sport. However, regardless of whether it is a debate or a conversation, it should always be civil and respectful. You love history. When was the first televised presidential debate?


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

That's easy. 1960 between JFK and Nixon. And that's when things started to change. Instead of a campaign focused purely on policy and critical issues, it began to highlight the candidate's public image.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Exactly. So, if you were a media or PR consultant, who would you have preferred as your client – a young handsome senator from an established family or a highly-qualified hollow-eyed lawmaker who had been vice president for eight years?


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

Sounds like a trick question.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Not really. I was pointing out how different the candidates were from each other, and how their "selling points" were more than just their experience. You can see why the "packaging" of politicians became so critical. And, strategic.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes, but even without watching the JFK and Nixon debate, I'm confident they had one thing in common – to treat the other with respect and civility.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Of course. Each was trying to convince voters they were the better candidate to be president so each had to project a presidential persona. But, being statesmanlike does not mean you cannot point out weakness or mistakes. It means you do it without being rude or demeaning.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

And if you want to be really clever, you can beat your opponent to the punch. I remember when President Reagan was seeking to become the oldest president to win reelection and in the debate with Walter Mondale said, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." I know that the line was probably scripted in advance, but even Mondale laughed.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

It was a great line, delivered with style and charisma. Which is why it has been remembered all these years, even after people have forgotten whatever else may have been said. Now, what will people remember from this year's campaign?


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

Are you asking big picture or specific sound bites? I can't speak for others, and rather not point out specific comments, but I'll never forget how ugly the debate was. I was totally turned off by the whole thing. It provided no value whatsoever and if there was anything of substance, it was lost in the chaos.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I almost turned it off. The only reason I kept watching was I wanted to hear everything in real time and in context, not edited soundbites. And, no editorial.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

I heard several commentators saying how children watching it had left in tears and how many parents were having to console them and do their best to explain things.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I have no idea how to explain it. Full stop. Yet alone to children.


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

I'm so grateful that my girls are old enough that I didn't have to explain it to them. But at the same time, I'm so angry that they're experiencing this. I wish they could experience what it used to be. What it's supposed to be. Arguments, yes. Differences, absolutely. But not a total disregard for other people's opinions. And a total lack of civility and respect.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I fully appreciate the theater and spectacle of today's political arena, but at the risk of showing my age, some things – including statesmanship – never go out of style.

Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

Want to bet on that?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

No. But, I am willing to debate it with you.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

No, it is merely a fact.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Maybe a fist bump?
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Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


Red assets.rebelmouse.io


I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

You know how I like to blah-blah-blah, barely letting anyone get a word in edgewise?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Is this a rhetorical question? Or, a trick question?


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Neither, I leave those to you. And, you know how things happen to us that seem accidental but probably aren’t coincidences?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Is there a point to these questions? If so, can you please get to it?


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

As you often tell me, “Patience, grasshopper.” Although I know that’s not your strong suit. Especially not in conversations. Anyway, the other day you sent me a video about stutterers. Well, that same day, I happened to speak to someone who stuttered, and it was just what I needed.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

The video? Or, the conversation?
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