A weird night for TV politics this evening, as Joe Biden and Donald Trump—in what we can’t help but see as some kind of metaphor for some goddamn thing or another—essentially had a debate without actually looking at, talking to, or being in the same room as each other, instead holding televised events on two separate networks, and then asking the American people to channel surf their way to a choice. With Trump on NBC, talking to reporter Savannah Guthrie, and Biden on ABC, operating in a town-hall format, the dueling broadcasts were a study in contrast, as Trump equivocated wildly on whether he thinks there are pedophile cults operating in America, and quibbled about the political and legal ramifications of retweeting. While Biden, uh, answered people’s questions about what he’d do if he were president.
This contrast was, bizarrely, highlighted by one of Trump’s own advisers, Mercedes Schlapp, who suggested that Biden’s town hall “feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers [sic] Neighborhood.” Schlapp seemed to view this statement as some kind of sick burn, apparently unaware of how many people in this country would fucking love to spend time with a calm, kind, soothing man who genuinely cares about them, rather than, say, “someone’s crazy uncle,” the parallel Guthrie drew when reminding Trump that retweeting random conspiracy theories actually has consequences, when the person retweeting them is the president.
And really, we’ll take any excuse to see Fred Rogers trending on Twitter again; the topic is already filling up with videos of Rogers’ comforting words and reminders toward kindness. The part that baffles us is how Schlapp seemed to think that comparing her candidate’s rival to one of the most beloved public figures of the last 50 years was supposed to be a rhetorical win; the implication is that Biden was behaving in a cozy, boring, slightly soporific way, and Christ does that sound nice at this point.