With all the social media memes comparing Tuesday night’s debate to an unruly kindergarten classroom, I decided to text my favorite kindergarten teacher to see if that was an accurate assessment.
“Well, they didn’t throw poo,” said the Princess from her apartment across the state.
Yes, well. That’s something I suppose. Maybe they’re saving that for the (shudder, likker drink) next debate, which may or may not ever happen owing to Trump’s unfortunate Covid diagnosis.
As we watched and texted across the miles, social media lit up with schoolyard references. Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” tweeted: “Chris Wallace’s debate performance tonight is a great reminder that kindergarten teachers are underpaid.”
But, how much was it REALLY like kindergarten, I pressed the Princess.
“Oh, it’s just like it,” she said. Talking over each other, whining about how the other was mistreating them to the teacher (moderator), refusing to share by hogging the other’s designated time; lying, bullying (Trump) and telling the other to “shut up” (Biden)—are common violations of kindergarten classroom order.
“Telling someone to shut up is forbidden,” the Princess said gravely. “If you don’t apologize you could lose your turn as line leader.”
Line leader, it turns out, is a position of great honor and responsibility in which you get to lead the class into the library or the lunchroom or playground.
“But if you really want to punish them,” she said, “you don’t let them have any time on the tablet. Screen time is what they love best.”
Like spending the day not reading or sharing or playing with others but instead tweeting and watching Fox News, I supposed.
The Princess pointed out even the moderator demonstrated a teacher trick in which you try to calm the most unruly kindergartener with what amounts to bribery.
“I don’t like to bribe but sometimes it’s all you can do,” she said, citing the moment a flummoxed Chris Wallace teasingly promised Trump he’d really like the next couple of questions so he’d stop screaming and trying to dunk Biden’s head in the toilet.
“I had to use old Halloween candy to get a kid to stop yelling,” the Princess said. “Chris Wallace needs some fun-size Snickers…”
It wasn’t hard to picture Trump as the oversized bully who trips you and steals your lunch money right outside the cafeteria.
Stealing is a very serious offense in kindergarten and would be dealt with swiftly and firmly. Say, for instance, you stole from another kid’s cubby and that cubby was the U.S. Treasury, well…you might end up in the principal’s office. And you might be suspended!
The kindergarten analogy was accurate then?
“Oh, totally,” she said, adding that an even more accurate comparison would be the reunion episodes of the Real Housewives of New York, especially when Dorinda and Ramona butt heads.
“So, you’re saying Andy Cohen would’ve been better equipped to moderate the debate?”
“Oh, 100 percent,” she responded. “They won’t respect you if you show weakness and Andy never shows weakness. He’s the only one who can get them to stop screaming and listen.”
It’s worth a shot. But he better bring some ratty Starbursts just in case.
Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.