Reliving the (Debate) Trauma

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Live blogging a debate is a curious experience. You’re not really watching it in the way one might watch a news show or a sports events. Because you’re watching with a very focused level of attention and also writing at the same time. That means you pick up almost everything and yet sometimes miss things that are right there – sort of like a hyper- or over-focused driver. For me the effect was compounded with this debate because so many normally impossible, norm-shattering things happened in such a rush.

So for instance after I was getting ready for bed last night after transcribed this passage in the debate I suddenly remembered: wait, he doubled down on Hillary inventing birtherism. Again, I saw it happen but so much else was happening so quickly I’d forgotten. Then just now I remember that chilling, angry moment where Trump pointed at Clinton and said: “She has tremendous hate in her heart … She’s got tremendous hatred.” The head just spins with the cocktail of vented hate, projection and smoldering anger.

The one part I confess I didn’t get as the debate happened was Trump looming, almost stalking into Clinton’s space. I remember that while watching there were a few times that I saw Clinton speaking and saw Trump sort of over her shoulder in the background. But I figured it was just a weird camera angle. I think this was a matter of that debate viewing mode where you’re writing and fixated on the words, as I explained above. A lot of the visuals and body language just fly past you. Or maybe I just wasn’t as tuned in as a lot of female viewers were. Perhaps it’s both. There’s no way for me to know. But watching the video after the fact it’s jarring.

Clinton definitely felt him looming behind her, getting up close, as she explained in on her campaign plane just after the debate. You can see a few of the videos clips here.

The whole debate was filled with so much transgression of the country’s time-honored ways of conducting politics that it really does all become a blur. Trump’s direct threat to jail Clinton when he comes to power is a bell that won’t be un-rung.

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