?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.

Debate Time

We’re about an hour and a half away from the first presidential candidates’ debate of 2008. Earl and I, who represent the polar ends of the political spectrum, have agreed to the ground rules for watching the event on the same TV in the same room. It was as serious a discussion as the current bailout is in Washington, D.C., although it didn’t take half as long.

That’s probably because we’ve been through this before . . . (But then so has Congress!)

In 2004, we agreed to watch the Bush-Kerry debates together with the caveat that neither of us could express expletives, exclamations, or excruciatingly rude behavior toward the other’s candidate. We already knew neither of us would persuade the other of our political choice’s merits. We also knew that we would cancel each other’s vote. So the debates were not going to persuade anyone in our household with the name “Undecided.”

Rather, they were an opportunity to do something together in the evening. I could crochet while Bush and Kerry waxed eloquent. Earl could muse over a crossword puzzle, since these debates don’t really require one hundred percent of one’s attention.

It went swimmingly until the last debate, when I had had enough. In an unguarded moment, I vented what I had been thinking for several weeks. I cannot remember what I said at this time, nor can I recall the comment that triggered my outburst; but Earl clearly reminded me of our contract. He was right to do so, and all this went the way of political campaigning until today.

This afternoon we revisited our ground rules for watching the debates together, and I recalled that I was the one who forgot them. I’m still willing to try again, although I think the stakes are higher, the risks greater, the outcome less predictable.

And I’m not talking about Earl and me. I’m talking about the election.

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