Mister Rogers vs. the Schoolyard Bully

It’s four in the morning. Can’t sleep anymore. Might as well blog. Blog. That is not a pretty word. “Write” is prettier.


When the “debate” ended, I was shaking. My heart was pounding. I mean REALLY shaking. Not sure I ever experienced that before. Frustration, anxiety, screaming at the TV. I haven’t read or seen any commentary.

How many of you also watched it alone? Quite a few, I bet. I had arranged earlier to talk with my friend Jerry afterwards. I knew I didn’t want to be alone after. He immediately said “Mister Rogers versus the schoolyard bully!” He said, “It was horrible! I feel like I’ve been abused! I’ve been abused!”


How can you have a debate when one person lies and lies and lies and lies? Lying gave the Bully so much power. Reality, facts don’t matter to a liar. Liars create whatever reality that suits them. Lying IS a form of bullying. Maybe I’ve never experienced being abused by a bully before. Biden said many times “You’re lying.”

Jerry thought Biden looked weak when he looked down while the Bully was talking/lying. I didn’t think so. Of course it doesn’t matter what WE think. We live in California. What do the important people, the Purple People think?

I loved when Biden looked AT me. That’s when he’s regular Joe to me, a decent man. He spoke truth. He said we have to get to zero emissions to save the planet. Yes. That was courageous. He talked about retrofitting houses, he talked about green jobs. The bully scoffed, “It’ll cost a hundred trillion.” The decent man laughed and said “Where does he get these figures?”

How easy for the Bully. He makes up whatever facts he needs.

Most of the Purple People have children, don’t they? Don’t they worry about how climate change will affect the humans they love the most? And if they DON’T love their children, how about their GRANDchildren? EVERYBODY adores their grandchildren! Don’t they worry what the planet will be like for THEM?

The Bully paraded his contempt for “Democratic cities in blue states.” The Decent Man said he would be President of all the people. The Bully created an alternate reality where only those scorned blue places were drowning in Covid, whereas the map in the paper yesterday showed the center of the country dark with the pandemic.

The Purple People MUST know, everyone MUST know that we have the highest death rate in the world from Covid!

Why didn’t the Decent Man mention that? What would Bernie have said? Or Liz?

I laid in bed thinking of all the things the Decent Man should have said. He’s not a good debater. Well, we knew that, didn’t we? The Decent Man stuttered sometimes. Can the Purple People accept a President who stutters?

To me, it seems the finest thing in the world to have a President of the United States who stutters.

The Decent Man talked of the 545 children still separated from their parents. He said he would create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in this country. He wants a national minimum wage of $15 an hour! He talked of all the supposedly precious essential workers who work two jobs and can’t pay the rent. He showed compassion for people in need.

The Bully talked about his “four hundred miles of beautiful wall.”

Jerry said, “I don’t know what I’ll do if Trump wins.” I thought, “Leave the country.” I’d never thought before of fleeing for political reasons.

Jerry said, “Leave the country?”

“But, Jerry, that would be wrong. Unfortunately, what our country does affects the whole world! But the world has no control over what we do! The sane Americans have to stay here and fight!”

We talked about how we two would probably be alright, no matter what. We have enough money. And we’re OLD! I’m old and Jerry’s older. But the younger ones, the children..

Who are we as a nation? The Decent Man posed that question. Will we choose the Bully?

Jerry and I ended our call.

I decided to spend the rest of the evening chopping and roasting vegetables. I’d been putting off this task for days and suddenly it seemed a thrilling and delightful prospect. And it WAS absolutely the perfect activity for that moment. I put Elton John’s greatest hits on the CD player, got out my cleaver and went after that cauliflower, that eggplant, that yam, those zucchinis and mushrooms. I even roasted kale for the first time. Slowly, slowly, as I chopped and danced, the tremendous anxiety drained from my body, my soul. Finally I was ready to go to bed. I turned off the oven, leaving the vegetables to finish without me. And when I came back to the kitchen to sit and write this blog, there they were, in all their roasted perfection.

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Terry Baum is an actress, director, teacher, filmmaker, political activist, and award-winning lesbian playwright. Her blog BAUMBLOG is a “Top 100 LGBTQ Blog.”

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