As the bell tolled 10:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), I clicked off my television and sat there in the dark, a thousand-yard stare on my face and an empty glass on my coffee table, in which had once been three fingers of Bulleit bourbon.
Had I really just watched the two presidential candidates on the oldest representative democracy on earth yelling at each other, talking over each other with abandon and avoiding questions from moderator Chris Wallace with the skill of Olympic fencers?
My questions were met only by the darkness and cold of a Cleveland, Ohio, October night.
As with the previous two debates — even moreso this time, in fact — the attention given to energy policy, climate change or solar power was practically nil, since Secretary Clinton’s debate strategy was to do everything in her power to get under Donald Trump’s skin with little jabs at his ego until he succumbed to his apparently insatiable desire to talk down to women and interrupt moderators (Clinton did some of the latter, too, though to a far lesser extent).
The only tangential reference to “clean energy” was when Secretary Clinton said this:
“I think we can compete with high-wage countries, and I believe we should. New jobs and clean energy, not only to fight climate change, which is a serious problem, but to create new opportunities and new businesses (emphasis added).
Yep. That was it. That was the some total of the discussion of the single-most important issue for most world leaders, climate change. Something that if the United States and other countries don’t do anything about it could actually make the planet uninhabitable for human beings.
And it was reduced in the third debate to a toss away line about clean jobs (at least Clinton acknowledged climate change was “a serious issue,” before veering off into education policy — it was like watching a sandpiper flying low across the Gulf of Mexico, briefly touching the water and then rising again to the sky).
(I would add, tangentially, that Clinton’s overall strategy of framing solar energy as a jobs program is smart — but that doesn’t excuse her from ignoring the climate-change issue almost entirely in all three debates.)
After the second debate, multiple people suggested on Twitter that they yearned for a 90 minute debate strictly on energy policy and climate change. Not me. After what I’ve seen in the past three debates, I’m happy to hide under the covers until Nov. 8 to avoid seeing these candidates on the stump again.
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