Don’t underestimate the power of the putdown in a presidential debate

Will either – or both – of these men use humor or insults in their first presidential debate?AP PhotoChris Lamb, IUPUIBefore the first presidential debate, President Donald Trump demanded that his Democratic challenger Joe Biden submit to a drug test.Trump was again suggesting – without evidence – that his opponent takes performance-enhancing drugs.If Trump brings this up during the debate, no one should be surprised if Biden has a comeback prepared. Biden’s campaign has already issued a statement on the president’s unusual challenge – “If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he...

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All the President’s ‘nasty’ women

If I was a betting man, I could have bet a good amount on the probability that Trump’s first comments on Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate would include the misogynist epithet “nasty woman. "But my payout would have been very meager as the odds that Trump would do exactly that were extremely high. A year ago, the Huffington Post published a “non-exhaustive list of the women whom Trump has demeaned using the word ‘nasty.' “Non-exhaustive” is correct because the list only included seven (prominent) women.Among those sev...

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To understand the backlash against the women in the running for vice president, watch more TV

President Allison Taylor of ‘24’ ends up being exposed as Machiavellian.20th Century FoxKarrin Vasby Anderson, Colorado State UniversityJoe Biden’s promise to name a woman running mate has prompted familiar debates about gender and power.Are these potential vice presidents supposed to be presidential lackeys or understudies to the leader of the free world? Should they actively seek the position, or be reluctant nominees bound by duty?After Senator Kamala Harris’s name emerged as a short-list favorite, CNBC reported that some Biden allies and donors “initiated a campaign against Harris,” arguin...

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A summer of protest, unemployment and presidential politics – welcome to 1932

The Bonus Army stages a demonstration at the empty Capitol on July 2, 1932.Underwood and Underwood, photographers; Library of CongressJames N. Gregory, University of WashingtonAn election looms. An unpopular president wrestles with historic unemployment rates. Demonstrations erupt in hundreds of locations. The president deploys Army units to suppress peaceful protests in the nation’s capital. And most of all he worries about an affable Democratic candidate who is running against him without saying much about a platform or plans.Welcome to 1932.I am a historian and director of the Mapping Ameri...

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Happy Holidays!