The two big questions about the Pennsylvania senatorial debates were: Will Democrat John Fetterman show up in a hoodie, and will the use of closed captioning scramble or slow the debate?
It was no hoodie. He wore a baggy charcoal suit. Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz missed the opportunity to ask, “Decided to dress like an adult tonight, John?”
The closed captioning did not slow things at all, and it seemed like Fetterman was able to comprehend the questions without the gimmick’s help.
There was a smidge of trouble with Fetterman’s first three words: “Good night, everybody.”
He meant “Good evening, everybody.”
Not a fatal error. That came later.
For most of the “debate,” which was more like Q&A by two able reporters, the event was like a master class in sidestepping questions. With few exceptions, there were no direct answers to direct questions.
With a couple of exceptions. Anchor Dennis Owens asked each candidate who they were for in Sunday’s Eagles/Steelers game. Fetterman replied Pittsburgh; Oz took Philadelphia and sang a bit of “Fly, Eagles, Fly.”
In my playbook, the most dramatic, deer-in-the-headlights moment came when anchor Lisa Sylvester asked Fetterman his position on fracking. He loves it as much as his mother, he said. (My words, not his.) Sylvester then revealed a 2018 quote from Fetterman which has him saying, “I don’t support fracking.”
When she asked him to explain those opposing views the silence was deafening. He eventually just repeated his support for fracking.
Prior to the appearance, Fetterman’s handlers waved a white towel by saying, “John is going to win this race, even if he doesn’t win the debate.”
Another master class, this time in lowering expectations.
And well that they should, because Oz is an old pro at TV, he knows it is a cool medium, and kept his cool while Fetterman loudly interrupted several times, like you-know-who.
If you don’t know who, that’s Donald J. Trump.
Who Oz will support if he runs in 2024, and not just because he is the nominee he admitted, after a sharp follow up by Sylvester. Fetterman said he would support Joe Biden, who’s only fault was not going further and doing more. Interesting sidelight: Sylvester disclosed an Emerson College poll that showed in a Trump/Biden contest, Trump got 46% to Biden’s 45% of Pennsylvanians’ vote.
Oz’s challenge was to take on Fetterman without looking like he was bullying someone with a disability. Fetterman aided Oz with his sometimes aggressive behavior.
If you ask me which one looked more senatorial, that the Wizard of Oz.
While half of you bust a gasket, remember I have endorsed the man I playfully call Lurch. But I call ‘em as I see ‘em. Fetterman’s people were right — Oz “won.”
While Oz called Fetterman “extreme” and “radical,” Fetterman replied that all Oz did was lie, and he had 10 mansions, and could not relate to common people.
And, oh yeah, he’s not really from Pennsylvania.
But he’s for the Eagles.