Robin, the Homeless, and the Presidential Debates

I came in too hot last night.

Too god-damned hot.

I didn’t know there would be a Trump supporter in attendance.  I would never have thought my host knew a Trump supporter, but there he was.

I liked him.  He was funny and charming and most important: he laughed at my jokes.  

Other than his peals of laughter whenever I said something funny, the Trump supporter was fairly quiet all night.  He knew he was outnumbered and kept his thoughts on how we can actually make Mexico pay for that wall to himself.

His date was a part-time Portland resident who believes the homeless in Portland should be “bussed somewhere” so our tourists don’t have to look at them.  Other than that she was actually pretty liberal.  Let’s call her Tracy.

Robin, Tracy, and the Homeless Argument

Tracy complained about her recent inability to negotiate the Park Blocks because of the homeless, who neither approached her nor impeded her progress but rather had the ill manners to be smelly.  Also, they sat on the benches and “have a lot of bags.”

Tracy also excoriated the homeless who linger at the beautiful and historic downtown Portland library.  

Now, this is a very real problem Portland city leaders either refuse to address or simply don’t have the brain power to solve.  When I was growing up I loved researching and doing homework at the library.  I would not feel comfortable sending my son into that building today.

So we agreed that’s a problem, but her suggestion was to “take them away” and to bar their access to the library.  I thought about whipping out my pocket Constitution given to me by Mr. Patience and Understanding for Christmas last year, but remembered I’d left it at the last dinner party I attended during which politics were discussed.

I threw it at someone, spilled my 8th glass of wine, and departed in a hurry…let’s just leave it at that. 

I explained to Tracy that in Portland our homeless problem is heavily concentrated in the downtown area and thus much more noticeable and possibly exaggerated as compared to other cities of similar size.

Cities of similar size. Cities of similar size. Cities of similar size.  I really like that alliteration, don’t you?

Then Things Got Interesting…

We paused the debate scrum for dinner, and the conversation about the homeless continued. I suggested that in our favor, Portland has many fine libraries besides that downtown branch where people can go to do library-like things, whatever those things may be.

“Well, why can’t they just bus the homeless people to those libraries?” she pointedly questioned.

You got me there, woman. But can we Uber them instead? Busses are so unreliable, and forget about the cabs in this city.

I suggested Portland has many good qualities that counter our reputation for having a serious homeless person problem. Our beautiful bridges, for example!  In other words, I was trying to change the subject.  Tracy wasn’t having it.

She ignored my praise of our bridges and continued on her rant.  At that point, I suggested we could pay homage to our bridges AND solve the homelessness problem if those damned people would just start throwing themselves off those wonderful bridges.

My nemesis, an adorable woman to be certain, said,

“Why did you say that?  It’s not like I want to set them on fire!”

To which I responded,

“That could actually solve another problem we have in Portland, because heating homes can get very expensive during our brutal sub-50° winters.”

Tracy was not amused.  

Not at all.  

She screwed up her face and pursed her lips in my direction.  I sensed I was about to be reprimanded, so I quickly apologized, told her I think I’m funny, and admitted that not everyone shares my sense of humor.

“I don’t think you’re funny at all,” she hissed.

“I think you’re a pain in the ass.”

My hosts chuckled, agreed wholeheartedly I am indeed a pain in the ass, and looked around nervously. I am an extremely non-violent person but don’t you dare tell me I’m not funny.  Judge Leslie Roberts did that once and it didn’t end well for her. This is a very funny story. Don’t miss it!

At this point you are probably wondering what Mr. Patience and Understanding was doing to calm the waters.  The answer is: nothing.  Why?  

He wasn’t there.  

Why wasn’t he there?

He claims he had a board meeting but in reality I’m convinced he won’t accompany me to any further events at which politics are the focus or could even come up randomly in conversation.  I think he made this decision when we had dinner recently with a former George W. Bush advisor to whom I queried, in the heat of battle,

“Does your mercenary cynicism physically hurt you or is it just a psychological state you cannot escape?”

I don’t think we’ll be seeing that couple again any time soon.


After dinner we resumed the debate and eventually the evening came to a close.  As I pulled away from my kind hosts’ home, I thought to myself,

“Well done, Robin! You haven’t alienated and angered anyone so efficiently and completely since the last time you attended a Right-to-Life rally brandishing your completed abortion punch card!”*

The 7th one is on the house, or didn’t you know?

In closing, ‪I want to make a point about last night’s debate, and all the other debates I’ve seen so far:


Seriously ashamed.

They allowed the candidates to break the rules, shout over each other, and whine about time.

All that is bad, but the greatest sin of all?

These moderators do not hammer the contestants candidates when they refuse to answer the question asked.

Here’s how a Robin DesCamp-moderated debate would go, using a question from last night (and a fucking stupid one at that):


“What’s your biggest weakness?”

John Kasich:

“My great concern is picking someone who cannot do this job.”


“You did not answer the question. Let’s go over the rules I emailed you last week, shall we? If you don’t answer a question you have fouled yourself and the American people. You are sentenced to the penalty box for five minutes. The lovely Debate hostess Ginger will now put duct tape over your mouth until you are eligible to speak again.”


“Can you please remind all of us what the other rules are?”


“Wow – and to think I wanted to like you, John. The first time you refuse to answer a question puts you in the penalty box for five minutes. The second time puts you in the box for ten minutes, but you have to remove your slacks (or skirt) and your underpants (or thong). The third time we will pull you offstage via a giant hook, ala the Gong Show.”


“What’s your biggest weakness?”

Rand Paul:

“I was concerned about an 18 trillion dollar debt.”


“Ginger? Please grab the tape and put Mr. Paul in the box with Mr. Kasich.  Also, please be a love and refill my martini.”


“What’s your
biggest weakness?”

Ted Cruz:

“If you want somebody to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy.”


“You have admitted you are thoroughly unlikeable, though in a somewhat vague fashion.  You have also alluded to the fact you have a face only a mother could love. Or punch. Or accidentally-on-purpose-miscarry-via-throwing-herself-down-the-stairs-in-a-dramatic-Diana-like-fashion.

“However, I applaud your honesty and genuine effort to answer the question asked. You get a cookie. I baked these myself. They are special magic cookies, if you catch my drift.”

Ted Cruz:

“Nom nom nom…hey! These are good!  And the lights suddenly seem extra twinkly!”

And so it would go.  Put me in, Coach!


*This is a joke.  Please keep your baby-killer comments to yourself.  

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. mike

    Re: homeless in Portland. Jesus Christ. I hardly know where to begin in response to the dinner guest you described. There’s obviously no reason to argue with a person such as this; as Bernie Sanders said in a similar situation, “Madam, arguing with you is like arguing with a dining room table” And the following:
    “At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to you. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
    Here’s an idea: if you are concerned about the homeless situation in Portland, do something about it. Don’t wait for Charlie Hales (who I do believe is well-intentioned in this regard) to solve the problem. The next time you see a homeless person standing on a corner in the pouring rain, pull your Beemer over to the curb and hand him/her a buck. Yeah, the money might go toward drugs but it may also go toward a Starbucks to keep warm or a candy bar to fill the hole in the stomach. You could also hand the person a Ziploc bag with a pair of socks and a bottle of water. Or one of your sweaters that just isn’t au courant this season. It’s a great way to clean out your closet.
    And let’s be serious; if you can stand to do so, look the person in the eye and wish them a good day. Because according to the aforementioned Jesus Christ, we’re all in this together.
    Uncle Mike


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