Celia Rivenbark

From the Belle Tower | Turn debates into ‘graphicons’

Since some of the Republican candidates seem to be having trouble with behaving decently and civilly to one another during the debates, why not force Trump, Cruz, Rubio and whoever’s still standing by the time you read this, to respond to every question posed by the moderator with one of Facebook’s new “graphicons”?

No dialog. No nastiness. No crazy accusations. No “pants-on-fire” fabrications. No inflammatory rhetoric and a complete absence of “your mama’s.” Instead, candidates would be ordered to limit their responses to Facebook’s familiar “like” (thumbs up) or to use the brand new symbols: love (white heart on red background), angry (mean face with open mouth and scrunched eyebrows), haha (laughing face), sad (wonk wonk face with single tear), and wow! (surprised face).

Moderators could instruct the candidates to press only one, just like ringing in on “Jeopardy!” and the symbol would then hover over their heads for a few seconds before disappearing like a Snapchat.

It would make reporting easy. Journalists could simply tally the graphicons at the end of the debate.

Wolf Blitzer: “Well, what’s the score tonight, Anderson?”

Anderson Cooper: “That’s easy, Wolf. It looks like Cruz had 25 angry’s, two wow’s and one haha. Trump had 47 angry’s and two haha’s and Rubio had six haha’s, 18 angry’s and 45 wows…”

Wolf: “That is certainly very revealing.”

Anderson: “No, not really.”

Wolf: “Yeah, I know.”

I realize that this is a drastic suggestion but it’s better than the current debate format which has resulted in way too little solid policy discussion and way too much, well, nanny nanny boo boo.

At first, it was a guilty pleasure to watch the lowbrow slugfests.

They are at once irresistible and terrible for you, like fried cheesecake at the county fair or any episode of “Real Housewives of the Potomac.”

The graphicon debate format would end all of the drinking games inspired by the current format which can best be described as “pit bulls fresh off the chain at the My Dreams Done Died Trailer Home Park.”

Perhaps this will even save a few livers along the way. It’s not even fun to take a shot of likker “every time Trump makes fun of Rubio sweating when the accuser is a man who wears hair pudding on his head.

Settle down. I can say that sort of stuff. I’m not running for leader of the free world. I don’t have to have “decorum,” “integrity” or even, this just in, “enough money to get out of this airport parking lot.”

Of course, the most compelling reason to switch to a format in which the brat pack isn’t allowed to speak is based on wisdom found in Proverbs (not “two Timothy” as devout Bible scholar Trump might put it) which basically says it’s better to keep your mouth closed and risk people thinking you’re an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt.

I really think this could work. Like. Haha. Wow.

Celia Rivenbark is the New York Times best-selling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

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