Unfortunately I Identify With This Photo of Tom Steyer

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Presidential Primary Debate In Des Moines, Iowa
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Eric Reads The News is a daily humor column which skewers politics, pop culture, celebrity, shade, and schadenfreude.
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After the 495th Democratic candidate debate of this election cycle, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders exchanged some seemingly terse words before parting ways. This comes after reports surfaced that years ago Sanders told Warren that he didn't think a woman could win the presidency. Warren confirmed the story but reiterated her respect for their relationship; Sanders denied the story. So now the election has pivoted to being an episode of Cold Case and I'm very excited about that because I love desaturated flashbacks with weird wig choices!

Despite what an army of bots who double as body language experts may suggest, it's actually unclear if the exchange was fiery or not. Sure, Sanders was gesticulating sharply but, well, have you seen Bernie Sanders? That's how the man does everything. Bernie Sanders ordering a plate of eggs and a coffee at a diner looks, at a distance, like he's conducting "Rite of Spring." So, talk of a "feud" between the two seems blatantly disingenuous and divisive. Even if there was an actual feud, it seems clear that Warren would have already pulled down her binder marked "Plans for Feuds, Duels, Skirmishes, and Brouhahas."

So, in the end, what we have is a photo of two people speaking to each other at the climax of an episode of Cold Case. Oh, and also Tom Steyer was there.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Presidential Primary Debate In Des Moines, Iowa
Scott OlsonGetty Images

Tom Steyer literally inserting himself between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is so apt a visual metaphor that no editor would let it stay. He's just looking back and forth like he's at Wimbledon and they do not even acknowledge his presence. Literally, this does not concern you Tom. I'm speaking of both the conflict at the moment and the presidency in general. Why are you standing so close, watching the two of them like they're a TV show?

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Presidential Primary Debate In Des Moines, Iowa
Scott OlsonGetty Images
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US-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE-POLITICS
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I cannot stop screaming at these photos. Even though I officially don't have any idea who Tom Steyer is, I deeply identify with these photos. This is me in literally every situation: not sure why I'm there, failing to find a graceful way to exit, wondering if perhaps it would help to hear my opinion even though I absolutely don't know what's going on. This is that thing when you go over to a couple's house for dinner but you came too early and they're bickering in the kitchen so you just stand in the living room holding a bottle of wine and pretending to be very interested in their succulents.

You can almost hear his internal monologue which is surely a collection of half-uttered phrases like "Hmm" "I see" "Ah, interesting" "If I can just inter—" Tom Steyer has big "Sorry, wrong office" energy. Which again, I mean literally, but also as a heavy-handed metaphor that would not make the final draft in anything better than our present reality.

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Tom, what are you doing, Tom? Mind your own beeswax, Tom. Use your billions to save the bees, Tom. This is an A and B conversation, Tom, so C your way out. Et cetera.

I'm obsessed with this. Who sees the kind of news day the two senators had, notices Bernie's wild gesticulation, and thinks "What this needs a little bit of me"? What's Tom going to do: fund Doc Brown's research, bankroll his time-traveling car, go back to the moment in question, and stand too close to them once again, not doing anything? Now that's a Cold Case twist I'd like to see.

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