A Debate With Mr. Electability

by Andrew Hanauer | 2/6/04 6:00am

Sometime in the not so distant future . . .

Jim Lehrer: Hello, my name is Jim Lehrer, and welcome to the 2004 Presidential Debate between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry. We will begin with opening statements. President Bush, you won the rock-paper-scissors contest backstage, so you may go first.

George Bush: Thank you, Jim. We are fighting a war against terrorists. 9/11. 9/11. 9/11. Thank you.

JL: Senator Kerry?

John Kerry: Thank you, Jim. I served in Vietnam. Got some medals. Vietnam. Vietnam. Vietnam. Thank you.

JL: Our first question comes from the National Media. Go ahead.

National Media: Thank you. Senator Kerry, isn't it true that you're a rich, arrogant, out-of-touch Massachusetts liberal who can't connect with ordinary Americans and their problems?

JK: I object to that. I served on a commission in Washington that was designed exclusively to look into the problems of ordinary Americans. That commission, in fact, was instrumental in organizing the committee to organize the commission on poor people, of which I served as a chair. If President Bush wants to take this fight to me on the issue of ordinary Americans, I have three words to say that he might understand. Bring. It. On.

GB: Oh, it's been brung.

JL: Ok, our next question comes from . . .

NM: Wait! We have another question for Senator Kerry. Are you going to raise our taxes?

JK: No. And I'm going to give your kids free college, and free health care and we're going to fully fund every program this president has failed to fully fund, including the ones where I failed to show up to vote to fully fund it.

JL: The next question is from an ordinary American. Go ahead, don't be scared, you can ask our President a question.

Bob: Thanks. Mr. President, why does our economy suck? And why do you keep saying our economy is getting better, even when I still don't have a job? And my kids still don't have health insurance? And you still haven't funded No Child Left Behind, which means my local property taxes are going to keep going up, or else my child is going to have to sit on the floor at school because they can't afford desks?

GB: 9/11.

JK: I have an answer for you, Bob. This president is captive to the special interests. I will lead the fight to change this, just as I led the fight in Vietnam. I have a message for the special interests in Washington. We're coming, you're going, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Bob: But Senator Kerry, you've taken more special interest money than any other United States Senator, and that includes like Trent Lott and stuff. That's so hypocritical. I think I'll vote for Nader.

JL: Ok, now President Bush can ask Senator Kerry a question. Go ahead, Mr. President.

GB: Thanks, Jim. Senator Tax, er, I mean, Senator Liberal. You've criticized the war in Iraq. SO WHY DID YOU VOTE FOR IT? Wait, no, don't answer, that's ok. I got another zinger for ya'. You criticize No Child Left Behind, my compassionate educating proposal. But you voted for that one too. And then you said, well, Dubya didn't fund it. Well guess what, Dubya don't fund things, Congress does. And when you had a chance to vote on whether or not to fully fund it, you were off on a yacht or something. But wait, I got another one. You criticize the Medicare bill I passed to get the old folks their medicines. But guess who missed 36 of the 38 votes on the bill, including final passage? Don't answer that either, that was a rhetorical question. Bet you didn't know I could say "rhetorical," did ya. Well I can. And I may be the worst president in the history of the United States of America, but even I know how hypocritical you are. They have a saying down in Texas about people like you: all hat and no cattle.

JK: I object to that. I led the fight to ensure that there was an equal amount of hat and cattle. I ran a commission that studied the effects that commissions have on the agriculture of Texas, and I can tell you, that I, Senator John F. Kerry, I, I, I, Senator Kerry Senator Kerry Senator Kerry, will lead the fight . . .

Today . . .

This from former Governor Howard Dean: "This isn't about electing me president, it's about changing this country. I was in Manchester the other day, and a man yelled out 'We believe in you, Howard!' And I replied, 'I hate to rebuke an enthusiastic supporter, but it's not me I want you to believe in, it's you. The biggest lie that people like me tell people like you at election time is that if you vote for me, I'll solve all your problems. The truth is, the power to change this country lies not in my hands, but in yours."

Perhaps it is best summarized by recent letter to the editor in a New Hampshire newspaper: "You know the Democratic Party is in trouble when instead of just voting for the best candidate, its voters vote for the candidate they think other voters might think is the best candidate."