Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The First Presidential Debate of 2008

Here's a little story from the last election:

"Good evening. I'm Gwen Ifill. Please join me, along with my colleague, Ray Suarez, along with syndicated columnist, Mark Shields, and David Brooks of the New York Times, in this special edition of The News Hour's coverage of the first presidential debate of the two thousand and eight election, at the Gertrude C Ford Center of the Performing Arts, located on the campus of the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss. Ray, I think it's safe to say that this is one of the most anticipated events of the campaign season."
"It certainly is, Gwen. Over fifty million viewers are expected to watch tonight's clash between Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama, and Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for President of the United States."
"Wow. Thanks Ray. We are proud that our own Jim Lehrer of the News Hour is moderating this historic event. Ray, as we wait for the candidates to arrive, what can you tell us of the debate's setting?"
"Sure Gwen. By the way, congratulations are in order for your being chosen as the moderator of next weeks Vice Presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin."
"Thank you, Ray."
"You're very welcome, Gwen. I sure would like to moderate one of those someday."
"I'm sure you'll get your chance, Ray."
"Someday Ray. Now what about Ole Miss?"
"The University of Mississippi, located near the city of Oxford, was the first in the state to be chartered as a public University. Over it's one hundred and sixty year history, it was one of the first in the south to admit women, the first to hire females on it's faculty, and the first to transfer a chimpanzee's heart into a man. During the Civil War, it's School of Medicine treated both Union and Confederate soldiers, especially after the infamous Battle of Shiloh, the bloodiest battle of the war up to the time. Among it's illustrious alumni are Senator McCain's own grandfather, the Noble winning novelist, William Faulkner, three Miss Americas, and DeForest Kelley, Doctor "Bones" McCoy, of the original, and in my estimation the best, Star Trek series. The University legally grows marijuana for the United States government, which branch was not specified, and has the largest collection of Blues music archives in the nation, helping it to achieve the status of the second biggest party school listed by the Princeton Review."
"Well, that was so interesting, Ray. Now let me turn to our esteemed commentators, Mark Shields and David Brooks. What's your take on tonight's debate? What do the candidates stand to win or lose? Mark?"
"Well Gwen, obviously tonight presents the chance for both candidates to present their case before the entire nation, and for the nation to be able to contrast between the two. This is the first direct confrontation between the nominees, and it will be interesting to see the interchange between the calm, confident style of Senator Obama, and the angry, disgruntled, and desperate ramblings of John McCain."
"Thank you, Mark. David?"
"Well I certainly wouldn't characterize John McCain as..."
"Thank you. Mark, what does Barack Obama stand to win tonight?"
"Basically, Gwen, the Presidency. I think that when the nation understands that Senator Obama is the authentic vehicle of change for Washington, the nation, and the world, after eight years of the current administration's complete record of incompetence, throwing the nation into an unnecessary war, the destruction of the middle class of America, and how shall I put this delicately, the total raping of the US treasury and thorough screwing of the American taxpayer, sending the nation into an unprecedented economic collapse, and that John McCain is just a continuation of those same reckless policies, it will be ready to elect the Senator from Illinois, the first African American President of the United States of America. A truly historic event, Gwen."
"Thank you, Mark, for that very enlightening remark. David, would you care to respond?"
"I certainly would! You can't..."
"Just a moment, David... Okay, I'm getting word now that the candidates are about to come on stage..."
"Don't I get a chance to talk!?"
"I'm sorry, David, we've run out of time, and quite frankly, I've never really liked you. Now let me turn it over to Jim Lehrer, at the Gertrude C Ford Center for the Performing Arts, on the campus of the University of Mississippi, the first Presidential debate of two thousand and eight."
The main hall was filled to capacity. Over twelve hundred and fifty enthusiastic audience members were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the two Senators. The dabate's moderator cleared his throat and spoke to the camera.
"Good evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. Welcome to the first Presidential debate of two thousand and eight."
The audience broke out into delighted applause. Shouts of "Go Jim baby!" and "Bring it on," were declared.
"We are at the Gertrude C Ford Center of the Performing Arts, on the campus of the University of Mississippi."
More shouts and applause.
"Tonight's event is sponsored by the Commission of Presidential Debate, and Viagra, the nation's most trusted provider for male enhancement. Please remember, call your doctor if you experience an erection lasting more than four hours."
A few hearty guffaws, outright laughs, giggles, whistles, and shouts.
"And now it is my pleasure to introduce the two candidates for President of the United States, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain."
The hall exploded with applause as the two men entered from different sides of the stage. They shook hands, then took their positions behind their respective podiums. Each looked confident and assertive. When the applause died down sufficiently, Mr. Lehrer continued.
"Good evening, Senators. As you know tonight's debate will focus on foreign policy and national security issues. Senator Obama, you won the coin toss, so the first question will be yours. During the last Presidential election, both candidates agreed that the largest threat to this nation was nuclear proliferation, especially the threat that terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon and use it against this country. Do you believe this is still true, and as President, what would you do to solve the problem?"
"Thank you, Jim," Senator Obama answered, "and first I would like to thank the Commission of Presidential Debate, and our, ah, corporate sponsors for setting up this debate, and the University of Mississippi for hosting us."
Applause as the name of the University was mentioned. The Senator continued.
"In answer to your very important question, Jim, yes, I do believe the gravest threat to the American people is the threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon, and the spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes. In the past I have taken bipartisan action to secure nuclear weapons and materials by joining with Senator Dick Lugar in passing a law to help the United States and our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world, and with Senator Chuck Hagel to introduce a bill that seeks to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons. As President I will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within four years. I will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material. I will strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries that break the rules like North Korea and Iran will automatically face strong international sanctions. Finally, some suggest that we should threaten to drop nuclear bombs in terrorists training camps. I believe that we must talk openly about nuclear weapons, because the best way to keep America safe is not to threaten terrorists with nuclear weapons, it's to keep nuclear weapons away from terrorists!"
Polite applause greeted this pronouncement. The candidate's wife, Michelle was one of the few who clapped wildly. Senator Obama seemed a little taken aback at the lack of response and fiddled with his notes.
"Senator McCain, the same question."
"Thank you, Jim. Like Senator Obama I would like to thank our sponsors, the Commission of Presidential debate and our corporate friend, although I myself have never needed to use their fine product. And this great institution, the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, from which my own grandfather, Admiral John Sydney McCain graduated."
Wild applause from the audience, many of which were currently students of the University.
McCain looked directly into the camera. "My friends, and I do mean you, my friends, I've been asked a very important question about nuclear weapon proliferation, which I have thought long and hard upon for many years. Even as I sat in my little cell in North Vietnam in solitary confinement. I was not, however, allowed back then to discuss this issue with my fellow prisoners, as communication between us was not allowed. Did I mention that the cell was little? I'd say it was about ten by ten. The door was solid. There were no windows. The only ventilation came from two small holes at the top of the ceiling, about six inches by four inches. The roof was tin and it got hot as hell in there during the long, hot, humid, summer days. I was in that room for more than two years, so yes Jim, I had a lot of time to think about nuclear proliferation throughout the world, not like my honorable opponent (At which point the Senator brought his fist to his mouth and coughed loudly, many in the audience, in the hall and at home watching on television, thought they heard the word "Muslim," at the same time), Senator Barack Obama."
The room erupted in loud applause, shouting and whistles. Senator McCain smiled at this response. Senator Obama seemed a bit perturbed.
Jim Lehrer continued, "Senator Obama?"
"Yes Jim."
"The two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken a serious toll upon our military forces. As President, what would you do to strengthen the military?"
"As President, Jim, I would rebuild our forces. But we must not simply recreate the military of the Cold War era. I believe we must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply; invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, and human intelligence and other needed counterinsurgency and stabilization skill sets; and create a more robust capacity to train, equip, and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats. I want to increase the size of the army by sixty five thousand soldiers, and the Marines by twenty seven thousand troops. I will create a Military Families Advisory Board to provide a conduit for military families' concerns to be brought to the attention of senior policymakers and the public. And I vow to end the Bush administration's stop-loss policy and establish predictability in deployments so that active duty and reserves know what they can and must expect!"
Again, only polite applause greeted this bold pronouncement. Even Michelle Obama clapping, sitting in the first row of the audience, seemed a bit less enthusiastic as she glanced around the hall.
"Senator McCain?"
"Yes, Jim, as I sat in my little, hot cell, I had plenty of time to think about the strength of our military forces too. Lot's of time, Jim. There wasn't anything else to do! I've alway been proud of our fighting men and women in uniform, and was honored to be a member, not like my opponent (Once again he brought his hand to his mouth and coughed out the words, "secret terrorist"), Senator Barack Obama. Even as I was being systematically tortured by the Vietnamize, I was proud, so very very proud, and took comfort in being a member of the finest military in the world, unlike my fine adversary (Again, the coughing motion, and the word "no experience"), my friend, Barack Obama."
The room again erupted in wild, enthusiastic applause. For a full ninety seconds the debate could not proceed. Senator McCain smiled broadly and waved to his adoring fans. Senator Obama, on the other hand, was clearly looking a bit angry. The moderator had to ask the crowd to calm themselves.
"Thank you. Now, Senator Obama, what are your views about bipartisanship and openness as far as foreign policy is concerned?"
"Jim, under the Bush administration, of which my esteemed opponent (Senator Obama now brought his own hand to his mouth and coughed out the word, "old"), John McCain has voted with over ninety percent of the time, foreign policy has been used as a political wedge issue to divide us, not as a cause to bring America together. And it is no coincidence that one of the most secretive administrations in history, of which my friend (again the coughing motion, "CRS,"), Senator John McCain, was a full partner in, has pursued policies that have been disastrous for the American people. I strongly believe that our foreign policy is stronger when Americans are united, and the government is open and candid with the American people, a policy my colleague (cough, "senile"), John McCain does not agree with."
Polite applause. The audience looked on expectantly for Senator McCain's response.
"Senator McCain?"
"You know Jim, the winds in Vietnam are hot and moist..."
At this point a remarkable event occurred. Video tape of said event could hardly capture what actually happened. The over excited, and one could say, "bug-nut" crowd exploded into over enthusiastic applause, shouting and screaming. Madly appreciative of their favored candidate, the crowd rushed the stage, overwhelming the Secret Service contingent set there to protect the two candidates. John McCain was hoisted upon the shoulders of several large student bodies and was paraded around the room. Senator Obama, meanwhile was rushed out of the hall, along with his family, by what remained of the Secret Service.
It was later suspected, but not proven, that the RNC had somehow subverted the event's ticket lottery system, and packed the audience with members ushered in from the states of Alaska, Texas, and Idaho. Asked about this possibility, the RNC chairman, Mike Duncan, declared, "Preposterous! What has happened is merely a display of the true will of the American people."
As for Senator McCain, he was found two days later in the Sigma Chi fraternity house, in a somewhat inebriated condition, dressed in a raccoon costume, holding onto what looked like several "homemade" cigarettes. He was quickly given a hot shower and ushered off by the Secret Service to a campaign fund raiser in Ballstown, Indiana, along with his wife Cindy, who it seems had won an impromptu beauty contest at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Both would later deny these events transpired, despite abundant proof to the contrary. However, the Secret Service had been so shamed by losing their charges, they readily backed up the couples claim, and with the bountiful help of the corporate media, the incident was soon forgotten.

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