Outcome of the Debates Is - Debatable
Three (or is it four?) televised Republican candidate debates down, umpteen to go.
After the first, I did a little satirical rant, which was greeted online with bazookas. The last two - given the news that folks held debate (a la Super Bowl) parties - made me realize that these intra-GOP events are a genre worth needling.
Bloody but unbowed, I sally forth.
There they stood, all eight contenders, like ducks in a shooting gallery: One impressive black businessman who named his pizza empire after a thug. One wild-eyed white woman whose battle cry is "Defeat Obama," regardless by whom. Six good-looking, fit (except for Newt), conservatively dressed, experienced legislators, all with hair galore and razor-sharp tongues poised to slice-and-dice.
Likely, a member of this posse will cop the presidential ticket-to-ride. But after listening to jarring sparring worthy of Letterman/Leno, I'm thinking their best bet would be to issue only carefully vetted statements - especially (Dr.) Ron Paul, who wedged his foot so squarely in his mouth over lead-ups to 9/11 that he may be billing Medicare for a wheelchair.
Back to Republican Party Night in America. I, a registered dingbat, offer these suggestions for viewing future debates:
- Invite friends from several persuasions, preferably people who can hold their liquor.
- Poll attendees beforehand: Pepperoni or plain? Hot wings or mild? Bud or Amstel Light? Krispy Kreme or Klondike Bars?
- Hit the dollar store for scorecards, buzzers (or horns) and salt shakers because, as Rick Perry's unemployment and job creation figures proved, you'll need many grains.
- Arrange chairs in a semi-circle around the HD flat screen. If you don't have one, invest before you're laid off. There's always the NFL.
- Establish ground rules: No four-letter words (except damn, hell, liar, boob, dork). Absolutely no mooning, rebel yells or hurling chicken bones at the screen.
- Provide pencils and paper for transcribing reactions to compare with the pundits who must, for days, subject each word, twitch, eye-blink, sweat bead and gesture to CSI-worthy scrutiny. Because for Americans still glued to "Two-and-a-Half Men," only the commentary counts.
- Plan some party games, like which moderator is the hottest, who made the most grammatical goofs, who sipped the most water, who uttered "Obama" the most, who wore the biggest wedding ring or the ugliest tie. Construct a Truth-O-Meter. Mount a gong.
- During intermission (or after the second round of beers, whichever comes first) distribute party favors: elephant ears, a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game, phony ballots listing Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber, Dr. Oz, Al Bore, er, Gore.
- Distribute a watch-for list, beginning with how candidates absolutely never, ever answer a simple question with yes or no. "Let me say this" is a common dodge. Ditto "Let me go back to...." Infuriating.
- No hanky-panky. John Edwards and Anthony Weiner play for the Blue team.
- Vote Sarah Palin off the island.
As the lights on the stage dim and frozen smiles thaw, after the Democrats' response and Wolf Blitzer's little jig, attempt a serious discussion on what was learned about the candidates and their views.
Dig deep: Mull over Michele Bachmann's politically (and otherwise) incorrect statement that the HPV vaccine mandated by Rick Perry can cause "mental retardation" - a view challenged by a bioethicist who offered a $10,000 reward for substantiation. Do we want to let her loose on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
If Jon Huntsman is deemed arrogant with his peers, how will he bow when Gordon Brown comes calling? Should Rick Perry be allowed bigger fiscal exaggerations than Mitt Romney just because Texas is 10 times larger than Romney's Massachusetts? And, most important, who will next clippety-clop into the sunset after Tim Pawlenty?
I hear Rick Santorum yelling, "Wait up, cowboy!"
My only regret is that the Democrats won't have their turn. As I recall from 2008, they were just as nasty, just as fun. We'll have to wait a whole year for the Republican nominee and President Obama to go at it.
Time for coffee and cake! I've donned the sequined flak jacket I wore to Kim Kardashian's wedding. So fire away.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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