Debate, Declaim, Debacle

By DAVID BROOKS

New York Times

October 16, 2004

SCHIEFFER And our first question goes to Senator Kerry. Sir, your spending plans will cost over a trillion dollars. Your combined tax plans will cost $500 billion. How are you going to balance the budget?

KERRY Bob, I'm glad you asked me that question, but before I dodge it I'd like to thank you for moderating this debate, I'd like to thank Arizona State University for being such wonderful hosts and I'd like to thank Dick Cheney's daughter for being a lesbian - in case anybody didn't know.

Bob, as you know, this nation is on the brink of an apocalyptic catastrophe. Civilization as we know it is hanging on by a thread. Our culture has collapsed, our economy is in tatters, the human spirit is extinguished, children never laugh, God is dead, and families like Dick Cheney's are ashamed of their daughters, one of whom is a lesbian. All of this is because of George Bush.

Did you know that right here in Arizona the average share of the national debt on a per capita basis is rising faster than the inverse of the median lost wages ratio of the typical swing voter in Ohio, Missouri and Florida combined?

Bob, when I'm president, we're going to have a president as gloomy as this country should be. But the difference is that I have a plan to balance the budget. In fact I have seven plans. Seven and a half if you count the one I was working on in the limo, not even counting subclauses. When I'm president, our country is going to marry a really rich country, which will pay for everything. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER Mr. President?

BUSH You need a plan. I know that. I'm president. I wake up every day looking for a plan. In fact, I supported Mitch McConnell's plan. But my opponent voted to raise taxes 1,500 gazillion bazillion times. He even voted for some of my budgets, which have created deficits as far as the eye can see! He's a liberal!

The first thing we need to do is cut back. I'm not going to have a flu shot this year. I'm not even going to take a Tylenol. I'm going to have a root canal right here on this stage without Novocain. But we also need to declare an international war on deficits.

I'm excited about 19-year-old girls in Afghanistan who are voting in favor of the line-item veto for the first time ever. I'm excited about the millions of Iraqis who have been liberated from Saddam's Hussein's trial lawyers and their frivolous lawsuits.

SCHIEFFER According to the prearranged rules of this debate, each candidate will now have two minutes to spew forth sentimental blather in order to connect with the American people.

KERRY Thank you Bob. I'm a Catholic. I was an altar boy. In Nativity plays I was usually cast as one of the posts holding up the manger. I know that a lot of people are tired of politicians who just tell them what they want to hear. America, I want to look you in the eye and pledge I will never pander to you.

Spirituality is important to me. I've always felt that we humans are insignificant maggots scuttling across the muck of the universe, and that life itself is just a meaningless moment of agony between the suffocating stench of the womb and the foul decay of the grave.

SCHIEFFER Thanks for that uplifting message. Mr. President?

BUSH America, we've been through a lot together. Imagine how bad things would be if I'd made any mistakes. But we've come through it.

We haven't enforced the Dred Scott decision. And what about my timber company? Can you believe the networks? Oh, never mind. Do you want some wood? How late does this go, anyway? I'm losing it.

SCHIEFFER As I was driving in tonight one thing occurred to me: All three of us are surrounded by strong women. What the hell are we doing up here? Why aren't they running the country?

KERRY Bob, it's true that I am married. She's my second wife, to be precise. Can't recall her name at the moment, but she's fully funded. And I've got two beautiful daughters. Heterosexuals, both of them.

I want to tell you about my family unit and what it means to me. We're in the 79th percentile in most demographic categories. Our compatibility fitness score is within the standard deviation for median households worldwide. ...