Candidates Maneuver for Edge in Debates
Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/09/ob-mcc.jpgSen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) (WDCpix)
Candidates on both sides agree that it’s high time for that old tradition of conniving to rig presidential debates to favor one side or the other. The two major parties are again maneuvering for even petty advantages to undercut the fair and equal exchange that might help voters make intelligent choices.
Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee, has gone on record to state that he will debate Sen. John McCain, who has clinched the GOP nomination, “one-on-one anytime anywhere — as long as it’s on a basketball court.”
For his part, the Arizona senator declared, “I ask only that any debate be conducted on a 100 percent equal playing field. For example, fair play calls for the taller person — in this case, Sen. Obama — to stand on his knees at the lectern to negate the blatant stature gap.”
Democratic operatives are said to be pushing a rule that both debating candidates be made up to look like Frankenstein’s monster, firmly squelching any potential appeals to racism created by one looking white and the other black. The Republicans, meanwhile, are pressing for a counter-initiative requiring both debaters to wear novelty-store Groucho glasses-and moustache disguises, canceling out Obama’s unearned edge of a more youthful appearance.
Still under discussion is whether the candidates’ wives should be hooded whenever on-camera, so as not to skew voter judgment based on irrelevant opinions of potential first ladies’ relative charm and attractiveness.
McCain’s handlers will almost certainly fail, however, in requesting that their candidate be allowed to debate while lying trussed on a cot in a simulated Vietnamese prison cell. It was they, after all, who earlier nixed the Obama side’s plan to dress up their man to look like his fellow lanky Illinoisian, Abe Lincoln.
Bruce McCall, a humorist, is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. He is the author of “All Meat Looks Like South America: The World of Bruce McCall” and “Zany Afternoons.”