How to make the debate interesting…

Dear Supporter,

President Bush’s handlers have ferociously negotiated every last detail of formats for the presidential debates. Their extreme attention to detail isn’t a product of Bush’s subpar debate skills. On the contrary, he’s quite good – especially when the format doesn’t allow for suitable follow-up from an opponent or moderator to refute all his super-spun answers. By now, we all know that President Bush can do nothing if not stick to a script with the best of them.

But President Bush’s script hasn’t included real answers to real problems facing real Americans – and it’s time to demand them from him. With that in mind here’s a handy primer to use for scoring the debates while watching from home. It’s an easy game to play, but the total score might make soccer look like a high scoring affair. Here’s how it works: When President Bush does any of the following, add one point.

— Acknowledges the true extent of the mess in Iraq.
— Acknowledges that the “Mission Accomplished” banner and “Bring ’em on” comment were big mistakes.
— Presents a plan to fix the mess in Iraq.
— Explains how his current troop rotation program is sustainable, despite GAO estimates.
— Presents a plan for dealing with North Korea.
— Explains how Halliburton rose from the 22nd-largest military contractor in 2000 to seventh in 2003.
— Explains why we haven’t found the source of the Valerie Plame leak.
— Explains why we haven’t found Osama bin Laden.
— Mentions Osama bin Laden.
— Offers a full explanation for the WMD argument.
— Offers a full apology for the WMD argument (this is worth double).
— Offers a full apology for Abu Ghraib.
— Unveils a plan for rebuilding America’s stature and respect throughout the world.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, here’s a second list: Whenever President Bush does any of these things, subtract one point:

— Uses the phrase “stay the course.”
— Bad-mouths our traditional allies (bonus points if he specifically mentions France).
— Calls John Kerry a flip-flopper.

— [Calls Kerry “my opponent” rather than by name and title]
— Calls his opponents weak.
— Mentions “the lessons of September the 11th”
— Talks of supporting the troops without mentioning shortages of armored Humvees, clean water and body armor [or reduced combat pay].
— Uses the phrase “Coalition of the Willing.”
— Utters any of the following: thugs, assassins, madman.

That’s it, now you have a ready-made guide to the debate proceedings for tomorrow night. As you can see, you’ll probably end up in red numbers – just like the Bush budget.

Above all else, remember this:

George W. Bush is the incumbent, so it’s up to him to answer all of the public’s questions about his failed policies. He hasn’t so far – here’s guessing he won’t tomorrow night, either.

We’ll be back to you on Friday with our post-debate analysis.


Mike Lux


If need be, add drinking to the mix instead of points. Doing so may lead to something stupid that gets recited on a blog somewhere.

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