Friday, August 22, 2008

The Presidential Decathlon

For two weeks, millions of Americans have been glued to their TV sets watching the world’s best athletes compete for gold. But all that will end soon. What’s a sports-addicted nation to do? Luckily, there’s one more unofficial Olympic competition to watch: the Presidential decathlon which consists of the following ten gruelling events:

Watch as the two candidates engage in a non-debate debate. Questions are asked and even occasionally answered but no one has to actually take a stance on the issues. It’s difficult to know who really wins a pseudo-debate but so long as a candidate isn’t hit with a "knockout" blow, he definitely won’t lose.

It used to be that candidates had to seek and obtain the approval of one or more special interest groups. Now, however, the endorsement event is more about getting and sometimes even disavowing endorsements from religious leaders.

Sliming by proxy
Competitors will be judged on their ability to trash their opponent without really seeming to be involved. The gold standard for this event is the outstanding performance of George W. Bush’s surrogates four years ago with their hands-down-winner "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth."

Flip flopping
This is the political equivalent of the gymnastics competition. Every candidate will do one or more flips. The question is will any of these flips result in a big time flop. The trick for competitors is to make their flips look like minor shifts or to deny that they flipped at all.

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll
This tripartite event has tripped up more than one candidate. The trick is to come clean but not too clean. Sexual indiscretions? Sure, but they took place long ago. Drug use? Yes, but nothing too potent and nothing after age 25. As for rock ‘n roll, do not attempt this unless you’re under 50 and can actually sing, dance or play a pop instrument.

This event can end in tragedy when the resulting photo has not been completely thought out. Candidates would do well to avoid such disasters as "Kerry on windsurfer" and "Dukakis in tank."

Coaches work with their charges for months to avoid any major verbal gaffes. Claiming Iraq shares a border with Pakistan may not be fatal but declaring communist-ruled Poland free certainly was.

Competitors do whatever it takes to outperform their rival in acquiring political donations even if it means turning down matching federal funds. After all, the more money a candidate has, the better he can perform in the "sliming by proxy" competition.

An ongoing event wherein the media tries to nail the candidates with a "gotcha" moment. This can involve a recorded statement about bitter folks clinging to their guns and religion or a temper-fuelled nasty swipe at one’s own wife.

Theoretically the deciding factor in any Presidential decathlon, ironically votes are the least important element. After all, most states are already decided before the voting even begins. And those few that aren’t get decided by everyone but the voters.

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