Formats for the 2012 Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates.
First Presidential Debate
(Single Moderator Format)
The moderator will introduce himself, introduce the candidates, and caution the audience not to cheer, boo, or otherwise react in ways to be expected from ordinary human beings watching a contest on which the fate of billions depends.
First Segment: Domestic Economic Issues
The moderator will pose identical questions to each candidate about energy policy, infrastructure decay, and education spending. The candidates will respond with their positions on health care.
Second Segment: Domestic Social Issues
The moderator will instruct each candidate to imagine that his recently married lesbian daughter is pregnant with the child of the daughter’s wife’s third cousin, a student from Somalia who has illegally overstayed his visa. Each candidate will have two minutes to explain which subjects he will teach when his grandchild commences homeschooling.
Third Segment: Make Believe, Part I (Economic Policy)
The candidates will affirm their view that the President of the United States is personally in charge of the country’s $15 trillion dollar economy and controls the $70 trillion world economy in which it functions. Each candidate will then state the rate of unemployment (to the third decimal place) his policies would yield on the 23rd day of his administration, as well as the exact rate of exchange between the dollar and the Malaysian ringgit on November 5, 2014, in the event his opponent is elected.
Fourth Segment: Make Believe, Part II (Foreign Policy)
The moderator will remind the audience that the President of the United States controls the fate of all nations, irrespective of those nations’ unique histories, cultures, and economies. Each candidate will have ten minutes to describe precisely how multiparty democracy will function in North Korea during the third week of his term.
Each candidate will have two minutes, and be limited to a single hand puppet.
Second Presidential Debate
The candidates will be introduced by a pre-recorded announcement from Morgan Freeman.
The first guy goes first. The second guy goes second. The first guy asks the second guy a question, which the second guy doesn’t really answer. The second guy asks the first guy a question, which he sort of answers, but not really. The second guy talks, and the first guy talks about the same thing. The second guy talks about health care. The first guy says he wasn’t going to talk about health care, he thought they’d covered it pretty good in the first debate, but now he has to, because of the second guy. The first guy talks, and the second guy interrupts him, and the first guy asks him to cut it out. The second guy talks, and first guy sighs audibly, and the second guy tells him to knock it off. The first guy says something snarky, and the second guy pretends to be offended. The second guy does a kind of “gotcha” thing, and the first guy says it isn’t, really, a “gotcha” thing, if you think about it. The first guy and the second guy agree that they could go on, but really don’t want to miss the second quarter of the Packers game.
Vice Presidential Debate
The Vice Presidential debate will take place during the third commercial break in the rebroadcast of the second episode of season 5 of Breaking Bad. Each candidate will have 45 seconds to complete the following sentence: “During my summer vacation, I…”
Third Presidential Debate
(Town Hall Format)
The moderator will caution the audience to read only their pre-approved questions, introduce the candidates, and remind them if they haven’t already done so to remove the price tags on their previously unworn plaid flannel shirts.
First Segment: Class Resentment
Each candidate will address questions about the pernicious role of East Coast elites in our nation’s public life. By agreement of the campaigns, the candidate with two advanced degrees from Harvard will answer first, followed by the candidate with only one.
Second Segment: Agricultural Policy
Each candidate will have five minutes to recount his fifth grade visit to a working farm. Each candidate may issue no more than two challenges on the authenticity of any animal sounds his opponent makes.
Third Segment: Tweeting
Each candidate will be permitted to send up to three tweets on how he thinks the debate is going so far.
Fourth Segment: Immigration Policy, Animal Rights, Arab Spring
Candidates will have thirty seconds to stare blankly at questioners.
Fifth Segment: Naked Pandering
The candidates will flip a coin for the right to respond to a question posed by a 61-year-old Latino small business owner or a 23-year-old pregnant Teamster.
Sixth Segment: Concluding Remarks
Each candidate will introduce the lawyers that will represent him in challenging the election results in North Carolina. The lawyers will remain after the conclusion of the debate to answer questions from the audience and distribute business cards.
SUGGESTED READSList: Free Zingers for George W. Bush to Use During His Debates with John Kerry
by Ryan Boudinot (7/23/2004)
What We Need is a Smaller Government
by Pete Reynolds (3/22/2012)
Non-Essential Mnemonics: “Greetings, viewers. Tonight’s senatorial debate will cover lots of topics neither candidate knows much about: nationalized healthcare, nonprofit finance, nanotechnology, jihadists…”
by Kent Woodyard (11/4/2014)
RECENTLYThe Pagan Origins of Valentine’s Day
by Kathryn Doyle (2/12/2016)
List: Some (More) Things That are Worse Than Being Alone on Valentine’s Day
by Ali Garfinkel (2/12/2016)
Inside Witnesses: One Crime’s Many Narratives: Chris Loses Kevin Outside
by Marti Jonjak (2/12/2016)
POPULARList: Alternatives to Resting Bitch Face
by Susan Harlan (1/25/2016)
Jamie and Jeff’s Note to the Babysitter
by Paul William Davies (1/13/2016)
Eight Excuses I Have Told My Son to Use for His Failure to Hand in English Homework, Excuses I Have Learned are Acceptable During a Thirty-Year Career in Journalism, Books, and Film
by Nick Hornby (2/5/2016)