How Shakira Could Have Saved Tonight’s Debate

What tonight’s presidential debate could have been if only the Commission on Presidential Debates had taken this proposal I sent them last month seriously…

September 1, 2012

Dear Commission on Presidential Debates,

If there is a single lesson from the Republican primary debates – beyond that Newt Gingrich can be profoundly offended by any question – it’s that debates can grow tiresome after a point, even when you have the added entertainment that is Ron Paul.

The good news: With the presidential debates just around the corner, we have the opportunity to set things right. I’m all for one or two “normal” debates. But once every last platitude and non-answer has been muttered, it only makes sense to move on to a more interesting format, a format that would draw a massive TV audience, reveal entirely new things about the candidates, and engage the American populace like nothing before.

The secret to a great debate is really no secret at all. We Americans know what we like to watch. And what we like to watch are deeply-twisted reality TV competitions.

The “reality debate” will start with a round of “Iron Legislator”: Each candidate will be given the same set of national dilemmas and will then have two minutes to come up with a piece of legislation that solves all the problems at once.

Not exciting enough? Did I mention that the candidates will also be standing in a glass tank full of cow intestines? Or that host Howie Mandel will be pouring buckets of live centipedes into the tank at 30-second intervals?
How Shakira Could Have Saved Tonight's Debate

Once the final buzzer has sounded, and the audience members have rated the legislation as either Fail, Ew!, OMG, Cute, or Win, the debate will move on to the song and dance competition. Each candidate will have four minutes to both compose an original score to an America-themed song and to choreograph an accompanying dance routine. The song and dance routines will then be performed as duets with the celebrity of the candidate’s choice. Romney, for example, might choose Shakira to help with the Latino vote, and then perform an up-tempo version of “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

At this point, the debate will pause so that the candidates can take Twitter questions, which will be read aloud on YouTube videos that have been posted on Facebook pages and linked to from Pinterest boards. This segment will add no value to the event itself, but will allow the network airing the debate to demonstrate that it gets social media.

Next the auditorium’s giant screens will come down for the pre-taped “Candidate Swap” segment. Each candidate will spend the week before the debate living with the family of the other. Obama will spend his week riding horses with Ann Romney and talking about the 2002 Winter Olympics. Mitt will move into the White House and, in addition to helping out with Sasha and Malia, will actually run the country for a week. To heighten the drama, each candidate will also be followed around by a large-boned British nanny, who will angrily critique everything they do.

From there we’ll return to the live debate and move directly into the weight loss round, which will allow each candidate to demonstrate his seriousness about America’s health challenges. Obama and Romney will be weighed on digital scales down to the hundredth of an ounce and then have four minutes to run wild through the auditorium in an effort to lose as much body fat as possible.

The catch? In the midst of their fat burning, the candidates will also have to identify the homosexuals in the audience. For Romney this will be a chance to demonstrate his conservative bona fides by knowing gayness when he sees it. Obama, in turn, will have a chance to score points with the LGBT voters by showing that he gets the gay vibe.

Once the gays have been outted and the candidates re-weighed, the final scores will be tallied. The loser will then be forcibly removed from the stage as the audience watches an emotionally uplifting montage of his greatest moments from the previous hour.

As the election itself will now be a forgone conclusion, the program will end with the winner being sworn in as president — while standing in a small tank and catching catfish with his bare hands.

You guys in?


Sam Apple
Sam Apple is the publisher of The Faster Times. He has served as the editor-in-chief of New Voices Magazine and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine, ESPN The Maga more


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