As we all are painfully aware, this is debate season in presidential politics. Debra and I took time out of our Disney World trip last week to watch the first McCain/Obama debate (OK, the truth is that we fell on the bed exhausted after a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which included three rides each on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and didn’t have the strength to change the channel, but we watched it nonetheless). And tonight we plan to watch the most hyped and anticipated event since last season’s finals of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance—the Vice-Presidential debate! That’s how weird things are this year—the VP debate is generating more buzz than the presidential debates and even more than the latest dust-up on The View.
Anyway, the debates got me to thinking. Specifically, I got to thinking about the kinds of questions that the candidates get asked and the kinds of answers they give. I began wondering—if, in the final judgment, candidates were given the opportunity to defend their lives in a debate format, how would they respond?
Imagine two candidates standing before the great judgment bench. Imagine…imagine…imagine…imagine….
Question: “Please describe your personal relationship with God.”
Candidate one: “I believe that the American people have the right to define for themselves who or what they mean by ‘God.’ As you know, America is a great nation because we celebrate the diversity of our people, including the diversity of their faith traditions. Personally, especially since I am standing where I am today, I believe in the God who is questioning me. But let me say this—any lack of personal relationship with God on the part of the American people is the fault of the previous administration.”
Candidate two: “I talked with God this morning. God complimented me on my voting record which is scored at nearly 100% by the groups that represent the kinds of religious folks to whom I must pander and whose language I must speak if I want to be President, which I desperately wanted to be before I found myself here. By the way, for what kind of office can I run up here? Is that ‘at your right hand’ or ‘at your left hand’ position still open? You know, really, it would be appropriate for each of us to stand at one of your hands with our exact position to be determined by our individual political stances. Just think what good such an eternal bipartisan effort might do! But getting back to my personal relationship with God—I support the nation of Israel."
Question: “Talk about how your economic policies were influenced by the clear teachings of Holy Scripture.”
Candidate one: “My economic plan would have given tax breaks to everyone that I believed had the slightest inclination to vote for me. Indeed, some economic experts said that my plan would have given tax breaks to more than—that’s right—more than 100% of the lower and middle class population. It’s a miracle! And there are miracles in the Bible. There’s that whole five loaves and two fishes deal—we could do that in America and have more than enough left over if we’ll just work hard and develop viable alternatives to imported oil.”
Candidate two: “In the story of Noah it rained for forty days and forty nights. By the time the deluge was over, that rain had trickled down over the whole earth. If we’ll extend enough tax breaks to corporations and the ridiculously wealthy, who have clearly been blessed by God, then eventually that wealth will trickle down to everybody in our great nation. Just like in the story of Noah.”
Question: “Please describe how your faith influenced your political discourse.”
Candidate one: “During our campaign my opponent misrepresented my record, at last count, 14,124,699 times. Everyone knows that he always distorts my statements and that I never misstate his positions. I always tell the truth. Any distortions or misrepresentations of my opponent’s positions come from my organization and not from me personally.”
Candidate two: “You’re a lying liar face. Now as to the question—my faith always influenced everything I said on the campaign trail. I believed with all my heart that I should be President and so I said whatever I needed to say to get elected.”
Question: “Heaven is just beyond those pearly gates. Did you ever think you’d get this close to the highest place in the universe?”
Candidate one: “Absolutely.”
Candidate two: “Only in America.”
Question: “Again, heaven is just beyond the gates. What will it take to get you the rest of the way?”
Candidate one: “The embrace of my narrative.”
Candidate two: “Ohio and Pennsylvania. Or Ohio and Florida. Or Pennsylvania and Florida.”
Question: “Look, what if I told you that heaven is for the poor in spirit who have experienced the grace of God and that you’ll get in by that grace and not by what you’ve accomplished—and not even by attaining 270 electoral votes or at least a favorable Supreme Court decision?”
Candidate one: “I’d say that’s a relief.”
Candidate two: “Ditto. I mean, Amen.”