Debate Time – I’d Like to Write Some Zingers

I’ve never been comfortable with the notion that politics is a game where the aim is to win power.

I do not buy the view that all politicians are scum bags who don’t care for the larger good. My sense is that most politicians have two hands which often work against each other – on the one hand they want to do well from a governance perspective, and on the other hand they care about re-election. The difference between the good politician and the not so good politician is in how they think about which hand is the objective, and which hand the constraint. The good politician thinks that she should maximize good governance subject to a re-election chances constraint, whereas the not so good politician tries to maximize re-election chances, subject to a minimum governance constraint.

But this evening I must stop trying to be overly analytical and must settle down to watch the game as Obama and Romney play to win. I must put my discomfort to rest and be entertained by the quadrennial sport called Presidential politics. It’s been going on for some time now and I’ve started many a blog piece based on the news of a particular day. None of them made it to the blog, because procrastination and the rest of life came in the way of seeing them to completion – even if highly delayed I will complete them and put them up as a ‘what I was thinking’ piece sometime in the not so distant future.

It is on a day like this that I hope that I was the part of a campaign where I could sit in a room with like-minded folk and come up with good one liners for my candidate, or that I could be on the staff of the debate moderator and make up the questions that would make or break a candidate’s political future. Unfortunately I am part of no campaign (nobody called and I don’t know how to get in touch with them), nor am I part of Jim Lehrer’s staff (nobody called and I don’t know how to get in touch with them), and so should be content putting up my one liners on this blog. Given that they are never going to be used, I simply provide one for each person.

For President Obama
Use any opening you get from Romney when he speaks about his competence and ability to get things done (as in I fixed the Olympics, etc, etc.) and say, “I agree with Governor Romney. He is a man of competence and that is the problem. He will be incredibly competent in executing his plan to end Medicare Care as we know it. It wouldn’t be a disaster if we elect somebody with Mr. Romney’s views if that person is incompetent, but given his ability to execute, we should be very careful.”

For Governor Romney
Look straight into the camera and tell the American people – “Give me a chance, and I will give you more than just hope. I will give you jobs, and peace, and prosperity.”

Question for Mr. Lehrer
What are the things that you must get done with no ifs, ands, or buts, failing which you will agree that your administration was a failure? Put differently, what can you promise the American public that you will get done if elected?

BTW, if anyone knows anyone who wants a one-line zinger maker for the next election cycle, please know, I am happy to interview for the job.


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