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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Cheap Debate Advice: Flying Dog and the Orange Man

Dear President Bush,

I know that you are getting a lot of advice on how to debate Senator Kerry. More than likely this advice is pretty good and well thought out. I thought I'd offer a little of the other kind.

First, try to ignore the orange hue of your opponent. It is probably a political trick designed by the Democrats to make you lose your train of thought during the debates. Trying to smother your laughter will only give rise to additional allegations of "smirking" and contentions of you "not being a serious candidate." No Halloween quips, either. I know that your practice sessions did not include debating against anyone who has managed to turn himself orange, but that is simply because even Karl Rove couldn't anticipate this sly political maneuver (unless he was behind it, in which case, never mind).

Second, keep your answers short and to the point. If Mr. Kerry seems to need additional time to make one of his points, generously give him some of your time. Allow him to weave all the nuances he can manage in answering a question. By the time he gets done, no one will remember what the question was, why the debate is beng held or even what planet they are on. In fact, given his speaking style and his Great Pumpkin skin tone, most people watching the debate will believe they've tuned into some horrible old science fiction movie like the ones they used to show on Saturday nights at midnight. Try to remain awake yourself. You might want to borrow an IPOD from one of your daughters so you will have something to listen to while he drones on. Try not to dance, though.

Third, I know that you aren't supposed to talk directly to Mr. Kerry, but if the chance arises, you might ask Mr. Kerry about his famous flying dog. You know, the one he described in his response to this question posed by the Humane Society :

Q. "Do you have any pets that have made an impact on you personally?"

Mr. Kerry's Answer (and I am not making this up):

"I have always had pets in my life and there are a few that I remember very fondly.
When I was serving on a swiftboat in Vietnam, my crewmates and I had a dog we called
VC. We all took care of him, and he stayed with us and loved riding on the swiftboat
deck. I think he provided all of us with a link to home and a few moments of peace and tranquility during a dangerous time. One day as our swiftboat was heading up a river, a mine exploded hard under our boat. After picking ourselves up, we discovered VC was MIA. Several minutes of frantic search followed after which we thought we'd lost him. We were relieved when another boat called asking if we were missing a dog. It turns out VC was catapulted from the deck of our boat and landed confused, but unhurt, on the deck of another boat in our patrol."

While there is some risk in raising the issue of Mr. Kerry's Vietnam service, the odds are that if the debate has lasted more than thirty seconds that subject will have all ready been raised, if you know what I mean. Anyway, as a former fighter pilot (you might mention that, the polls seem to show that the image of you in uniform as a younger man and in a flight suit plays well to a certain segment of the voting public and we need all the votes of women we can get), you might tell him that while you understand enough physics to deal with getting a high powered jet aircraft into the air, you really would like to know more about this incident. Ask him to draw pictures of where the boats where and how high the dog flew and to opine on how large an explosion it would take to launch a dog through space and yet apparently do no damage to his boat or crew. You might ask if the boat that received the dog saw the mine explode and yet only called him about the dog and not to see if he needed any assistance in recovering from the blast. I mean, if it were me on the boat that received the dog and I hadn't seen or heard the explosion and a dog suddenly appeared on the deck of my boat, I would have been thinking "miracle" and not quizzing my fellow boat skippers about whether they were missing a dog.

If he asks what possible relevance the flying dog has to the campaign, turn the question on him by saying something like, "I'm not sure, but aren't you the guy who wrote the response to the Humane Society question to presidential candidates? Why did you think it was relevant?" If he tries to claim it was just a little "shaggy dog" story, ask him what other things he has said fall into the same category.

Relax. Have fun. Let him debate himself.

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