Do Americans, even in anxious times, prefer an optimistic leader or an angry one?
If you’re among the 4 percent of likely voters who are still undecided, here are some things you need to know:
1. 9:00 pm EST, that's when it starts. It goes on until 10:30 pm. It's going to feel like several days, but you need to hang in there, so people won't judge you tomorrow at work/the unemployment office.
2. Television, that's how you watch it (exceptions made for Internet, radio, real-time puppet recreations/interpretive dance).
3. If you can hear sound, but you cannot see anything, you may have your eyes closed. Open them for full effect.
4. If you see 22 men running around in tights, and tossing around an oblong ball, you do not have the correct channel.
5. Now you're going to see two seated figures wearing flag pins. They are called politicians. Throughout the course of the night, they will emit a series of odd noises. These noises are known as hollow rhetoric, obfuscation, and lies—depending.
6. The elderly gentleman, who looks a tad like Statler and/or Waldorf from the Muppets, is called Bob Schieffer. He's the moderator.
7. The flag pin model who looks like 1950s-era clip art is called Mitt Romney. He's a Republican. The other one is called Barack Obama. He's also a Republican.
8. Very rarely, one of them will say something that's true. More than likely, this will be the Republican—Barack Obama. And it will likely be about the death of Osama bin Laden. He is dead. This will be mentioned many times. Every time it is mentioned, you must do a shot of Mormon Moonshine (whole milk). It's in the Constitution.
9. You'll hear about bin Laden a lot because the focus of the debate is foreign policy. Bin Laden is Obama's ace in the hole. Romney's ace is his experience battling the elusive same-sex warrior tribes of Massachusetts when he was governor. He'll also try to make something out of the recent attack on our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, probably by playing “gotcha” with something Obama never said. And watch for Obama to double-down on the importance of finding out exactly what happened—by November 7th (any sooner would be “playing politics”).
10. Schieffer's going to break the debate into six fifteen-minute segments—all based on the general attitude Americans share, which allows us to compartmentalize murder and obtusely refer to Iran as the “epicenter of world terrorism” without laughing because, clearly, we kill way more people than those sad Mullahs have ever dreamed. We're # 1! We're #1!
Segment 1: American exceptionalism in the world (see above). The candidates will try to out-denial each other in regard to our waning global influence. Expect to hear phrases like “A new/next American century,” and “Git 'er done!”
Segment 2: Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are countries—two of several in which we currently kill people with flying robots. Expect to hear some about the “fighting season,” yet none about how it's sort of weird that our flying death-robots are a bit wuss about the cold.
Segment 3: The Mensch-off. In addition to being the “Statler and Waldorf Capitol of the World,” Boca Raton is also know as “Big Jerusalem” in some circles that I just made up. Jews. There are lots of old Jews there. I'm allowed to say that, right? I mean, it's true. Anyway, it's the perfect setting for a Jewish panderfest. Obama and Romney will play doting shiksas by vowing their unbound affection for the State of Israel and its illegal occupation of the West Bank. On the flip side, both candidates will promise to beat up mean 'ol Iran. (Drink a gallon of milk if Romney calls anything a “Mitzvah!”) And, of course, there will be compulsory spelling bee portion. Look for “Ahmadinejad” to stump everyone. October Surprise: Romney may or may not credit the Jewish race with populating ancient North America, and burying the Golden Plates upon which Joseph Smith based the Book of Mormon.
Segment 4: The broader Middle East, broken into three distinct parts: a) The bucking Predator Drone rodeo; b) totally ignoring all of our unsavory alliances in the region (like Saudi Arabia) while juggling hypocritical rhetoric about promoting democracy and the rights of women; and c) the slam-dunk contest, sponsored by Raytheon.
Segment 5: Our future overlords, the Chinese. Look for Romney to talk tough about General Tso—possibly call him chicken, and make several other horrible, past-deadline puns of desperation, presumably. Obama, on the other hand, will no doubt read from Mao's Little Red Book and describe his five-year plan to bring the United States into the glorious Communist fold.
11. Now, despite the foreign policy focus, don't be surprised if the debate veers into domestic affairs, like the economy, how we probably don't have more people in prison than any other country as far as you know, how the female uterus is our biggest job creator, whose Heritage Foundation health care plan is better, exploring Chuck Todd's strategic goatee reserves, and the importance of recognizing our heroes on Wall Street.
12. And last, but not least, both candidates will surely rail against both the FBI's and the CIA's propensity to devise terror plots with the sole intent of thwarting them to justify their massive, swollen budgets. Just kidding! None of this stuff will happen. And you should probably just watch football.