This story is unpublished. It was written for a class while Molly was attending Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.
The 2008 presidential candidates have turned to sports in an effort to appeal to reticent voters. A recent debate allowed the contenders a chance to express their personalities, off the campaign field.
Candidates from both parties appeared in front of a live audience to argue the most important issue that divides them – which sport should become the national pastime if every baseball player failed his steroid test.
John Madden moderated.
MADDEN: I’d like to remind the audience that to win, each candidate has to score more votes than the other politicians. Now, let the games begin!
H. CLINTON: This whole debate is rigged against me because I’m a woman. I’m invoking Title XI.
MADDEN: That was a great individual effort, but let’s keep our eyes on the ball. Senator Barack?
OBAMA: Hussein’s in my name; lacrosse is my game.
MADDEN: For any viewers who aren’t sports fans, that’s where players invite strippers to a party and then everyone runs up legal bills.
OBAMA: That’s only one aspect of the game. I learned to play from my mother, who was from Kansas but identified with Native Americans, Africans, Asians, West Kvetchians, East Taboulians and Tiger Woods. Lacrosse transcends all borders. It’s the choice for people of all colors, sizes and races, which this race is not about.
H. CLINTON: Is not, too! He’s agreeing with me again.
MADDEN: Senator Clinton, you look like you’re ready to run a punt return. Back to you.
H. CLINTON: There’s no going back, John, only forward. I don’t dwell in the past. I don’t care about that hussy hairdresser in Little Rock or the bottle blond in Reno. If elected, I pledge to do away with interns in the White House on day one. I’m more experienced about the dangers of interns than all of my opponents combined. I’m not riding on my husband’s coat tails –
MADDEN: We call it horse collaring, Senator.
H. CLINTON: Whatever. The point is: I don’t need him. I can do this on my own, without coarse hollering!
MADDEN: So what should our national sport be?
H. CLINTON: (A familiar raspy voice rises from the front row, but is inaudible on stage.) Boxcar. Smartcar. Sportscar? (A large grey-haired figure bounds onto the stage.)
MADDEN: It looks like the crowd factor is coming into play.
B. CLINTON: She means NASCAR.
H. CLINTON: Right! Remember how America rallied after Amelia Earnhardt’s tragic death in the last lap of the Daytona 900. And what a catastrophe that was, one which the junior Senator from Illinois did nothing to prevent. (B. Clinton tries to grab her microphone. They struggle.) We were united in tragedy – black, white, puce and aquamarine. Now the American people need an experienced leader. One who can drive the country in the right direction! One who can cover all the bases and knock the puck in the hoop and kick a triple axel through the uprights when the game’s on the line! Americans need –
B. CLINTON: Me! Her! Us! I mean, the country needs a Clinton. Well, it depends on what you think mean means.
H. CLINTON: Will security please get my husband out of my limelight?
MADDEN: It looks like a tooth-and-nail kind of game, folks, as the Democrats are forced to burn a timeout while Mr. Clinton is escorted into the locker room. Let’s try one of the elephants.
MCCAIN: My friends, America’s national sport should be hunting terrorists. This position makes me the most conservative candidate in this race. I am also the oldest and only one who didn’t go to Woodstock. I’ve been on the front lines of scrimmage more times than any other person here!
MADDEN: What an offensive move. Any thoughts, Governor Huckabee?
HUCKABEE: My faith is part of who I am. It’s not a game with me. My faith is more solid than any nine-iron, but lighter than any ping-pong ball. It’s tougher than astro-turf and stickier than resin. It’s…
MADDEN: Your sport, Governor? The ball’s in your court.
HUCKABEE: Our national sport should be tennis, which I was never allowed to play because it involves rackets, which are associated with organized crime, which I’m against. Also, the players make sex noises every time they hit their balls. Still, tennis is the sport for me and every committed evangelical who thinks there’s only one way to swing.
MADDEN: But why?
HUCKABEE: So we can clean it up! For a start I’d ban same-sex doubles. I’d also ban mixed doubles, except between a married man and his wife.
ROMNEY: I’m in favor of doing nothing. Staying the same, but changing too. I lowered taxes in Massachusetts and I raised them too!
MADDEN: Let’s get on the same page, candidates. Focus on the task at hand.
ROMNEY: I favor vigorous personal exercise. Like splitting stocks. I also favor piling up dollars.
MADDEN: I hope our viewing audience appreciates the tenacity of these politicians and their performance tonight. It’s stuff for the highlight film, folks.
OBAMA: I’m in favor of all kinds of athletes. Running backs –
MCCAIN: He’ll run backwards!
OBAMA: And short stops –
MCCAIN: He’ll stop short!
OBAMA: And rowers and curlers and pitchers!
B. CLINTON: Pitch her and pick me! I can start before day one!
HUCKABEE: I question the former President’s family values.
H. CLINTON: You’re a rightwing nut!
ROMNEY: I’m more of a rightwing nut than he is! No dancing at my White House. No inhaling on my watch.
MCCAIN: I’m not a liberal like these other candidates. I’ll stay in Iraq until h-e-double hockey sticks freezes over. We are all God’s children. Even the Clintons.
MADDEN: This place is pandemonium! We’ve got some strong candidates for this year’s draft, so we’ll just have to see who comes out on top.
And in a photo-opportunity finish, the candidates, moderator and former President Clinton linked arms and sang one rousing round of “Take Me Out to the White House” before the cameras stopped rolling.
Perhaps the nature of this event signals a new era of political campaigning and a new, important role for sports in American society… but let’s not count our field goals before they’re kicked.