(With Super Tuesday fast approaching, I thought I would reprint my only politically-tinged column to date, which was written just before the last presidential election, in response to the presidential debate.)

Have a cupcake for breakfast, and the day will be downhill from there. I should have listened to that age-old saying. Or rather, people should have started saying that ages ago, so that it would have been around today, to warn me. But then again, it would have taken more than a stupid saying to keep me away from that cupcake this morning. Perhaps a stupid saying hanging on an electric fence around the cupcake. But then I would have been killed. In any event, that morning cupcake was by far the best thing about my day. And it was over by 8 a.m.

The cupcakes were left over from the night before, when they were whipped up for an event I called “Have Beer and Cupcakes and Watch the Presidential Debate”. Contrary to popular belief, beer and cupcakes do not help one focus on the issues. They do, however, make one dwell obsessively on the fact that President Bush was drinking from a much more masculine water glass than Senator Kerry. It was a short, sturdy, good-old-boy tumbler. (Although it was rather reminiscent of the kind of glass you might drink whiskey from, which is perhaps not the image he wanted to project).

Kerry’s glass, on the other hand, was more akin to a goblet. It was tall and delicate. It had a stem, for God’s sake. Who drinks from a glass with a stem when they’re trying to convince millions of viewers how they’re going to get tough on terrorism? The Democratic nominee may have carried the debate, but he failed the water-glass showdown, which makes me uneasy.

I could already see the spin: Two twenty-something, microphone-bearing Fox reporters with jovial smiles and gimlet eyes. “Did you get a look at that stemware Kerry was holding? What does he think this is, a wine-tasting? How very French of him, am I right Jean? That’s some kind of French thing he’s got going on there. With that wine glass.”

“It’s very girly, Craig. You’re right. I don’t know how Kerry expects to fend off terrorist attackers with that thing, unless it’s by distracting them with a plate of brie and crackers.”
Although I suppose the knife could cut both ways, with liberal news media offering the President their congratulations on his mastery of drinking out of a breakable glass that lacked a tight lid, handles on both sides, and a silly straw.

It never would have occurred to me to place any importance on the style of drinking-glass a candidate uses during a debate, but in a race as heated and close as this one appears to be, I suppose the two opponents need to press every possible advantage. President Bush might have done well to have a Bald Eagle perched on his shoulder, a water-cup grasped in one of its taloned claws. Or, even better, how about bringing Saddam Hussein out in chains, one hand freed to hold a velvet pillow bearing his conqueror’s drink? More subtle, perhaps, but still striking, would have been for the president to sip water from Saddam’s hollowed-out skull.

John Kerry, on the other hand, might have taken the opportunity to stir his drink with a purple heart.

After this debate, I fear for the future, friends. I really do.

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