It's time for another presidential debate, but this one is different, because everyone will follow the rules and tell the truth. This is the foreign policy debate, which means we get to witness the Lucky Alien Sweepstakes, in which the two candidates' answers determine just which nation's people have won the right to be torched alive from airborne American hellfire. CROSS YOUR FINGERS, SYRIA.
Tonight, I'm joined by my colleague John Cook, who asked this question at the Democratic National Convention. Take a quick guess which question won't get asked by Bob Schieffer tonight. Then drink!
(JC): Bob Scheiffer just told the audience, "It's been a wonderful life," apparently getting ready to Sign Off for good as soon as this is over.
(MSS): Kind of a shocker: Super Bowl-winning head coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden accompanied Schieffer out to the table and will also be asking questions of the candidates.
(JC): David Gergen: "I'm looking to see who wins the debate, because the winner may be the next president."
(MSS): David Gergen is going to open a can of Coke and a can of Pepsi to see if one of them has cola in it.
(MSS): I like the little cubbyholes they get underneath the table. Does Mitt Romney know sign language? Can we get a camera under there? How many minutes before he's signing "FAG" at Barack Obama? Three?
(JC): Someone better look and count the boogers down there when this is over.
(MSS): There are three pieces of gum and someone has written ZEP RULES in Paul Ryan's handwriting.
(JC): "It's nice to be funny this time not on purpose." First kernel failure of the night.
(MSS): This is what happens when you can only make statements by endless qualification and multiplying negatives. "Mr. President, I'm not gainsaying that my plan won't fail to ignore 47% of the American people, because they suck at playing lacrosse with convertibles."
(JC): The "Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon" line is sort of existentially confusing. In 150 years they will be 150 years closer.
(MSS): Hahaha I'm guessing Bibi was instrumental in drafting that opening statement of dire predictions.
(JC): I think the last thing Romney wanted was to get Benghazi out of the way at the very beginning.
(JC): "Yes, killing is important. We must kill. But there's so much more!"
(JC): The Arab Spring has clearly been a great setback to the cause of democracy and progress in the Middle East. NEVER FORGET MALI.
(MSS): "I like to think of Mali as a beautiful Irish lass. A vulnerable one. Mali O'Innocent. And the president is a threat to Mali."
(MSS): Oh, I liked this question from moderator Jon Gruden: "GOVERNOR ROMNEY, HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT? BECAUSE LEMME TELL YA SOMETHING: THIS GUY RIGHT HERE LOVES PLAYING THE PRESIDENT POSITION IN THE NATION'S GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."
(JC): DINGDINGDING OBAMA MENTIONS ISRAEL FIRST.
(MSS): There's nothing like invoking the humanitarian horror of 30,000 deaths in the Middle East, then following it up with a namedrop of Turkey. Thank God everyone has a historical memory as long as a mayfly's.
(JC): Iran's crucial route to the sea! Iran's other route to the sea is called the Persian Gulf.
(MSS): You don't understand, without Syria's port access, Iran won't be able to hand control of the Great Game over to Russia, thwarting our Anglo-Saxon ally's colonial interests!
(JC): "I've killed several other Arabs besides Osama bin Laden."
(MSS): "Remember how I whacked Osama while I was telling jokes at a dinner? Guess who's dying right now. Just guess. You'll never get it, but let me tell you: it's A LOT of them, and the thing we're using to kill them is fucking AMAZING. (It's a hammer that can fly.)"
(JC): Has Romney even mentioned Israel yet? Disgusting.
(MSS): MODERATOR GRUDEN: "Gentlemen, I would like to know, if elected, where would you use A TALENTED YOUNG MAN like DANE SANZENBACHER? Because I gotta tell you, THIS GUY has what it takes in every facet of the regime."
(JC): If you had "What is also important is..." you have cirrhosis of the liver now.
(MSS): What reassures me as a voter and a citizen is someone in a leadership position who prioritizes absolutely everything. You know what's important? Tie a bandana over your eyes and spin around while pointing. That's what's important.
(JC): "My problem with the president's policies isn't the policies, per se—I would have done the same—as much as the fact that they failed."
(JC): "People tend to vote for peace—I mean, wait. Other countries. Here you have to vote for me."
(MSS): This exchange is just perfect.
SCHIEFFER: "Governor Romney, what is the role of America in the world?"
ROMNEY: "Fixing our economy, which I would do."
Senator Kerry, forgot about Poland."
(JC): THE POLAND BOMB.
(MSS): "I'm going to grow the economy at home and compete with China by trading more in Latin America, where we make the products of the American economy that aren't made in China. Rising take-home pay."
(JC): Just think of the time-zone opportunities!
(JC): The question was "What should America's role in the world be." Teachers and small businesses.
(MSS): Puppies and cookies. Flags that smell like heather (both the plant and a girl from homeroom.)
(MSS): Governor Romney, this is a national debate where you can defend your policies with hard numbers that you've committed to. Could you explain where you're going to find $3 trillion for the Navy? "GO TO OUR WEBSITE YOU OLD BUMBLEFUCK, THIS ISN'T THE TIME OR THE PLACE FOR EXPLAINING SHIT."
(JC): Wait what about killing Big Bird? I thought he was first.
(JC): "We need to be thinking about space." Have you ever really thought about space, man?
(MSS): Even after Obama mentioned having a military that's the same size as the next ten militaries combined, we're still having an argument about making sure we keep increasing OUR KILLING POWER.
(MSS): We can not afford a bayonet gap!
(JC): SHIPS THAT GO UNDER WATER.
(JC): I think these are what you call zingers.
(JC): We have their back. Bros before Persians.
(MSS): Our cavalry is in shockingly poor condition—we're just inviting mischief from Jan Sobieski, who's been STEAMED ever since we forgot about him. If we went to war today, we would not have a single wad of gunpowder in a paper wrapper we could tear open with our remaining teeth. We do not have a single handsaw for de-footing a soldier. And we are running drastically short of load-bearing supply-coolies.
(MSS): So Mitt Romney is going to arrest a foreign leader for genocide by rhetoric? I'm not sure there's enough irony here coming from a dude whose religion found its place in the sun via westward expansion into the American continent. Can we get Turkey to be the one to kidnap Ahmadinejad?
(JC): I can tighten those sanctions, baby. Tiiiiiiight. Love them tight.
(MSS): "Do you know how hard it is to cripple people with sanctions? Sure, you give millions of children rickets and pellagra, but I mean the people who have nickel-plated handguns and say shit on television."
(JC): My sanctions have caused more Iranian children to go hungry than your sanctions!
(MSS): OH, YOU WANNA GO RIGHT NOW? I'LL PUNCH AN IRANIAN BABY IN THE FACE.
(MSS): I can't believe Obama didn't go to Israel. Why would he think anyone could get away with that?
(JC): "Four years closer to a bomb" again. How many years closer should they be? Three? Eight? Everything is always four years closer four years later.
(MSS): I'm pretty sure Obama keeps saying "Mission Creep" because he wants people at home to think of a scrawny chumpstain Mitt Romney with a shortsleeved white Oxford and a black tie knocking on their doors and annoying the shit out of them. While armed.
(JC): YOU'RE A FUCKING PUSSY LIKE BIDEN.
(MSS): Twenty years from now, all anyone will be able to remember about these debates is Mitt Romney instructing each moderator about what it is they don't have permission to do.
(JC): When a former colonial subject gets more nukes than it's former colonial overlords, that's some Blade Runner shit right there.
(MSS): I've seen things in a Powerpoint from Netanyahu that the American people wouldn't believe. Our ships on fire in the Indian Ocean. I've seen C4 glitter on fire near Jerusalem's Golden Gate. All those Muslims will be slain in lime, from phosphorous rain. Time for everyone to die.
(JC): There's no reason why Americans should die when there are so many Afghans who are still alive.
(JC): OBAMA BIN LADEN. OBAMA BIN LADEN IN THE FACE OF THE PRESIDENT.
(MSS): DRONES. HOLY CRAP.
(JC): We know Obama's position on drones, so I won't bother to ask him about them, because that would be a waste of time, right? So: Mr. Romney, how awesome are drones?
(MSS): "I'm going to disagree with the president about the awesomeness of drones, Bob. Drones are a radical new tactical option, so I think it's fair to characterize them as rad."
(JC): So really the only mention of our extrajudicial assassination program is a chance for Romney to ratify it.
(MSS): Mr. President, what do you see as the most profound threat to the security of the United States in the future? "Hax0rs, Bob."
(JC): Kind of stunned that Romney even mentioned the lack of a Palestinian settlement and even more stunned that Obama didn't throw his "I don't give a fuck about the so-called Palestinians" 47% speech back in his face.
(MSS): I've been listening to BS come out of these two for so long that it's uncanny how efficiently my reptilian brain tells me, "OK, you can just tune this out now," and rouses me whenever the boilerplate is about to end.
(JC): "China has to feed its faceless hordes just like we do, Bob."
(MSS): "I'm going to call China names, Bob."
(JC): "We're in the middle of a classified CIA paramilitary-run trade war with China, Bob."
(MSS): Mitt has discovered a kind of hidden war heretofore unknown to American economists: an uneven balance of trade.
(JC): This will heretofore be known as "The Valve Debate."
(JC): "What About the Valves?" t-shirts being printed up en mass right now.
(MSS): (Mitt Romney flops onto the table on his side and trumpets an enormous fart) "MY VALVE!"
(MSS): "Have you met my friend Joe the Valve?"
(MSS): "Paul Ryan and I are a team of valves."
(MSS): JON GRUDEN: "LEMME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT MITT ROMNEY. THIS GUY IS A HECKUVA VALVE. HE CAN STOP AND REGULATE FLOW. HE CAN OPEN ALL THE WAY UP."
(JC): Why am I so happy that the guy who proclaimed the most blood on his hands won?
(JC): And how do the Breitbart Brigades attack Schieffer as an Obamabot when his most significant contrtibution to the debate was a reference to Obama bin Laden?
(JC): I JUST REALIZED THAT MITT ROMNEY TALKS EXACTLY LIKE GRETA VAN SUSTEREN.
(MSS): Well, at least now I understand my constant, awkward arousal.
(JC): Look at their mouths—the same slant, the same clipped cadence, the same trailed off word endings.
(JC): Mitt Romney just held up a binder?
(JC): "I'll lead you in an open and honest way" was obviously plagiarized from 50 Shades of Grey.
(MSS): Well, it was a beautiful debate. I encourage everyone to watch CNN's coverage of the analysis, featuring Doris Kearns Goodwin, Fareed Zakaria and Alex Castellanos—two plagiarists, and a man responsible for one of the most racist campaign ads in history. Enjoy!
(JC): HOLY SHIT TAGG JUST PUNCHED THE PRESIDENT.
(MSS): JON GRUDEN: WELL, I GOTTA TELL YA, THAT WAS A SMASHMOUTH DEBATE. ROMNEY CAME OUT AND MANAGED DEEP STRIKES PAST OBAMA'S LINES. YOU KNOW WHAT?—HE REMINDED ME OF A GUY BY THE NAME OF THE MAD BOMBER, DARYLE LaMONICA. AND OBAMA: WHAT. A. PLAYER. YOU KNOW SOMETHING ELSE? THIS GUY IS A GUY WHO HITS A LINE AND JUST BREAKS FREE FOR DAYLIGHT. HE REMINDS ME OF A YOUNG RUEBEN DROUGHNS. DROUGHNS STRUCK WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECTED, SLASHING AND DRIVING WITH BRUTAL FORCE INTO THE LINE AND CARVING UP SECONDARY DEFENDERS. WHAT A COMPETITOR. GOD BLESS AMERICA. I LOVE IT, MIKE.
Debate's over. No more debates! You can watch the third round in its entirety here, courtesy the NYT.