Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinton, McCain Champion Radical Campaign Reform

We can confirm rumors that have been swirling around the Beltway in recent days that John McCain and one of his Democratic rivals, Hilary Clinton, are cooperating in a rare bipartisan effort to rush a new campaign reform bill through Congress in time to take effect before next Tuesday's vital primaries in Ohio and Texas. The McCain-Clinton 'Restriction of Eloquence and Control of Charisma Act' will outlaw - except in very carefully defined circumstances - excessive personal magnetism and the use of soaring rhetoric by any candidate for the Presidency.

"How did we ever let things get this far?" lamented Howard Wolfson, head Hillary Honcho. "The use of cleverly structured rhetorical tropes in a superbly modulated baritone together with an instinctive feel for the emotional rhythms of the audience amounting to genius was all very well for Black preachers in rural Alabama in the 1960s but it has no place in the secular arena of 21st century Presidential politics."

Fellow Clinton adviser, Harold Ickes Jr. agrees: "When you get down to it," he said with a shake of the head, "it's about the separation of Church and State, the most fundamental principle of the our way of life, apart from abortion, busing, racial and gender based quotas and membership of a teaching union, of course, while not forgetting the right of progressivist college professors to promote their personal political ideology in the classroom."

The Candidate herself is said to have been 'passionate' about this proposal 'from Day One'. Senator Clinton was so "overwhelmed by George W. Bush's powerful rhetoric and matchless eloquence" campaign manager Maggie Williams told CMOL that she voted for the Iraq War "in a kind of trance." When she eventually came to her senses, Ms Williams explained, "she was appalled at what she had done. She's determined that the voters in Ohio and Texas won't have to suffer as she did."

Senator John McCain, renowned for his laid-back temperament, was characteristically more insouciant. "I don't have a dog in this fight,", he said flashing his trademark tight-lipped grimace, "I'm as old as dirt, as articulate as roadkill and have all the charisma of a leper colony, but I learned in the Hanoi Hilton that fine phrases, a million dollar smile and a devilishly attractive personality are not the qualities needed in a Commander-in-Chief." Pressed as to why he was throwing his support behind the measure, McCain smiled shyly and said "I never came across a reform proposal I didn't want to put my name to, especially if it involves Democrats. My record speaks for itself."

McCain-Clinton proposes sweeping changes in the way candidates can conduct themselves in their efforts to 'connect with the voters'. A Presidential hopeful is mandated to use "only that kind of language a reasonable person would expect to hear at the cash desk in Wal-Mart, in an auto repair shop or a homeless shelter". Figurative language is severely restricted. Such well-loved phrases as step up to the plate, a swing and a miss, a Hail Mary, two peas in a pod, don't count your chickens before they're hatched, if life gives you lemons make lemonade and the like are exempted as being too difficult to police. However any references to having dreams of equality and unity, seeing visions of a bright, prosperous future, calling for sacrifices for the common good are banned as 'inflammatory' and 'likely to inflame the voters with unrealistic feelings of hope and joy that the dogs in the street know can never be realized'. Such oratory is also held to unfairly disadvantage 'more nuanced, experienced, issues-rich candidates' who are constitutionally incapable of 'waxing poetic'. In a controversial move McCain-Clinton specifically bans 'any and all invocations of change' except with reference 'to a candidate succeeding to an office once held by a close family member'.

There are explicit exceptions embodied in the bill. Minority candidates need not comply with any of the above restrictions provided that on 'all occasions of public oratory' with 'audiences of more than seven persons' they wear 'garb, dress, costume or any other habiliment associated with their ethnic identity". Thus a Japanese-American candidate would be required to gain 300 pounds and wear a large diaper of the kind used by Sumo wrestlers. A Latino would need to get hold of a pancho, a sombrero and enter the auditorium on a mule and call a halt midway through proceedings 'for the purposes of siesta'. African-Americans aspiring to the Presidency are mandated to wear 'colorful local dress common to that part of Africa from which their progenitors emerged'. Spears, shields, clubs and 'other implements connotative of traditional internecine tribal strife' are also necessary.

Little opposition is expected in Congress. McCain-Clinton should be on the President's desk by Monday. 'Providing it is ear-mark free' a White house spokesperson said that he will 'immediately' sign it into law. "He never uses his powers of veto," she explained. "It's an important part of his legacy."

A Clinton insider told us that the Senator hopes to add a rider to the bill making it retroactive to January 3 of this year. "She's not committed irrevocably to that date", he added. "There is some flexibility. January 1 or 2 would be equally acceptable."

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