Art and commentary by Kimberly Harris

The Debate


A modern interpretation of Eugene Field’s iconic poem “The Duel” about the fateful clash between the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat who had a terrible spat and ate each other up

Canine Bark Obama prepares to debate feline Kitt Romney

Fierce adversaries Kitt Romney and Bark Obama prepare to confront each other in the first presidential debate on domestic policy

It was high noon in the Colorado mountains high
The fateful hour of debate dreweth nigh
The crowd grew silent anticipating the drama
As fearless Kitt Romney and bold Bark Obama
Side by side at their podiums stood
Praying to avoid gaffes, knock on wood

(“The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Were on site to watch this much-anticipated debate
They two were among the first to see the drama unfold
The Plate winced as Kitt sized up Bark with eyes ice-cold
The Clock shuddered as Bark assessed Kitt with a look most callous
Each candidate was determined to emerge victorious
“No good will come of this,” said the old Dutch clock, looking perturbed
“I foresee a very bad ending,” the Chinese plate all but concurred)

One was a follower of the grey Pachyderm,
Pledged to limit his opponent to a single term
The incumbent was a devoted disciple of the Donkey
Flatly opposed to the vision of that feline Romney

Prominent legislators had coached the two
Briefing them on the issues with much ado
Foreseeing every attack and each defense
And for the practice spared no expense
Senator Portman had stood in for Bark
So Kitt could hone his attacks like a shark
Senator Kerry pretended to be Kitt
Coaching Bark to strike with serious grit

Suddenly the cries from the audience filled the air:
“There’s no difference between this pair”
“All politicians are cut out of the same cheap cloth”
“They should tell us the facts and cut out all the froth”

But a few astute observers were quick to remark
“Look at the cool blue gingham coat sported by Bark”
“And then there’s Kitt’s handsome fur of red calico”
“Either one could be a most formidable foe”

The moderator called the hall to order without delay
“Gentlemen, prepare to confront the issues of the day”
Kitt Romney arched his back in advance of his strike
And with utmost conviction exclaimed into the mike
“Meow, meow, meow!” (“Government has grown far too large!”)
But with ears drawn back and poised to counterattack
Without skipping a beat Bark Obama retorted back
“Arf, arf, arf!!” (“in order to serve us, government needs to be big”)

“So tell us of your achievements, said the moderator”
Accusations and counterclaims swiftly followed from either orator

Bark on the transportation  industry:

“There wasn’t time to design a green aeroplane, so I opted for a fast train”
“I allocated 8 billion for high-speed rail that will grace our nation’s terrain”
“Then I saved the automotive industry from a calamity most feared”
“Graced them with cash with a little help from Ben of the Beard”
“My injection of loot inspired them to create the Chevy Volt”
“A person who would drive any other car is none less than a dolt”

Kitt’s reply:

“You messed with the market and now look at what you have wrought”
“You have spawned a fleet of cars that nobody has bought”
“Volt, Tesla and Leaf all sit in a dealer’s lot as was widely feared”
“In spite of huge rebates, courtesy of your Man with the Beard”
“If that wasn’t enough, you gave half a billion to Fisker-Valmet”
“For an electric sports car to be built in Finland, to our dismay”

++++++++++

Kitt on stimulus

“Your stimulus program had no lasting effects”
“You fleeced the taxpayers with your imprudent projects”
“Solyndra was a dismal failure that squandered half a billion”
“Under your watch the national debt increased by 5 trillion”
“There were no shovel-ready jobs and the money benefited your cronies”
“The country would have done better at the track betting on the ponies”

Bark’s reply:

“I created 4 million jobs by doing things my way”
“$787 million, I mean billion, was a small price to pay”
“The fiscal multiplier is certainly bound to be greater than one”
“In fact GDP is growing so fast that I’m sure I hit a home run”
“There is no need to be concerned about all the spending”
“We are backed by the full faith and credit of Beijing”

++++++++++

Bark on Bain Capital:

“When you were the heartless steward at Bain”
“It is well known that you inflicted considerable pain”
“You and Goldman Sachs cynically used equity extraction”
“To drain the lifeblood from firms for your own gratification”
“You closed factories all the way from Hawaii to Maine”
“And offshored thousands of jobs for your personal gain”

Kitt’s reply:

“You may call me many a name, but a vulture I’m not”
“I saved many a noble brand from ruin or rot”
“If you sleep on a mattress it is most probably a Sealy”
“Your favorite golf clubs came from Sports Authority”
“And that pizza you had for lunch, it’s from Domino’s
“And your laptop was bought at Staples, or was that Joe’s?”

++++++++++

Bark on animal cruelty:

“You strapped your family pet to the top of your sedan”
“You could not find room inside amongst your clan”
“He howled out in terror with the most woeful woof”
“Then poor Seamus panicked and soiled the roof”

Kitt’s reply:

“You shamelessly dined on your faithful four-legged friend”
“In a heartless move that is hard to comprehend”
“You stewed him in sambal sauce and garnished him with greens”
“And then you enjoyed a smoke after they took away his remains”

++++++++++

Suddenly, Bark blurted out:
“I’m not taking any more abuse from you! That’s it!”
“This is the final straw! I’ve had it too!” echoed Kitt

They leapt and charged towards each other with pent-up emotion
Their fangs bared and their claws poised in the angriest fashion
The podiums crashed to the floor with a deafening wham
And the air soon filled with shreds of calico and gingham
It was a truly terrifying sight to behold such a vicious row
The audience rushed to the door with the moderator in tow

Feline Kitt Romney and canine Bark Obama are fighting furiously

After trading insults for most of the debate, a furious fight breaks out between Kitt Romney and Bark Obama

When the janitor arrived late that night
There was little evidence of that epic fight
The dust had settled and the folks were gone
So he stood up the chairs and tidied up until dawn
But as he prepared to go home for some well-earned rest
He was confronted by a crowd of reporters, all well-dressed.

“What became of the debating candidates?” they all asked in chorus.
“We can’t seem to find them anywhere. Do you have a scoop for us?”
The janitor replied politely as he offered them a chair:
“Those quarrelsome two? I have seen neither hide nor hair of that pair”
“But I do know there was a fierce fight in this hall”
“And I did sweep up a tad of fur, as I recall”
“But no siree, I assumed that they both went home to bed”
But the reporters knew better, so the evening news headline read:

“DEBATING CANDIDATES EAT EACH OTHER UP”
Janitor eyewitness states: “There wasn’t a shred of material evidence left!”

(The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Both confirm this was no mere stalemate
Bark ate Kitt and Kitt ate Bark, no question
Tragically ending their ferocious debating session)

+++++++
THE END

Illustration by Kim Harris
Story by Don Rudisuhle

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