Washington, DC - In an interesting twist on the tried and true debate model, The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has announced that President Bush and Senator Kerry will be competing against one and other during a series of extended gaming sessions using Microsoft's XBOX console and XBOX Live service.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Paul G. Kirk, Jr. - the co-chairmen of the CDP - both expressed their enthusiasm for the planned contest. "The traditional debate is really a set piece," said Fahrenkopf, "each candidate is carefully prepped and drilled so that they ‘stay on message'. The entire thing has become bland and predictable."
Beyond representing a change in format, Kirk believes the approach has other important benefits. "Firstly, it will appeal to younger male voters, traditionally an apathetic demographic," explained Kirk, "Secondly, it will force the candidates to really engage one another in a dynamic, real-time environment. Thirdly, it will provide voters with a chance to see how the candidates react to various challenges. Finally, it represents a huge marketing coup for Microsoft."
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO clearly concurred with Kirk's final point. In his typical brash fashion, Mr. Ballmer extolled the role of the XBOX in promoting both democracy and Microsoft. "It is so clear to me," said Ballmer, "that we are at a critical juncture for this great country and this great company. The closer we can bring these two the better off we'll be. I think that when American's see these two great men going ‘mano a mano' on the incredible XBOB, they will run right out and vote with their wallets - its going to better than great."
To determine the titles best suited to determining the candidates' fitness for offices, the CDP has turned to Rob Smith, the editor in chief of XBOX Magazine. He and his team of editors have put together a selection of games that will test the candidates' mettle in several critical areas.
"We've come up with four games that kick extreme butt," said Smith, "Full Spectrum Warrior - to see how they do commanding small squads; Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - since spying is pretty critical these days; MVP Baseball - to let them show how they are at like managing; and Burnout 3 - because the crashes are just so damn cool."
Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee expressed confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to compete and win online. "He's going to do especially well on MVP Baseball, where his years with the Rangers will be helpful," said Gillespie, "and I think American's will be pleasantly surprised at the President's handling of his squad in Full Spectrum Warrior."
Senator Kerry, speaking for himself, expressed confidence in his "1337" skills and promised to "pwn" President Bush. "I hope he is ready for some schooling," said Mr. Kerry, "because I have some sick skill and am going to unload them on his sorry ass."
Some voices of dissent have been raised about the plan. Jim Lehrer, the Anchor and Executive Editor of The NewsHour on PBS and the moderator of the first debate is a vocal critic. "We are talking about selecting the President of the United States," said Mr. Lehrer, "How well a person can play a video game hardly seems a thoughtful yardstick for making this decision. Why not just put the two of them in spandex and have them fight it out on pay-per-view for crying on loud?"
While not planning to charge American's to view the event, the CDP has confirmed that they are working with the networks, as well as several Web sites, to broadcast the contests.