Sen. John Edwards’ announcement of his bid for the presidency seems to have officially kicked off the 2004 presidential race. Edwards joined Senator John Kerry and Vermont Governor Howard Dean in the race for the White House. And by the end of this month, several others are expected to join the fray, including Gephardt, Daschle, Lieberman, Graham and possibly even the Reverend Al Sharpton. In fact, the Democratic primary field will be as tightly packed as one of Winona Ryder’s shoplifting bags.
Moreover, perhaps its just me but isn’t it a little early to start applying for a job that won’t become available until January 2005? In my view, this is like applying for grad school at the beginning of your junior year in college. Shouldn’t we wait a while to see what grades they make this year?
Speaking of applications, isn’t it a little strange that you have to fill out a detailed application to apply for college, medical school or even a job at McDonald’s but so little personal information is required to run for President of the United States? Instead, we rely on the candidates’ candor, the media and former mistresses to tell us what we need to know about the candidates.
As a result, we invariably get ourselves into a position where we have to appoint Independent Counsel to investigate a sitting President for misdeeds that we could have easily discovered prior to the election. This proves disruptive to the democratic process and more importantly, results in the pre-emption of several episodes of CSI as the President explains that he didn’t know what the meaning of the word “is” is.
This is just plain silly. Particularly when you consider that the solution is to simply require the candidate to fill out a detailed application like the one below:
1. Have any of the interns whom you slept with either turned up missing or on a Barbara Walters special? If so, were they at least cute?
2. Has your wife ever made $100,000 in a few weeks trading options, cattle futures or Beanie Babies?
3. In your “reckless youth,” did you ever use any form of narcotic or abuse alcohol? Please answer this question truthfully even if you have since stopped the behavior and passed it on to your twin daughters and niece.
4. Please list your chief campaign contributors and the companies that will receive tax breaks and other special treatment after your election.
5. Please list any past or current associates whom you will pardon during your term.
6. Please provide a complete list of your belongings and possessions. (We will use this list to check against the items that you remove from the White House)
7. How much will you charge for overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom? Will you accept senior citizen discounts or frequent flyer miles?
8. How will you determine your running mate?
a. I will let my daddy make that tough decision for me.
b. I will choose someone so stupid that no one will ever want to see me dead.
c. The job will go to the highest bidder.
9. Have you ever served in the military (please note that the National Guard does not count)?
10. When you are eventually caught in scandal, what will be your defense?
a. “I am not a crook!”
b. “I am the victim of a [left/right]-wing conspiracy.”
c. “The @#$% set me up!”
Now, this wouldn’t be a complete list of questions but just these ten questions could save us millions in independent counsel fees alone.
Of course, some of you are probably wondering how we make sure that the candidates give truthful answers. After all, a politician’s word is usually about as convincing as Sam Donaldson’s toupee.
One solution would be to make the candidates sign their applications under penalty of perjury. On second thought, perjury doesn’t seem to be a serious threat for a politician.
Fortunately, it wouldn’t matter if the candidates were truthful because we would know if they were lying anyway. For instance, if a candidate were to answer “NONE” to Question 4 or 5, then we would know that he was lying.
The bottom line here is that the American people have a right to know the character of the person whom they will eventually learn to distrust.
SEAN CARTER is a lawyer, comedian, public speaker and the author of If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit? Your Humorous Guide to the Law. He can be reached at www.lawpsided.com.