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Poetry

Donkey Brains: The Problem Set of Losing Democratic Presidential Candidates Since 1968.

by Samuel Fishman

A poem from the Spring 2019 issue.

by Samuel Fishman | Poetry | Spring 2019

Image by Enrico Milletti

1968 Problem: The former vice president, and soon-to-be-crook, is leading in the polls. Solution: Allow the presidential convention to take place while a riot is happening outside, and allow the news cameras to film students being sprayed in the mouth with tear gas. Do not refute the soon-to-be-crook’s position as the “law and order candidate.”

1972 Problem: The crook is leading in the polls. Solution: Schedule the nominee, a senator best known for supporting acid, abortion, and amnesty, to give his acceptance speech at three in the morning. When the running mate is revealed to have had depression, support him with 1,000 percent certainty, then drop him.

1980 Problem: The costar of Bedtime for Bonzo is closing in on the president’s lead in the polls. Solution: Keep the president, who was only elected because of the crook, in the Rose Garden, giving speeches about economic malaise and the virtues of wearing sweaters. Appoint the president’s twelve year old daughter as his advisor on the geopolitics of nuclear weapons.

1984 Problem: The costar of She’s Working Her Way Through College is leading in the polls. Solution: Have the nominee, the vice president of the preceding, failed administration who is best known for quoting Wendy’s commercials, confess in his acceptance speech that he will raise taxes. Do not make age an issue of the campaign, while the president is 73.

1988 Problem: The vice-president of the costar of Cattle Queen of Montana is closing in in the polls. Solution: Plop the nominee, a Massachusetts governor whose hobby is writing weekend passes for convicted murderers, in a tank to appeal to veterans. Tell him to smile and point at reporters like he’s a dork trying to impress a prom queen with his performance of “Wonderwall.”

2000 Problem: The former co-owner of the Texas Rangers and the nominee are close in the polls. Solution: Train the nominee, the vice president of the current administration wracked with sex scandals, to act like a disapproving dad from a sitcom during the debates. Have him work in the word, “lockbox,” in all sixteen answers about the federal budget and Medicare reform.

2004 Problem: The misunderestimated Rangers fan and the nominee are close in the polls. Solution: Train the nominee, a Massachusetts senator who has flip-flopped on the Iraq War, to brag about his war record instead of talking about the economy. When Osama bin Laden publishes a videotape, write the nominee a speech saying nothing that the president hasn’t said.

2016 Problem: The second-best host of The Apprentice is doing well nationally.