Diddley Squat
Does the Debate

Although Diddley Squat was not invited to participate in the first nationally televised presidential debate on October 3, he was prepared to answer the questions. For those of you who think his exclusion was nothing less than a crime, we now present the "missing link" in the debate. Questions posed by moderator Jim Lehrer (at left) will be anwered directly by Diddley (in blue print), exactly as he would have answered had he been allowed to participate.

Mr. Squat, what makes you think that you are qualified to lead this country?

I've never claimed any particular qualifications. Rather, I attribute the qualities of "leadership" -- if you insist on using the term -- to the people themselves. The vote belongs to adults, persons 18 years of age or older. I suggest, as I have said since I was nominated for the honorable office of President, that adults are mature beings and they should be trusted to "lead" themselves. I shall remain in my little cage and allow them to do exactly that.

Mr. Squat, how exactly do you differ from your opponents in this race, and what makes your position better?

I differ from my opponents in almost every way. First of all, I am not going to rattle off a bunch of boring budget figures here. There will be a complete tax cut. Whatever you used to pay, what you pay right now -- that's what you won't be forced to pay anymore. Taxation will be voluntary. If you choose to pay tax, you may select from a number of programs and bureaus to be the beneficiaries of your taxes. You can designate the Post Office, the Social Security Administration, schools, highways, rodent sanctuaries, basically anything you want. I want to make this clear to the voters: unlike my opponents, I respect you and I believe in you and I will not stand in the way of your unique common sense, your creativity, your individuality.

Your opponents have said you lack the experience to run the country. Can you respond to that, please?

Certainly. The point is not to measure a certain minimum level of experience, nor even to try to define what the word experience means. Rather, I believe that it is time for a total revolution -- a whole new way of looking at politics in this country. And this is the centerpiece of my message. I will use the office of the Presidency, not to run the country under threat of force, not to rule the people by intimidation, but simply to set an example. Experience is not what we need to talk about here. We must speak of whether politicians even have a right to tell people how to live their lives. Politicians, no matter how experienced, should not be looking over their shoulder at you, watching your every move, telling you what to do.

As a practical matter, you want to bring prescription drugs to seniors like the other candidates, isn't that right, Mr. Squat?

Again, I think you will find me quite different from the other candidates. Not only do seniors deserve to get the medicine that they need, they also should have good medical care. But instead of creating a top heavy, boss-based system that leans toward the "big guys," I believe that we can do this in a much simpler way. I shall call upon the medical profession to do as the legal profession has done and to do pro bono work. In other words, if you have a license to practice medicine, you should use your ability, your training, to take senior cases without charge, making available to them everything you would have available to yourself when that time comes. Medicine included. In fact, I want to take this opportunity at this time to call upon all veterinarians to perform their moral duty to their elders.

Okay, now can you contrast your approach to preventing future oil price and supply problems like we have now to the approach of the other candidates?

Oh, excuse me. Did I say veterinarians? Well, I meant all doctors, dentists, psycho-therapists, whatever. Sorry about that. But veterinarians, too, of course.

Yes, yes, fine.

Oil. Oh, this is a particularly interesting issue. And it has been covered by the press only from the narrowest possible perspective. Now Mr. Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, makes the argument that it is hypocritical of U.S. leaders to demand they produce more oil and sell it for less money, while Venezuela has to pay huge amounts of debt to financial institutions run by the United States, and while we have never volunteered to reduce the prices of things we export to Venezuela. I think we have to look at what we mean by "fair trade." Is it supposed to be fair to us but not fair to anyone else? And beyond that, are we going to run around the world dictating economic policy to everyone? This is my objection to the way this country is ruled. It is even worse when so-called leaders in this country butt into people's lives all over the world, taking charge of people who have no chance to vote for or against them. We will prosper by being decent, not by the arrogance of absolute power. Rodents do not have dangerous inclinations of that sort.

Next question. If Milosevic refuses to accept the election results and leave office, what action, if any, should the United States take to get him out of there?

I think that is not our concern. Why would a hamster, any rodent for that matter, want to deal with stuff like this? This is another of those human-made situations that has played out in a very one-sided way in the news. There would have been no war in the Balkans if human politicians had not acted to prevent the people in Kosovo from forming alliances with others in the Muslim world. But that's exactly what the people at the State Department did, and we ended up in a truly awful war that totally destroyed Kosovo, cost us billions, and set the process of reconciliation in the region back about a thousand years. A hamster in the White House would never feel the need to engage in violence for purposes of show.

And how would you go about deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force, if you are elected? Generally.

We are terribly, terribly wrong to go around the world looking for enemies, looking for excuses to launch six-week air bombardments. This is the greatest cause of instability and ill-will towards Americans in the world today. As the first elected hamster in the White House, I will dismantle the war machine. History tells us that every arms build-up leads to a corresponding arms build-up some place else, and eventually it all results in war. You don't kick the cocaine habit by putting a pile of the stuff next to your bed where it's the first thing you see in the morning. And so we won't become peacekeepers until we abandon our addiction to machines of violence and destruction. And the way to do this is to elect an outsider, a soft, furry creature who has no psychological dependence on militarism.

Mr. Squat, how should the voters go about deciding which candidate is better suited to make the kind of decisions we've been talking about, whether it's --- ah, whatever -- the military, foreign policy, the rest of it?

Trust your instincts. Think. Look. Listen. Use common sense.

..... Yes?

I'm supposed to talk for three minutes, right?

... oh....

Okay, then. Would you rather have a peaceful and prosperous society, one that is not run by powercrats, ruffians, pirates, perverts, bandits? Isn't that what we all really want? And don't we need a long rest from politics-as-usual and all that has come with it over the past century or two? Think about it.

Mr. Squat, how would you advise the voters to make the decision?

Again? I just answered that.

Right. Okay. Let me ask you this one. Should the voters see this election as a major choice between competing political philosophies?

Well, no. Definitely not if they are only considering the major party candidates. But with me in the race, the difference is more than just political philosophy. It goes well beyond that. We are talking about a whole different way of life. As president, I will sleep in the daytime and leave you alone. That is pretty much unprecedented.

Both of the major party candidates, if I may use that word, have promised to change dramatically public education in this country. But of the public money spent on education, only six percent of it is federal money.

Really? I didn't know that. But the figure is likely to change. Once we switch to the all-volunteer income tax system, people who opt to pay taxes will probably allocate a large part of their payments to schools, as opposed to other institutions. Education is very important to us hamsters. We very much want to see all creatures educated. Not just humans and rodents, or even small creatures of different sorts. I mean horses and cattle, besides. Leopards and tigers. Fish, too. Turtles. Chickens and turkeys. Aligators, camels ...

That's okay. Mr. Squat....

... dogs, pigs, monkeys, bears.... Oh, excuse me....

It's often said that, in the final analysis, about 90 percent of being the president of the United States is dealing with the unexpected, not with issues that came up in the campaign. Now, Mr. Squat, can you point to some decision, some action you have taken, that illustrates your ability to handle the unexpected...?

Yes. Plenty of them.


I said, definitely. There are quite a few things like that.

Can you tell us, give us an example?

Well, it's sort of personal, if you know what I mean. I think it's between me and my wife. It's a very personal question. It would set a bad precedent if I answered. People don't want to know about my private life. I don't want to know about theirs. I just set a good example. No cheating. No interns. No Monica. Nobody needs to know if I have trouble paying my bills, for gosh sakes...

I didn't mean your personal life. I meant, like if the stock market should take a tumble. There could be a failure of a major financial institution. What is your general attitude toward government intervention in such events?

Against it, I am. If there is a major financial crash like that, the money is worthless, right? So who makes the money? The government, we all know that. So you're talking about one of two things: either the creator of the worthless money will be trying to solve a problem it created, or else some kind of emergency situation like a war orchestrated to jump-start the economy. Bad ideas. And not workable, not at all.

Mr. Squat, are there issues of character that distinguish you from the other candidates?

Um, you really don't have to ask that, I don't think. It's apparent. I'm little. Also, my sense of right and wrong is far different from either of theirs. You know that rodents are not good at deception. We don't have the experience. It's not in our nature. Funny money games, we don't play. All the scandals that have been so much in the news over the past few years just will never, ever happen with a hamster administration. In terms of character, integrity, things of that sort, hamsters really do travel the high road. Always have.

We are running out of time. Really briefly, what is it that the voters should take from that that's relevant to this election?

What should they take from it? Well, it's one factor, an important one, in the matter of choosing how to vote. That's about it. You're running out of questions, aren't you?

Let's do campaign finance reform, just a very few words.

It's already in effect where I'm concerned. The biggest donation I've received to date is a whole coconut. That's not even worth as much as a piece of cut-up coconut because chewing through the outside of it is so much work. It's just sitting there at campaign headquarters. Still there, as far as I know. The campaign corruption stuff, it was never a problem with rodents.

Time is up. We're all out of time. A closing statement please. Not more than two or three words.

Cheeble. I love all of you. Vote hamster.

Thank you.

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