THE BLOG

The Skinny on Partisan Campaign Pledges

07/27/2011 11:23 am ET | Updated Sep 26, 2011

The only pledge a candidate for public office should make is one that reads something like:

"I, _________________, pledge to represent the interests of my constituents and my country to the best of my ability and without regard to my personal enrichment or the impact on my chances of getting elected to an even higher office."

Instead, just about every interest group has a very specific litmus test candidates must pass or a long laundry list of positions on issues they demand a candidate swear to oppose or support in order to secure their seal of approval. The absurdity of some of these things gained notoriety when Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed a pledge that, among a list of rather extreme positions, noted the positive family-values impact slavery had on African-American children in the pre-Civil War days. Many were shocked to hear that there was a silver lining hiding inside the dark cloud of slavery. Who knew?

Why not just cut through the bull and start telling it like it is? The commitments expected from the two extremes seem to go something like this.

The Liberal Pledge: I will support the liberal tradition of not being able to make a decision about anything. For example, if we are offered a free lunch, given only two restaurants to choose from, and provided menus a week in advance, we'll stand in the lobby arguing over chicken fried chicken or sushi until lunchtime is over and we have to go back to our offices pissed off and hungry.

I will never vote to put anyone in a liberal leadership position if he or she has a shred of charisma. I will only vote for a leader who (1) has a tone of voice that induces narcolepsy in insomniacs or (2) a pitch that is similar to long fingernails raked slowly across a chalkboard. Why choose leaders that are likeable when you can have ones that cause people to fall asleep or cringe?

I will pretend that my Blue Dog "colleagues" are actually on our team even though it seems a lot like allowing an opponent to have a player in the huddle when we're calling our plays.

I will comment frequently on how in touch I am with ordinary people, which of course I am. There are always a ton of ordinary people at my fundraisers. They put up the tents, park the cars, schlep the drinks, and bus the tables for my liberal elite fat-cat donors ... and they do a nice job, so I am comfortable praising the hard work of ordinary Americans.

I will support free hand sanitizer for elected officials in case we ever actually touch an ordinary American - who knows where those people might have been and whether they wash their hands.

The Conservative Pledge: I acknowledge that prior to January 20, 2009, Satan was the greatest evil the world had ever known.

I will defend the Constitution and the Bible as literal documents that are unchanging for all time. History, on the other, I believe is subject to being fine-tuned on Wikipedia by my supporters if the truth interferes with my narrative or I just blurt out something really stupid that makes me sound like a total dolt.

I support freedom of religion. People are free to choose anywhere along the spectrum from Baptist to Presbyterian. There are a few other so-called religions I will publicly tolerate and promise not to joke about except to people I know and trust not to forward my emails. I agree with Herman Cain about Muslims, except for the one that owns a big chunk of Fox News (or as I call FNC, the Good Lord's megaphone).

I will never yield on the right to bear arms, including guns in public schools (the fact my kids are home-schooled is immaterial to my belief), although guns should not be allowed in public buildings if elected officials are present. Guns are fine in your workplace, but not mine.

I will stand up for the people ... and some of the finest people I know are large corporations.

I will defend the right to free speech. That includes the sage Supreme Court decision that money is a highly cherished form of speech. I am particularly moved by the lovely voices of corporations; in fact, donations to my campaign from the firearms industry sound like a choir of angels.

I acknowledge that Glenn Beck is the greatest intellectual in modern America. The fact he only has a high school diploma is indisputable proof that post-secondary education is unnecessary and that public universities represent wasteful government spending.

I recognize that it is wrong to worship anyone or anything other than God. Therefore, I only display fawning adulation for Sarah Palin and reject any suggestion that my blind devotion rises to the level of worship. I will applaud wildly when she holds up her superior family values and shakes them in faces of the Godless liberals and I will pretend not to notice when some unseemly incident happens that causes her family values to fall down around her ankles, metaphorically speaking, and makes her appear to be a big old hypocrite. I will never question why her movie is called The Undefeated when she was defeated in 2008 and just up and quit prematurely in 2009.

I know that the Koch brothers were not among our Founding Fathers. They are our Funding Fathers.

I pledge that if there is an opportunity to start a new movement at some point in the future I will Google any proposed name for said movement and subject it to the Vitter-blush test (if saying the words make Vitter blush it's a bad choice) to ensure there is no deviant subtext to the title that may prove embarrassing.