If the Presidential Debates were Moderated by Science Fiction Fans...

MODERATOR: Welcome to the first World Science Fiction Presidential Debate, sponsored by Tor Books and Baen Books. Let's start right off. What do you think about the threat of clones and/or cyborgs replacing middle-class workers? Mr. President?

BUSH: I'm against it. In my administration, no cloning will go for money. I was talking with Tommy Franks just the other day about cloning. The President has to be strong on cloning. You have to make decisions. My opponent has been in the Senate since the end of eternity, and he has never once made any. Decisions. And that's bad. The American people expect cloning to be against God's will. It's like abortion with stem cells, which I supported very much, it's important, it's the beginning of the start of something, but there's morality. The President has to be moral.

MODERATOR: Senator Kerry, a rebuttal?

KERRY: I'm glad you asked that question. Considering that cloning is, at the moment, a theoretical venture, we must be certain that what I voted for is what was enacted, which, if you consider what this administration has accomplished, is very little. It's a complicated issue. The President has shown no leadership on this subject, and it's a subject we can't approach with folded hands. My plan will accomodate clones and non-clones, it will allow cyborg technology to be explicated by the best minds in the universe, and it will cut the deficit in half.

MODERATOR: How do you feel about genre-bending movements such as The New Weird and Interstitial Arts? Are they a threat to the purity of science fiction and fantasy? Senator Kerry?

KERRY: I believe that we can have a large movement all together, and that the tent we live in -- or, rather, everyone here but the President and I and, I'm sorry to say, you Mr. Moderator [chuckles] -- that tent -- it's large and can contain multitudes. What's new and weird is the President's approach in Iraq. If we had made alliances, we would have an interstitial approach to foreign policy, but at the moment, the failed policies of this administration have given us a maze of death which our troops are dying inside.


BUSH: What's new and weird is my opponent's love for Saddam Hussein. Look, I don't know half of what he's talking about, I don't understand any of the words he's using, but I know I'm right. And that's not weird, and it's not new.

MODERATOR: What happened to the science in science fiction? Have we forgotten the future? Mr. Bush?

BUSH: Science is good. But so is God. We need to be careful. I know what you're asking. Your question is about Iraq. If we had used stem cells in Iraq, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and my opponent would like that. You see, being President is a tough job. It's always about the future. I am the future. I am God.

MODERATOR: Senator Kerry, a rebuttal?

KERRY: This administration hates science, and they hate the future. I'm going to be the President who believes in science, even if it's science fiction, which is about the future, and when I was in Vietnam I thought many times about the future. Let the President call me wishy-washy, let him say I vacillate -- the choice is yours, the future and science, or fuzzy math and deficits and more jobs lost than any President in 72 years, which, when factored by five, becomes the phone number for Dick Cheney's office if you just rearrange some of the digits, and I'm concerned about that, I'm deeply concerned, because I did not vote for it, even though the President will try to convince you that I did, but we know the truth. The future of science is fiction, and we can all agree on that, even if we think differently.

MODERATOR: Is the fantasy genre too dominated by the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien? Mr. President?

BUSH: When I was young, yes, I did things I was not proud of, including some fantasies. I had fantasies. But I am a different man now. I don't approve of all that. We passed the Defense of Marriage Act because of the influence of fantasies. Some people say that was a bad decision, but the President has got to be willing to make bad decisions. Unpopular decisions. Decisions. About things. That are real. Not fantasies. My opponent is a fantasy. He sits at home and comes up with numbers that just don't add up, and then he doesn't vote for them. He is Saddam Hussein. Still in power. That's a fantasy. We're supporting the troops. There are jobs that have been created. Real life. No fantasy.

MODERATOR: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Boy, to listen to that -- the President, I don't think, is living in a world of reality, and if the Red Sox win the World Series that will be because the deficit has been cut in half by the descendants of J.R.R. Tolkien. It was the Clinton Administration that created the Defense of Marriage Act, and here is the President trying to take credit for that great deed, a deed I approve of and voted for, just like I voted for killing Saddam Hussein, but we must never forget that Mervyn Peake was not a writer to be underestimated, and I have respect, great respect, for people who claim him as their predecessor. Let me just say to you, though -- number one, don't throw the labels around. Labels don't mean anything, and what we need to do is see the world as one large alliance of different types of people who have not been brought together by this administration because they are unwilling to see that there are multiple paths toward any one problem, and that problems are complex, and complexity can be the basic sword used to capture the ring of the dark lords, like Saddam Hussein, who I voted against, even though he wasn't in Afghanistan, which was right, and I promise you my administration will go to Afghanistan and kill the dark lords.

MODERATOR: Final statements. Why should a science fiction fan vote for you? Mr. President?

BUSH: Because the future is important. The future is tomorrow, it's not yesterday. If you change horses in midstream, then Saddam Hussein would still be in power. Do I own a timber company? Do you want some wood? The world changed after 9/11, and I think science fiction knows that. I think people are smart. Not everyone can go to Yale, though, and that's why I'm going to triumph in November.

KERRY: I would like to end with a song. [Sings in a deep voice:]
When Summer lies upon the world,
and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves
the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool,
and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me,
and say my land is best!

MODERATOR: And that concludes our debate. Thank you everyone, and may the Force be with you in November.