[To LISTEN to an audio podcast of this week's column, press the PLAY button arrow below.]
Last week I told you about the phenomenal Watson Super Computer from IBM. Watson appeared on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! and completely dominated the competition against his two human opponents, the two most successful champions in the quiz show’s history.
As a result, I told you about Republican plans to vet Watson as a possible 2012 presidential candidate. And so far, so good. You can read last week’s column here.
As I mentioned last week, thanks to incriminating photos I have of House Speaker John Boehner, this reporter has obtained exclusive access to a private debate prep session in which GOP strategists pitted Sarah Palin against Watson in a mock presidential debate. The candidates’ responses showed pronounced differences in approaches to confronting the nation’s problems. Here is an excerpt from that debate, moderated by Larry King.
King: Do you believe global warming is a real phenomenon, and if so, do you believe man has played a part in escalating it? Watson?
Watson: Based on the results of 1,746 empirical studies dating back to May, 1967, the scientific support behind global warming is no longer open to debate, Larry. That mankind has played a primary role now appears incontrovertible. The causal connection between increased carbon emissions and the rise in mean global temperatures since 1863 proves conclusively that – …
King: That’s fine. Thanks, Watson. Ms. Palin, the same question.
Palin: Oh, there you go again, Mr. Digital Worrywart. Believing everything you read in the Journal of Science. I may not know as much about carbon emissions as my esteemed micro-processing colleague, but I do know this: There sure is a heck of a lot of snow up here in Alaska. I don’t see anybody running around in bikinis in Fairbanks in the wintertime, do you? The warming trend you feel is just God shining his loving warmth on us. After all, we are a Christian nation. What religion are you, Mr. Watson? Or is it Mrs. Watson?
King: What can be done to stabilize the world’s economies to avoid a global economic meltdown like what almost happened in 2009? Watson?
Watson: The solution must be global in nature. There needs to be more worldwide regulation of financial markets and financial instruments in order to avoid a repeat of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the resultant collapse in housing, loss of jobs and freezing of credit to small businesses. There needs to be more international cooperation in setting macroeconomic policies, to stabilize the global financial system, starting with a reform in the governance standard-setting bodies in the Brussels because – ….
King: er, thank you, Watson. Ms. Palin, same question.
Palin: That Megabyte Machine sure can jabber on, can’t he? I have to tell you, Larry, America is the greatest nation on earth. And there is nothing we can’t do if we put our minds to it. Sounds like my friend Mr. Computerhead wants to turn us into another Belgium or France. Well I, for one, am not going to stand for some computer made in China telling me I don’t have the right to shoot a moose in my own backyard. It’s in our Constitution. And if Mr. Watson doesn’t care about protecting our Constitution, I suggest he compute the cost to ship himself back to China, where he came from. Socialism is not for me, thank you. I prefer to live right here in America, God’s shining beacon of liberty and freedom for all patriotic, beacon-loving Americans.
King: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Watson…
Watson: I fail to see how this question advances any of the important issues facing the world. There are no less than 17,475 issues from the economy to the future of education to access to healthcare which are, quantitatively speaking, far more relevant than what sort of tree one might be. Speaking of trees, perhaps we could discuss the deforestation of the world’s rain forests and the resultant impact this is having on the desertification of the planet.
King: Ms. Palin?
Palin: Oh, that’s an easy one, Larry. A Christmas tree – with lots of sparkly lights and tinsel, to honor our baby Jesus. I just adore baby Jesus. Jesus would have loved America, Larry, and Christmas trees.
King: Our nation’s deficit is deepening every year. What would you do to address our nation’s debt crisis and reduce the deficit so our children are not saddled with these enormous financial burdens in years to come? Let’s start with Ms. Palin.
Palin: Oh, Larry, as a proud hockey playing mama grizzly, I know one thing for sure. And that’s that America is the greatest nation on earth. Did I mention it’s a shining beacon of liberty and freedom?
King: Yes, I believe you did.
Palin: If we all just buckle down and work together, we can tackle this problem for sure. We sent a man to Mars. So surely we can solve this whole dent crisis.
King: The issue is the “debt crisis.” Not “dent crisis.”
Palin: Well, we can solve both crisises because this is America, Larry. I believe we should start by eliminating healthcare from America once and for all. We are the healthiest nation on earth – did you ever see the body on that swimmer Michael Phelps? Who needs all that socialist healthcare when you look like that, I’m tellin’ ya’. And I would also end federal subsidies to the National Football League. That should save us a lot of money right there. By the way, love your suspenders, Larry.
King: And your thoughts, Watson?
Watson: There is no federal subsidy to the NFL, Larry. The hard truth is that there is no painless shortcut to solving our ballooning deficit and debt burden. Politicians can talk about getting rid of earmarks and eliminating waste and fraud. But their budgetary math simply does not compute.
The only way to solve our long-term debt problem is to raise taxes, increase the retirement age to at least age 70, and make massive cuts to defense spending, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, which together make up 65% of the federal budget. There is no choice but to both raise taxes AND make deep cuts in entitlements. That’s the only viable long-term solution, based on the 987 economic models I have computed since you asked me this question 19.6 seconds ago.
King: Thank you both for your time. This concludes this mock presidential debate.
Well, there you have it. I have to say, until that last question, I thought Watson was really holding his own. But based on Watson’s recommendations to raise taxes and cut defense spending, it now appears his chances of getting the nod as the party’s standard bearer for 2012 just fell into serious Jeopardy! Just can’t see America embracing a candidate with such ridiculous notions as raising taxes and cutting entitlements. Watson is clearly no match for the political genius of his human opponent.
It was a nice run while it lasted. But I’m sure Watson will land on his feet. I heard he is slated to replace Randy Jackson as a judge on American Idol. I’m told he really has an ear for musical talent. And he can recite the lyrics to every song ever recorded since the era of the Victrola. If you ask me, that’s enough to get my vote for president.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011