I met my frienemy in the park. He was seated at the picnic table with four covered mugs in front of him. I gave him a quizzical look and sat down.
Me: "What did you want to talk about?"
Him: "You always think you're so smart--with your political blogging--it's time to see if you're willing to put your money where your mouth is ... so to speak."
It's true: I think I'm pretty smart. He produced four business cards on the backs of which he'd written ROMNEY, RON PAUL, SANTORUM, and GINGRICH. He placed one of them in front of each cup.
Him: "In three of the cups I have placed liquid Drano. In the one for my chosen candidate: Coke Zero."
Me: "I've spent the last two years building up a resistance to Coke Zero."
Him: "The game is simple. You choose the first cup. I take my choice of a second--and we both drink. All you have to do is determine which candidate I am backing."
Me: "That's it?"
Him: "That's it."
Me: "That's simple."
Him: "Go for it."
Me: "It's trivial."
Him: "Then do it."
Me: "It'll be easy."
Him: "You're stalling."
Me: "You are a Republican. You consider Obama a failed president. You wish him beaten and Romney polls the best against him. Mitt Romney is statistically the best candidate to beat Obama--he has years of experience, millions of dollars, and the most endorsements."
Him: "You're done?"
Me: "I'm not even started. You also know that Romney may not quite have a literal 30% ceiling with the base but he's so unloved that his major case for his candidacy is that people the base hates, like mushy moderates and idiot independents, might like him. That's not exactly an endorsement. Plus: Donald Trump backed him--which is questionable. Finally, you are Roman Catholic by upbringing so you think Romney is a heretic. You will not happily vote for a Mormon."
I looked evenly at him.
"Clearly I cannot choose the cup in front of Romney."
Him (Smugly): "Oh no? Do go on."
Me: "Of course--but you've given the game away--you've made a fatal mistake."
Him: "What's that?"
Me: "Never go up against a political blogger when bullshit is on the line. That's down below the Sicilian one and Never Start A Land War In Asia but it's on the list."
Him: "I don't think I've seen the list."
Me: "You're a small government and personal freedom guy. You have a degree in education so you must think the Department of Education is a cancerous joke and would agree with seeing it destroyed and, perhaps most importantly, you erroneously think you're smarter than everyone else so Ron Paul would be your candidate of choice--"
Me: "--but you have studied and therefore you know that Ron Paul's foreign policy is a non-starter and you don't smoke weed. You recognize that however much you might like some of his planks he can never win an election. He would guarantee an Obama second term. So clearly I cannot choose the cup in front of Ron Paul."
His eyes narrowed.
Me: "That leaves Santorum or Gingrich. As I said, you were raised Roman Catholic but you're not a strong church goer so you may not like Santorum's overtly religious style. Still, you talk about the evils of giving contraception to middle schoolers so you might well misunderstand his whole focus on that issue and think you actually agree with him."
Him: "He's in favor of giving contraception to middle schoolers!?"
Me: "So you are primed to be a Santorum voter--but Santorum is in favor of the SOPA bill and you have illegally downloaded every season of Doctor Who so you can never forgive him his anti-piracy stance."
He glared. "Those are art."
Me: "So clearly I cannot choose the cup in front of Santorum. That leaves Gingrich. You like him because he will fight and you shrugged off Cain's alleged philandering so you can forgive him his three wives. You are unmarried and therefore not a family values guy so that's a plus for Newt."
Him: "Okay? Ready--then choose and drink!"
Me: "However, you know that Gingrich is now, at best, a spoiler. Women are a key demographic and he is in the sub-basement with them. Plus, although you, Doctor Who, might like a Moon Base, it plays into his anti-narrative of being a guy with wild ideas who can't deliver. Also he wanted an open marriage which you know would be poison in the general not to mention he's out of money. Clearly I cannot choose the cup in front of Gingrich."
Him: "But ... that's all of them."
Me: "Right! You've done this because you know you don't have a candidate. I'd normally have to think outside the box--but you've slipped up and given it away. The secret is--WAIT!! WHAT'S THAT!??"
He looked where I'd pointed--over his shoulder and I lifted the lid off the Gingrich cup. I figured he thought Gingrich was a pervert and I'd seen his private JPEG collection last time I tech-supported his computer. As I thought: Coke Zero.
Him: "I don't see anything."
Me: "Probably nothing. Let's drink."
It turned out the bastard had filled all the cups with Coke Zero. He's probably writing in Jeb Bush.