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Step Aside, Reporters — Poets Take On The Debate


And finally this hour, it's time for a literary take on one of our top stories today. Reporters step aside. Spin doctors drop those talking points. We've asked two writers to reflect on last night's debate in poetry. One from the right and one from the left. This is still politics, after all. First up, conservative commentator Mark Steyn, author of the book, "After America: Get Ready for Armageddon." He was inspired by the fact that last night's debate coincided with the president's 20th wedding anniversary.

MARK STEYN: So, Barack asked Michelle, do you think it went well? By the candles she'd never looked fairer. But her tongue was a first and she silently cursed whoever signed off on Jim Lehrer. And she glanced down at her meringue which sat forlornly on her plate, on "Hard Ball," his body language had been rated less than great. He said you do still love me? She said as years flew by I've never looked at another man. And tonight he said, neither did I. His wedding anniversary between Whoop and Beyonce, his crepe time had been cursory, now came his plaintive lay. Do not forsake me media darlings, on this my wedding day. He said, toast to the bride, and Michelle gaily cried, a toast to the groom I submit. And he said with elan, let's toast the best man, and everyone cried, to Mitt. And as champagne cork pops rang in their ears, he gazed at his love and he sighed. Does it really feel like 20 long years? And that's just tonight, she replied.

BLOCK: Some debate poetry from Mark Steyn. And the last word goes to Calvin Trillin, author of the upcoming "Dog Fight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse."

CALVIN TRILLIN: In all this first debate was heavy going. Statistics failed to get the juices flowing. Some pundit somewhere must have sighed that when he said details worked he hadn't meant so many. It got so thick, so lacking in one liners, that people fell asleep in their recliners. Of those awake when all was said and done, most had this thought, the challenger had won. He practiced his debating skills with care and not, it's clear, against an empty chair. Mitt's answers, whether factual or not, were clear and crisp and all those answers got delivered with a quite commanding style. The president seemed listless for a while, less certain of the points that he would share and wishing he were anyplace but there. In spin room chats Mitt's men were all aglow. Barack, they said, no longer has big mo. The press found this a scrumptious dish to swallow. It meant they had a horse race still to follow.

BLOCK: So there you have it, from Calvin Trillin and Mark Steyn, the debates in verse. Or, since it rhymes, news you can use. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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