Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Scene from the Oval Office


Act II, Scene III


THE PRESIDENT welcomes POLITICAL OPERATIVE and they take a seat on a couch.

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  Mr. President – what if I told you I had a fool proof way of losing fewer independent votes than expected?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m listening.

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  We crushed this demographic in 2008 because you were a rock star...that star has faded and we’re going to lose some of those votes.  The key is limiting those losses. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Star has faded?  Really?  

THE PRESIDENT grabs and opens a White House micro brew off the coffee table and gestures to the POLITICAL OPERATIVE offering him one, the POLITICAL OPERATIVE shakes his head and continues.

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  Yes, and yes.  The truth will set you free, Mr. President.  Current circumstances make it difficult for us to brighten your star, so in order to keep the equation in our favor, we need to dim the Republican star.  You know, cut down their legs to make us look taller?

THE PRESIDENT:  Uh…OK, but how do we do that?

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  A Republican “War on Women.”

THE PRESIDENT:  A "War on Iran" or a "War on Immigrants"...maybe, but a "War on Women"?  Why would they wage war on half the electorate!

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  They would never voluntarily start a "War on Women" - so we have to create the illusion that they have.  If you’re an independent voter, what’s the one thing that makes you most concerned with voting for a Republican?
THE PRESIDENT stands up and walks over to the window, and gazes into the dark night, beer in hand.

THE PRESIDENT:  Other than having to lie at cocktail parties?  

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  Exactly, the root of that shame is voting for someone with out-dated social beliefs.  Scores of independents are fiscally conservative and have a big problem with our progressive economic policies, but they are not registered as Republicans because they are allergic to the highly religious and uber-conservative social views of the Republican Party. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Me too...remember that one time when Boehner was...

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  I'm sorry Mr. President, but the taxpayers are on the clock and I'm very expensive.  The question is how do we best exploit that tension?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, sorry, that is most certainly the question.

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  The answer is a two prong attack.  First, we pick a fight with religion, specifically the Catholic Church, by issuing a seemingly banal requirement out of HHS that all insurance policies must cover items like birth control pills, abortions, the day after pill - all for free.

THE PRESIDENT:  But doesn't everyone like free stuff?

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  Yes, but the Church and the far right will object to paying for things that for which they have moral objections.  They will say it’s an attack on their religious freedom.  Fox News will be apoplectic about our "over-reaching attack on religious freedom."  All of this will play right into our hands.  We let the fervor reach a boil and then characterize their objection as a “War on Women.”  It will have no basis in reality, but will sell like hotcakes to the public, particularly those independents who are already weary of the Republican social agenda.   We get women’s groups to shout “How dare a group of old white guys try and control my body!”  It will be beautiful.

THE PRESIDENT:  But I need the Catholic vote, I can’t alienate them!

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  If the heat gets too hot, you can offer Cardinal Dolan some meaningless compromise that puts the Catholic Church back in line, yet only serves to stoke the fire on the far right.  It’s a win/win.  Then once you’re re-elected, you can just pull back the HHS ruling or provide a blanket exception to not-for-profits.  No harm, no foul.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re a genius, an evil, evil genius. 

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  That’s not all, the second prong of the attack is to get our media allies to ask questions about abortion ad nauseam with every far right candidate from the middle America.

THE PRESIDENT:  But hasn’t this been settled law for decades?

POLITICAL OPERATIVE:  Yes, but that won't stop Republicans from talking nonsense on the issue.  With the proper monitoring, we’re sure to find one or two candidates going off script and saying something incredibly stupid.  We can then use those comments as more evidence of the Republican “War on Women” - adding more shame to any independent thinking about voting Republican. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Wow.  I'm impressed.  Done and done.  
THE PRESIDENT stands up and walks over to his phone and dials a number.

THE PRESIDENT:  I'm sending over a friend, do what he says and write him a blank check.  


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