Dec 062013

First thing today was a consultation with Magnus Cockburnor, Rebranding and Message Adjustment Subject Matter Expert for the National Republican Congressional Committee.  To say that he was a distracted, nervous wreck would be the understatement of the month – although to be fair, it’s only the sixth.
“Tom,” he confessed as he anxiously perched on the edge of the chair situated directly in front of my desk, “things are not going very well on my latest project for the NRCC.”
“What,” I inquired, “is the nature of that project?”
“To teach Republican senate and congressional candidates how to… um… manage their campaigns against women – in those cases, of course, where they are running against Democrat women – and otherwise, how to, at a minimum, avoid offending women voters in their attempts at re-election to their seats while running against Democrats in general,” he sighed.
“You poor SOB,” I thought to myself, “whatever made you answer a request for proposal to do something like that?”  Then, out loud, I inquired, “And what are your major challenges?”
“Challenges?” Cockburnor huffed.  “Okay, for starters, how about getting them – or even one of their staff, for that matter – to show up in the first place?  Then, after that miracle, how about getting them to listen?”
“Listen to what?” I probed.
“First of all,” he related, “there’s the problem statement, which is that in the last election, women preferred President Barack Obama to challenger Mitt Romney by eleven percentage points, and that was followed by a ten-point increase in the Republicans’ unfavorability rating among women to sixty-three percent.  Moreover, recent polls show a continued double-digit lead for Democratic candidates among women, and the margins jump to even higher levels among single female voters. Furthermore, during the last election, exit polling indicates that key Republican candidates lost their electoral bids by saying things that offended women voters.  For example, there was Todd Akin, who told the media during his campaign that women rarely get pregnant after being the victim of what he referred to as a ‘legitimate rape,’ whatever that is; and Richard Mourdock, who told the world that rapes are ‘something God intended to happen.’  Then there’s Senator Saxby Chambliss, who said that sexual assaults on women in the military are caused by the same hormones that make the men involved motivated to fight and defend America, which, based on my training in psychology is probably true, but certainly doesn’t excuse rape.  And then there’s that House Judiciary hearing on his abortion bill Wednesday, when Representative Trent Franks spoke to a congressional committee in opposition to an exemption to federal funding for rape victims’ abortions in his bill because ‘the incidence of rapes resulting in pregnancy are very low.’  So therefore, we tell them, House Speaker John Boehner has concluded that there’s a problem, and the problem is that, as he put it, ‘some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they ought to be’ to women and women’s issues.”
“Well, how could they manage that,” I asked, “When the conservative media they all watch and listen to spend so much time and energy engaged in extreme misogynist rhetoric?  You have Rush Limbaugh making nearly fifty direct, personal attacks on Sandra Fluke, who did nothing more than testify before Congress in favor of affordable contraception.  Limbaugh called her a ‘prostitute’ and ‘slut’ for nothing more than exercising her constitutional rights and speaking her mind to our national legislature about – wait for it – women’s issues.  And last month, as I recall, Limbaugh compared Senate filibuster rules changes to support of legislation to ‘allow women to be raped,’ and suggested that women in the military deliberately synchronize their menstrual cycles so they will be ‘ready to be banshees’ and asserted that advertisements for Obamacare’s coverage of birth control conveyed the message to young women that ‘if you like being a prostitute, then have at it.’  Plus, there’s Erick Erickson, a regular Fox contributor, who called Wendy Davis, the Texas politician to fought against conservative restrictions on women’s rights ‘abortion Barbie’ and then suggested she’s insane.  These are the people your seminar participants take as gospel.  You certainly can’t expect your job to be an easy one.”
“We try,” Cockburnor insisted, “to provide them with a consistent message to change the subject whenever so-called women’s issues arise in debates or interviews.”
“You’re teaching them,” I sought to confirm, “that instead of risking the public pronouncement of any Looney Tunes theories they have about women, they should change the subject to jobs, economic growth, lower taxes and continued interest rate reductions instead?”
“Yeah,” he shrugged, “basically.  The NRCC leadership loves that approach, too, but when we do the follow-up testing, the results show that teaching Republican members of Congress to simply change the subject when various, uh… feminist issues… arise in debates or interviews has its potential pitfalls.  First of all, the vast majority simply lack the necessary personal discipline to keep their mouths shut, despite the stakes being ridiculously high.  And second, even the ones who can manage to put a sock in it can’t substitute a talk about economic issues that appeal to women and manage to come across as sincere in our focus group studies.  The bottom line is, these guys have a lot to learn.  So tell me, Tom, how do I teach it to them?”
“What you need to do,” I advised, “is to put them in touch with their feminine sides.”

“Feminine… sides?” Cockburnor gasped.  “But Tom!  These are conservative Republicans – including members of the Tea Party faction!”
“Nevertheless,” I assured him, “that’s the quickest and most effective way of eliminating their… inappropriate campaign behaviors and minimizing overall political risk for the Republican party.”
“Okay, then, in that case,” he implored, “what do you recommend?”
“To begin with,” I pointed out, “one of the best ways to bring out their feminine side would be for them to put on some women’s undergarments.”
“Did you say ‘undergarments?’” Cockburnor whispered, aghast.
“Precisely,” I confirmed.  “Get their sizes and have your assistants acquire the necessary items at speciality boutiques.  You’re going to need nylon panty hose, silk pointelles, satin hip panties, high-cuts, howlers, thongs, micro fiber bikini cuts, invisibles, lace boy-shorts, mesh girl-briefs, cotton high legs, cheekies, cheekinis, mini-cheeksters, tangas, strings and open-panels.” 
“Hold on,” he murmured as he furiously typed on his phablet, “those are all… what?”
“Those are all for… downstairs,” I clarified, “the first layer. Now, upstairs, you’re going to need bras – standard, backless, under-wire, corsets, wireless, bandeau, strapless, T-shirt, bralette, sport, demi, convertible, push-up, long-line, racer back, bustier, unlined and tanks.”
“I had no idea,” he exclaimed, “there were so many kinds of these things – this going to be complicated!”
“But worth it,” I assured him.  “They should wear their tops and bottoms for at least an entire day underneath their business suits.”
“Oh, my God,” he muttered, “under their suits?  All day?  Then what?”
“Then,” I continued, “you move on to Day Two – slips, body suits, undergowns or chemise with garters and stockings.  Then, it will be time for them to start trying on dresses, skirts and culottes, and creating tasteful ensembles with various blouses – scoop neck, V-neck, crown neck, double-strap, drop-waist, halter and so forth; plus a variety of tunics, jumpers, camisoles, oxfords, sweaters, jackets, scarves and high-heel shoes.”
“High heel shoes?” Cockburnor yelped.
“Oh yes,” I confirmed.  “As with the clothing, get their sizes accurately and make sure your assistants offer the congressmen and senators a suitable selection of pumps, wedges, platforms, peep-toes, booties, D’Orsays, sling-backs, T-straps, espadrilles, slides, Mary Janes, and, of course thongs.”
“Thongs again?” Cockburnor blushed.  “You mean, they could wear thong underwear and thong shoes?”
“No only could they,” I remarked, “I’d suggest they try it.”
“And they’re going to have to learn how to walk in high heels?” Cockburnor fretted.
“Absolutely,” I told him.  “If they complain, remind them that it’s an essential experience for getting in touch with their feminine side.  There’s nothing better to help a man understand what it’s like to walk a mile in a woman’s shoes than doing it in pair of four-inch heels.  Next, you should have them pair off for makeup sessions.”
“Makeup?” Cockburnor shuddered.  “You can’t be serious!”
“Serious as a heart attack,” I calmly asserted.  “Women like to get together with a girl friend and put makeup on each other.  And I guarantee, no Republican congressman who has learned how to properly apply blush matching a Republican senator’s skin highlights is ever going to say anything crude, demeaning or insensitive about women in public again.  Then, of course, there will be the wigs.  Your assistants should take high resolution digital photos of the Republican congressmen and senators in natural daylight so they can obtain wigs that properly compliment the complexions of their subjects, and…”
“You’re turning these men into drag queens!” Cockburnor protested.  “Once we get done with all this, they’re going to look like guests on the Ru Paul Show!”
“No,” I corrected, “if you and your assistants do your jobs right, they are going to look better than the guests on the Ru Paul Show.  And at that point, not only will they be in touch with their feminine side, they will also be completely prepared to visit a bar in Dupont Circle and reach out to the gay community, in which, I would note, the polls all say the Democrats also have a huge voting lead over the Republicans.”
“Christ, what next?” Cockburnor wailed.
“Next,” I informed him, “they all put on Lululemon outfits and do yoga together for three hours – and see if you can find an instructor who makes Richard Simmons look and sound macho.  Follow that with a Mary Kay pajama party, a Tupperware party, an AIDS quilting party, and a ‘girl’s night in’ party with popcorn, pizza delivery, plenty of pinot grigio, loads of Blue Bunny ice cream and a slate of the most popular romantic comedies, shown on a big-screen HDTV.”
“And then?” Cockburnor winced as he threw me a sidelong glance.
“And then you will be done,” I asserted. “That course of treatment would make Ted Nugent give Chuck Norris a big fuzzy bear hug.”
“All right,” Cockburnor said with an air of finality as he rose to shake my hand.  “I’ll present your plan to the NRCC.  But before I leave, are there any… precautions involved?”
“Well,” I averred, “if those guys suddenly all start menstruating on the same day, discontinue the program immediately.”