TO: JOHN KERRY, Republican mole
From: Karl Rove, White House political adviser
I just wanted to let you know that the game plan is working perfectly. By all logic, the president should be packing boxes for his move back to Crawford by now. He's got a sluggish economy, Iraq is turning into such a disaster that even Republicans accuse the president of "incompetence," and Martha Stewart is going to jail while Osama bin Laden is free as a bird.
Given all this, the Democrats had every reason to think they not only could defeat George W. Bush - again! - but actually put their guy in the White House. Unfortunately for them, they made the mistake of nominating our guy, who is merely pretending to be their guy. And now they can't figure out why the campaign is going badly. Their naivete is almost touchingly childlike. You'd think they'd never heard of Richard Nixon or dirty tricks.
But in all seriousness, let's review some of the tactics we've implemented. They fall into the following categories:
# Making Michael Dukakis look good. People thought he looked like a doofus riding in a tank wearing that goofy helmet. But you outdid him when you put on an anticontamination suit to tour the space shuttle orbiter. You looked like one of those sausages that race around the field at the Milwaukee Brewers' home games.
Those windsurfing suits are almost as bad, so put them on any chance you get. I'll keep you posted on our plan to have you visit a fire station and put on a firefighter's helmet - backward!
# Impersonating Thurston Howell III. One of the ways rich politicians show their kinship with Joe Sixpack is speaking the universal language of sports. But you've cleverly "bungled" every opportunity to show your sports savvy. You went to Michigan and said, "There is nothing better than Buckeye football." You said your favorite Red Sox player of all time was Eddie Yost, who never played for Boston. Maybe I'm overoptimistic, but that last one might even put Massachusetts in play this year.
Those remarks were scripted by our crack staff, of course, but they didn't equal your brilliant ad lib when you showed up in Green Bay and made a reference to the Packers' "Lambert Field" - when everyone this side of Paris knows it's "Lambeau." The only thing that could have hurt the Democratic ticket more in the Dairy State is to confess that you're lactose-intolerant.
# Creating your own woman problem. Bill Clinton had Gennifer and Monica, but you've got Teresa. It was shrewd to equip you with a fabulously wealthy wife who speaks with a foreign accent, but Mrs. Kerry has expanded the role far beyond my fondest hopes. That speech she gave at the Democratic convention - well, I haven't witnessed such a prolonged display of self-absorption since Alanis Morissette's last CD.
One of our biggest challenges this year is finding a way to help President Bush among black voters who would rather eat dirt than vote Republican. But for a rich white lady to proclaim herself "African-American" might cause them to reconsider.
Marie Antoinette has nothing on your main squeeze. I loved that remark about the hurricane victims in the Caribbean needing food and electricity more than clothing: "Let them go naked for a while, at least the kids." My only worry is that it might pull in a lot of the pedophile vote.
# Making yourself look hopelessly confused on Iraq. Honestly, who could have imagined one U.S. senator could come up with a different position for every day of the week? At this point, I doubt God himself could figure out what you really think about Iraq. But here's what you can do to seal the deal: I'll plant a question at your next town hall meeting, asking what colors you'd like to see in a new Iraqi flag. Your answer: "Plaid."
Maybe we should scratch that idea. If you do too good a job of botching this campaign, people may start to figure out that you're actually working for us. For that matter, I wonder if we've gone too far already.
So I'll tell you what. For the time being, do your best to look like a competent politician who wants to win the election. I know it's a stretch, but try. Really.
Steve Chapman is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. His column appears Tuesdays and Fridays in The Sun.