Dr. George Washington Plunkitt, our prize-winning political analyst, has recently retired from a staff position with the House Ethics Committee and is working on volume five of his memoirs, tentatively titled The Audacity of Trope. But he has graciously consented to once again advise American statespersons in these times of trouble.
Dear Mr. Plunkitt—
I know it’s early, but I’ve done some polling on a presidential run in 2016. The theme that seems to resonate, at least with voters thus far, is very simple, like Barack’s “Hope” campaign, but it capitalizes on my folksy charm:
Joe Biden 2016: It’s a big f---ing deal.
We’ve tried it all sorts of different ways: With the narrator cheerfully emphasizing the “big,” or determinedly stressing the “f--k”; with me in a suit, or just wearing an open Hawaiian shirt bare-chested. I tell you, I’m really focus-grouping this. But George, you’ve spent your life in politics. Can you see it catching on?
Joseph R. Biden
Dear Mr. Vice President—
You do have a certain quality—raw Bidenosity, if you will—that other politicians will find impossible to mimic. But you simply must offer more substance. If you base your appeal solely on the panache of your campaign slogan, you make yourself vulnerable to sexy marketing by other candidates. For instance, by the next presidential election, Anthony Weiner will be mayor of New York, and U.S. Representative Donald Payne, Jr., will have built a solid reputation for leadership. What if they team up on a White House bid?
Weiner/Payne 2016: Don’t let America get caught with its pants down.
Or who would have the guts to oppose the intimidating ticket of Franken/Slaughter 2016? If Senators Boozman and Blunt run together, they’ll lure literally dozens of votes away from the Libertarian Party. And a Labrador/Chu ticket would lock up all-important support from Chinese buffet owners. (On a related note, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge are not going into politics together, but they are launching a new NutterFudge candy bar.)
I write to applaud my forward-thinking state leaders, who have finally passed a 450-page bill scrubbing from Washington’s statutes any sexist language that unconsciously perpetuates the patriarchy. For instance, where the law once referenced something “he” might do, it now covers “he or she.” A jury foreman will henceforth be known as a jury foreperson, a patrolman as a patroller, penmanship as handwriting, and so forth.
The problem is that they haven’t gone far enough. For instance, the bill’s authors claim there is no genderless alternative to “manhole” that would avoid confusion. Let me suggest one: Hupersonhole. (“Human” simply means “of man,” so humanhole would be no better.)
Moreover, the town of Pullman must be renamed to Pullindividual, lest malleable young minds incorrectly conclude that a woman cannot also pull. Manwich sloppy joes and sloppy janes should be pulled from store shelves. I could go on. The religious right will argue that we are trying to totally androgynize society, but that argument is just a strawperson.
Feminist League of Feminists
Dear Mx. Groats—
As the humorist Jack Handy used to say, to understand mankind, we must look at the word itself, which is made up of two separate words: “mank” and “ind.”
Your proposal, my Groats, is equally absurd, only less entertaining. I’m neither feminist nor maleinist; I just think the women in your chapter are overthinking this. When Shakespeare wrote “What a piece of work man is!” he was not denigrating the ladyfolk. Nor was Neil Armstrong, when proclaiming “one giant leap for mankind,” simply toasting testosterone, wiggling the crotch of his puffy spacesuit around in a taunt to the universe.
Dear Mr. Plunkitt—
There’s been a lot of confusion over my administration’s drone program, and I’d like to set the record straight. At one point, the New York Times described me picking targets out of a deck of terrorist “baseball cards,” as if on a whim. This is simply not the case. Americans need to understand that we’ve set up all sorts of procedures and strict rules.
First, the cards are shuffled and placed facedown. Joe Biden and I each draw five cards from the deck, and we proceed in a manner similar to Go Fish.
“Do you have a jihadist with a toothbrush mustache and no beard?” “No. Go fish.”
“You have an American citizen?” “Go fish.”
When you get a pair of cards, you lay them face up; those terrorists will have to wait for the next round for their chance at martyrdom. Last card standing gets droned.
As a spectator sport, it’s still in its infancy. But ESPN has expressed interest in broadcasting it after the World Series of Poker. Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight.
Dear Mr. President—
As a strategy for national security, it’s not half bad. I mean, a private group is hoping to raise money for a Mars mission by taping the journey as a reality TV show. Why not finance our overseas endeavors the same way?
NPR could air a special Gitmo episode of Wait, Wait…Don’t Cell Me! in which detainees play for their freedom. Those suspected of withholding information would, of course, come on down as contestants on The Vise Is Right (remember to have your camels spayed or neutered). And we could sign Pat Sajak up to host thrilling episodes of Wheel of Tortune. Vanna White in fatigues? Half of America would tune in!