brucekluger.com

    Salon.com, August 24, 2001

    Memo to George #5
    Hey, Mr. Prez—while you're in clearing brush at Crawford, let's
    start thinking about football, sex and "Communities of Character."

    By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin


    INTEROFFICE MEMO

    VIA FAX: CONFIDENTIAL

    Date: August 24th, 2001
    To: The President
    From: Andrew H. Card, Jr., Chief of Staff
    Re: Communities of Character: Re-think
    cc: Karl, Karen

    Mr. President:

    Holy mother of Godzilla. You’re making Page One on vacation more than you do
    when you’re at the Big Desk in the Double-O. But don’t—I repeat—don’t pull the
    plug on your R&R. Just keep snagging bass in the Crawford pond, and try your
    best to plow through McCullough’s John Adams snore-fest (sit tight—Dick says Cliff
    Notes are on the way). We’ll put out the brush fires.

    For example: In the wake of all these new charges that we totally blew the budget
    surplus—led by that DNC dork Terry (“I Wanna Be Like Bill”) McAuliffe—we
    considered a variety of responses and decided to go with this succinct rejoinder:
    “Yeah? So what?” (Okay, so it doesn’t have the kind of hard numbers that give
    Greenspan a woody, but it buys us time.) And as for John ("Can I Buy Another
    Vowel?”) Dilulio’s resignation from our Faith-Based ops, not to worry: Everybody
    stopped paying attention to that circus the moment you delivered your stem-cell
    masterpiece. (Which reminds me: May I just say three words about that final
    decree? King Friggin’ Solomon! What a balancing act, boss! Are you sure W
    doesn't stand for Wallenda?)

    In any case, as we these nurse these b-list bunions on our Administrative piggies,
    here’s what you may want to start thinking about for your return: Ari tells me that
    our Communities of Character plan isn’t goosing Ma and Pa Kettle like we thought it
    would. As touchy-feely as our original blueprint was—curbing truancy, promoting
    adoption, gang prevention—polls say we’re still flat-lining in La-Z Boy Land. Even
    Karl’s mission to seduce the 3 C’s (chicks, Chicanos and Catholics) is yielding a
    case of blueballs the size of the Rotunda. Conclusion: We need to toss some
    cayenne into the C of C stew. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

    1. TACKLING DUMMIES: As a red-blooded, dove-shooting, rib-gnawing Texan,
    you know nothing brings out the stars-and-stripes in a man like football. And since
    our South Lawn Tee-Ball games were such a hit this summer, Dick decided it’s time
    to slap on the shoulder pads. Coming this fall to America’s backyard, it’s
    Congressional Flag Football: Republicans vs. Democrats, mano-a-wimpo—a.k.a.,
    time to kick some serious donkey butt. The Dems may love pork, but they’re gonna
    hate pigskin when we’re through with them.

    Think of the match-up: We’ve got former All-American JC Watts at QB, throwing the
    ball to former All-Pro wide receiver Steve Largent, and former Nebraska head
    coach Tom Osborne running the show. And who’ve the Dems got—Barney Frank at
    tight end? (Obviously the guy can’t play center—who’d want to take the hike?)
    Personally, I can’t wait to see Dick “The Stick” Gephardt get steamrolled by “Big”
    Dick Armey on a power sweep. Mmm, baby. (We do have to watch out for NYC’s
    Jerry Nadler, though—the guy’s a continent. I mean, when Jerry sits around the
    House, he sits around the House!) But the real Cheez Whiz on this nacho platter will
    be our head cheerleader—the very same man who tossed his pom-poms at
    Andover. That’s right, boss, you’ll be our one-man pep squad. Now, I know you’re a
    little rusty, but don’t sweat it: the Log Cabin Boys have volunteered to give you a
    little refresher course (choreography—it’s in their blood). I can hear it now: “Hey,
    hey! That’s okay! We took Florida anyway!”

    2. SEX AND THE COUNTRY: Once again, the op-ed hysterics and Chicken Little
    Democrats have sold America a crock of ka-ka with their finger-wagging about this
    so-called incurable epidemic of teenage sex. According to our in-house tracking,
    high school kids—boys in particular—actually don’t like sex. Truth be told, they find
    it time consuming and surprisingly messy. These young people may not be saying it
    out loud, but clearly they’re crying out for better role models, more decent
    diversions. For instance, American Pie 2 may have grossed $70 million its opening
    weekend, but do you think all those teens would have flocked to such a raunchy
    slice of decadence if, say, a real comedy like Cinderfella was showing down the
    street? I mean, what do you find funnier: Jerry Lewis or some sicko humping a
    pastry? So sad.

    Solution: We need to hit the road with ordinary Americans who can attest to the joys
    of abstinence—real people from the Administration who can say without hesitation
    that one doesn’t need sex to lead a fulfilling life (Karl, Karen: flip a coin). We’ll hit
    the rec centers, bowling alleys, neighborhood malt shops—all those places kids like
    to hang out these days. Yes sir, if Nancy Reagan can scare the reefer out of the
    hands of our youth, surely we can slide the panties back onto Miss Liberty.

    3. 1600 MADISON AVENUE: You don’t have to be Procter and Gamble to know
    that you can’t sell soap without the bubbles. In other words, consumers need a
    comfortable, instantly identifiable logo that reminds them why they’re coughing up
    their tax rebate. Starkist has Charlie the Tuna, Snuggle has that nauseating little
    bear; and do I even have to mention the Pillsbury (“Nice Tan”) Doughboy? In short,
    what we need for our Communities of Character is a character—a colorful, fun,
    animated icon that instantly says to America: I’m your pal. And, brother, have we
    got one lined up. Check this out: You start with your basic Uncle Sam; lose the
    goofy top hat and shave the head; throw some shades on the guy, maybe a nostril
    stud; then swap the grand-pappy beard for a slick goatee, put him in baggy pants
    from Hilfiger—and voila! So what do we call this new hip-hop-happy symbol of
    America? Say hello to U. Sammy.

    Call me.

    Andy

    P.S. Too bad about Sen. Helms’s announcement that he’s hanging up his Grand
    Wizard’s robe in ’02, huh? See, this is where we might have benefited from getting
    behind cloning. A coupla scrapings off the old coot’s spotted noggin, and we
    could've packed Congress with a parade of little Jesses straight through to the next
    millennium.