Beep. You’ve reached the office of the President of the United States. The President is out of the office or otherwise occupied and cannot accept you call at this time, but at the beep please leave your message and the President will return your call as soon as possible. Have a nice day, and God Bless America. Beep.
You better listen to me. As a political operative, I was the sole agent out there who could have made Mondale president if only they’d a listened to me. I called him up, gave him my advice for free…for free, just in the interest of saving America from a second term of Ronald Reagan. My advice? He shoulda punched Reagan in the nose during the first debate. He’d a won in a landslide!”
The debate happened, as you’ll recall, a few days after Reagan had said that “the leadership of the democratic party has gone so far left, so as to have left the country.” As a good liberal democrat of the day, I was insulted to have my patriotism impugned by my president and wanted to see some spine from my party’s standard-bearer. My plan would have won it for him easy. What we got was some namby-pamby slop about “hyperbole” and “nonsense”. Here’s what I suggested to the Mondale campaign: When Cronkite or Barbara Walters or whoever the hell it is asks the first question, ignore it entirely and make a speech. That’s what the Republicans have been doing for eight years now and it’s time we started doing it, too. And here’s the speech you should make: “ The other day the President of the United States referred to the leadership of the loyal opposition as “so far left so as to have left the country”. As part of the leadership of my party, I assume my President includes me in this public denigration of love of country, and as such I consider it an insult, being a man who has been in public service for some thirty five years and served for two years as a fighter pilot in Korea while this guy (thumb over the shoulder at the President) spent WW II making training films in Culver City and went home to, um, kiss the wife each night, despite his uniform and officer’s commission. (He can spit disgustedly here). So, if Mr. Reagan (be sure to call him “mister” and not “president”…that’s a demoralizing trick he himself had used on ‘Mr. Carter”. ) thinks he can stand there and insult my patriotism, my love for and best efforts devoted to the success of my country, I ask him now to either take back those words or take off his coat and meet me in the corridor.” (By now your face should be red and the veins on your neck fit to burst). The old boy, being driven off script by hurricane force winds would be quivering jelly and probably wouldn’t make it through the remaining 89 minutes on his feet. I guaranteed it.
Did they listen? Nah. Bill Clinton, now he listened to me.
January, 1996. The first month of the last year of the first term. Things aren’t looking so good. Popularity in the drink and heading for Davy Jones’ locker. Then came that time Hilary had to testify about some trumped up malfeasance or other in front of a congressional committee, and William Safire, in print in the New York Times, called the President’s wife “a congenital liar”. Clinton had a press conference coming up in a day or two, and I pushed as hard as I could to get through. Took me 36 hours but I finally got Stephanopoulus to return one of my calls. “Ok Morrie. It better be good”, said that arrogant twerp. I knew I had only seconds for my pitch and I blurted, “Bill’s gotta be insulted by this ungentlemanly attack on his wife, and he’s gotta threaten to punch him in the nose”. George said “Good Morrie. Glad to see the meds are working out” and he was gone. Sure enough, later that day, that’s exactly what Bill did, and from that moment on his popularity curve started swinging back up until he kicked poor old whatsisname… Bob Dole, oh yeah…Bob Dole’s ass and served two terms and retired with a 62 per cent approval rating. All for threatening…just threatening…to punch somebody in the nose. As Casey Stengel would say, “You could look it up.” Americans like a President who can punch somebody in the nose.
So that was me. You know what I got for that? A check for $2,000 as a consulting fee from the DNC.
But I’m not complaining. I’m kind of a public servant. It’s all for the love of the game. And country, too, of course. Love of country. Paramount. First in my mind. So it’s my considered opinion, and my opinion is valued by many, that President Obama could best serve himself by threatening to punch somebody in the nose. Considering the mood of the country, he may even have to actually punch somebody in the nose. And, it’s also my considered opinion, and my opinion is valued by many, that while the President seems to be pretty fit, and I imagine he’s quite the busy guy, it wouldn’t hurt to find time to pound the heavy bag a few times a week.
Who should he threaten to or actually punch? Well, that’s going to be a little more tricky. Sarah Palin is, of course, an inviting target but I strongly recommend staying away from female politicos. Newt Gingrich would be okay on general principles, but how about someone with more impact? Like Glen Beck. Pow, right in the kisser. Who wouldn’t love that?
See, the thing you guys always forget is that all those blowhards, the Becks, the Hannitys, the Robertsons, the Falwells, the Limbaughs…the mountebanks that dominate the media, represent only about 20 to 25 percent of the population. You can outvote the lunatic fringe if you’d only get people to pay attention and go out and vote. And to get them to go out and vote you have to do something attention grabbing. Like punching someone in the nose. So if you want to win in 2012, you gotta punch somebody in the nose. Any body will do.
And this advice won’t cost you nothing. It gives me great pleasure to serve my country and my President this way. (But personally, I’d love to see the Chief Justice get one on the old schnozola… and I think maybe you can take him.)