Dear Candidate

Dear Candidate,

Let me just apologize upfront for the generic greeting (you will notice I followed it with a friendly comma, not an austere, business-like colon), but the fact is that the firm's computers are down today (not known whether attacked by DNC or RNC viruses), one result being that the database of letter-greeting names of candidates has been lost. Thankfully, the addresses have been saved, courtesy of a computer swat team provided by Ralph Nader, operating on the slogan Spread the Blame, the reason for his beneficence being obvious. As president of the Institute for Modifying All Governmental Entities (known as IMAGE, for short), I'm writing in order to acquaint you with some of our services, along with the suggestion that you consider using them in your highly honorable attempt to gain office, along with my congratulations, of course. IMAGE has been active in a number of campaigns, notably making Richard Nixon appear human twice, in '68 and '72, and Bill Clinton appear honest twice, in the naughty nineties.

An IMAGE department known as the Syllogism Locution Institution for Purveying Propaganda, Errata, and Righteous Yammering (SLIPPERY, for short), is vital to any campaign. A specious, crafty argument is one of the best tools a campaigner can use, thus the anagram tells the whole story, to wit, anything goes as long as one can slip from the opponent's inevitable "truth-noose" and thus not be caught lying. It's no secret that IMAGE advised Clinton to make an issue of just what the word "is" actually is. When details of his impeachment/Grand-Jury dilemma were entered into the SLIPPERY database, the computer spat out the resolution of the problem - obfuscation to a degree that now no one actually knows what "is" is, not even the computer, let alone a mere Grand Jury blindsided by perjury-nullification, a much more important element than what "is" is.

Purveying propaganda and spreading errata comprise hands-on enterprises at IMAGE, whose operatives plant information advantageous to the candidate in such a way that its validity is not a factor, not to be confused with lying, of course, but considered in the light of expediency. You may remember that Clinton and Gore became so anxious about the survival of the USA in 1996 that they had to DO something, so they turned to IMAGE, whose operatives planted the Gore-Convent story that Gore didn't know he was collecting some 130 grand or so from the indigent nuns, thus using it to save the nation from the clutches of Bob Dole and Ross Perot. It was a stroke of genius, almost as good as SLIPPERY's suggestion that the Lincoln bedroom should be sold to the highest bidder on a given evening, especially to any Chinese businessmen.

Hyper-righteous rhetoric can sometimes become annoying, so SLIPPERY has manuals and conducts training classes for use by those who need to know when and how to sound/look/be pious. Bush had to be careful in 2000 not to be too religious, but he erred a few times when he mentioned Jesus Christ. Joe Lieberman erred greatly when Gore picked him as Veep material, spending so much time talking about his Jewishness that even some Pentecostals actually started eating only kosher…and that's a bit much. Many of the mainline religionists slam Bush because he has said he thinks men shouldn't marry men, while the bishops don't even want Kerry to take Communion because he can't make up his mind about abortion (among loads of other things), saying a woman should have the right to kill a fetus, but that life begins at conception, ergo, abortion equals murder, which is illegal. Both guys need IMAGE full-time.

IMAGE cooperates with some feminist organizations, as well as the Playboy outfit, in an enterprise named the Sexual Attractiveness League for Obnoxiousness Negation (SALON, for short). One of SALON's operatives whispered a freebie to a Kerry aide that Kerry should point out that he and Edwards have better hair than Bush and Cheney. After Kerry complied, a SALON poll was taken right after that, and it was learned that a high percentage of soccer moms swooned all over the nation and swore to vote for Kerry even if he ditched Teresa. A Cheney aide contacted IMAGE (off the record, of course) for advice and was told that Cheney should smile more and wear a hat whenever possible. SALON is also working on a "kindly grandfather" image for Cheney, and hopes he will decide to use it. SALON also has an arm called the Bureau for Obviating Tuck Options Xenophobia (BOTOX, for short). It is BOTOX's business to alleviate fears relating to tucks, a term encompassing everything from wrinkle-removals and face-lifts to liposuction and enhanced body parts. It is rumored that one presidential candidate has used BOTOX, not to mention his wife, but the agency exists to make sure people are not afraid to look like somebody else, preferably somebody younger.

Finally, there is the IMAGE agency known as the Department for Inclusiveness in Verbally Enhancing Religious, Sexual Emotions (DIVERSE, for short). It was no accident at the democratic convention that the Rev. Al Sharpton had the crowd in his sweaty hands for 23 minutes, much longer than his allotted time. It is believed here that he had secretly consulted a DIVERSE manual explaining the use of boredom to one's advantage. He had the people screaming and clapping by using voice inflections, as prescribed in the manual, that had been tried experimentally on kindergarten kids in a faith-based pre-school, thus conning the crowd into an old-time revival shouting atmosphere. There's a suspicion, also, that John Edwards had seen some of our material designed to make any man sound like a hunk. That deep-south accent didn't come from any mill town in North Carolina; it came from a DIVERSE training manual explaining how to make any one-syllable word into a two- or three-syllable word, since it's a known fact that ladies love that slow-talkin', southern-gentleman type. Teresa Kerry didn't just get mad at that reporter and tell him to "shove it." That was rehearsed, as explained in the DIVERSE manual designed to help people sound authoritative (and maybe a little bad).

But, enough! Suffice it to say that IMAGE and its helpful agencies are here and ready to help you in your campaign to present yourself either as yourself (usually a mistake), or as your OTHER self, that public self that IMAGE can package practically overnight. I hope to hear from you soon.

I.M. Reverself, CEO