Dear Sen. Kerry

I hope you won't take it personally that I'm mentioning my disappointment at your seeming flip-flops lately, such as when you said you voted for and then against the same bill that allocated funds for the current war. I'm sure that was just a slip of the tongue, but it impels me to contact you and offer the services of my company, the Institute for Modifying All Governmental Entities (IMAGE, for short). Our services are designed to help you appear to be what you want the voter to think you are, regardless of what you actually are. After all (as they say), perception is everything; however, by all means don't think I've inferred from your actions that you are anything but true-blue and as American as apple pie and all the rest. It's just that you sometimes need coaching, especially to ward off slips in the heat of campaign battle.

You made a horrible mistake in at least implying recently that you didn't expect an actual war when you voted to give the president authority to conduct an actual war. Some people call this circumstance being brainwashed, an ugly campaign stopper similar to what happened to a candidate in 1968 who said he had been brainwashed (actually believed the propaganda) by the U.S. military during a tour of Vietnam. He dropped out even before the New Hampshire primary, so great was the uproar against a potential president who could be brainwashed. IMAGE's agency for helping in this area is the Department for Understanding Propaganda Efforts (DUPE, for short). Howard Dean might be in your place today if he had just availed himself of DUPE. If he had, he would have understood that sneaky republicans in D.C. had put out the word (sheer propaganda) that Dean was the greatest thing since sliced bread, knowing he would be a cinch to defeat. Dean actually believed what he heard and spent millions in a totally lost cause. DUPE operatives would have warned him to be modest and self-deprecating, not arrogant and - that awful scream.

Another IMAGE arm that can help you is the Emotion Manipulation Office for Tactical Effects (EMOTE, for short). A candidate in 1972 was deep-sixed in the snows of New Hampshire when he wept in public over a silly newspaper article about his wife. He, too, had been a naval officer and was not a wimp, but he made that fatal mistake. Things have changed in 30 years, however, so it would be okay in the warm-fuzzy, hugs-and-kisses, politically correct atmosphere of today to weep. The little old blue-haired ladies in pink sweats and sneakers, not to mention the soccer moms, think a real man should shed tears at certain times, while the rednecks in the South and guys who guzzle beer think a real man should be tattooed, stoic and shifty. EMOTE will help you know what to do wherever you're campaigning. For instance, you shouldn't have had a fit of anger (terrible emotion) and castigated that secret service guy for knocking you off your skis (a certain vote-loser); rather, you should have apologized for being in his way. Being emotionally correct is as important now as being politically correct. Remember the "Dean Scream." Old Howard, despite the endorsement of Harkin and Gore (the kiss of death), thought he was invincible, and literally blew his stack when he lost that vote. Bad mistake! He should have shed a few tears. As Ecclesiastes would have it in chapter three, there's a time for weeping, laughter, dancing, shutting up, etc. We'll help you know when.

IMAGE's agency called the Group Responsible for Obviating Objectionable Mannerisms (known, naturally, as GROOM) will aid you in the avoidance of either damaging speech or foolish actions. Either by accident or the theft of an IMAGE manual (Karl Rove style?), President Bush actually employed a GROOM tactic in his recent press conference when he answered all questions, to great public acceptance, by actually not answering any of them. He had the good sense not to admit making mistakes - a stroke of genius, since nobody wants a president who admits to mistakes, whether or not he makes them. The good ole boys figure a cover-up is always an admirable operation, and now they're joined by all those ladies in the military and work force who feel the same. The master of the technique was President Eisenhower, back in the 50s. At the end of his press conferences, reporters scratched their heads, wondered exactly what he had said about anything, and, as old Ike planned, wrote or aired very little. The reporters at the Bush conference had planned for an ideal soap opera, but Bush gave them "Gotcha-kill."

GROOM would have kept President Carter from talking about lusting back in the 70s, being attacked while in a boat by a huge rabbit, and the nation's malaise, which the good ole boys thought meant stinking in some kind of gooey stuff found in a jar in grocery stores - in other words, total claptrap. We offered to help him, but he refused and lost reelection. IMAGE is the answer to YOUR problems, and I await your advisement so that we can get started, perhaps by suggesting that you admit to owning at least one SUV. Sometimes the truth actually helps.

I.M. Reverself, CEO

May 2004