Dear Aunt Sophie,
I’m an extremely powerful man in the Senate. Recently when the new Visitor’s Center at the Capitol opened I happened to express my delight and I’ve been getting nothing but flak ever since.
It’s gotten so a man can’t express a normal thought without being raked over the coals. And you know the part of my statement they’re picking on? I mentioned that on hot summer days we used to be able to smell the visitors and now we won’t have to. I said that due to the high humidity and heat in this city you could smell the people. It’s the God’s honest truth. Anyone who’s ever ridden the bus or the metro knows that, or so I’m told. And I didn’t say anything offensive like “stink” or “reek”. I don’t see why this should be newsworthy. Well, maybe I shouldn’t have said “smell”.
I am so sick and tired of being portrayed as out of touch with ordinary people. For one thing, we built that visitors’ center for the people. Yes. For ordinary, everyday visitors. Common people. We wanted to make sure they’d have adequate bathroom facilities and other accommodations. In the past they didn’t have them. So how can anyone accuse us of not having sympathy for the average person?
I have nothing but sympathy for the people. What do you think these bail-outs are all about? It’s about preserving jobs for ordinary people. High employment is very important to the economy. For one thing, if people are unemployed how can they pay taxes? Employment is good for everyone, especially for the common man.
I suppose my talking about “the common man” could be mistaken for arrogance, but the fact is I, too, am a common man. I happened to go into a different line of work than most people but that doesn’t mean I’m not common. And, just like the average guy I worry about being unemployed. In fact I face the threat of unemployment every six years. Every single six years without exception. It’s scary. I worry about it all the time. As soon as I win one election I start worrying about how to win the next one. That’s something the average person doesn’t have to do. He might work for the same company for forty years. But me – every six years I have to wonder if I’m going to have a job. So you see I do know what it’s like.
How can I make people see that I’m really one of them?
You seem to have forgotten one of the cardinal rules of public discourse: never express an idea straightforwardly if there’s a way to obfuscate. Referring to the tourists’ “smell” was not smart. You should instead have referred to their “bouquet”.
I’ll bet you could hear them breathing, too. You had to know that’s what they were doing out there under the hot sun - exhaling. It’s enough to give a majority leader the heeby-jeebies. But you could have solved the problem without spending millions on a visitors’ center. A law limiting CO2 emissions would have forced them to breathe less.
The merest suggestion that any US legislator doesn’t love the common man should trigger a libel suit, considering the many ways government struggles to improve his life. Congress can never receive the thanks it deserves for prescribing particular kinds of flush toilets, light bulbs and automobiles.
And that’s nothing compared to the improvements you’re sure to be sending our way in the next few years. For example, now that cow flatulence is recognized as the number one cause of global warming - or is it global cooling? Well, climate change, anyway - I’m sure Congress instinctively grasps the obvious solution - a heavily taxed cow will think twice before she um, pollutes.
Once you tax cows only the rich will be able to afford hamburger. But since CEO’s don’t eat at McDonalds the chain will finally be forced into Chapter 11 touching off jubilation wherever the New York Times is read. The demand of millions of Average Joes that the government preserve their McJobs will be met with stony silence by your playmates in Congress since there won’t be any money left for a bail-out. And should the reorganized corporation somehow manage to sell enough McTofu burgers to keep itself afloat, its recovery will last only until Congress outlaws the possession of tofu due to unacceptably high estrogen levels in dock workers. Feel the love.
If you want hoi polloi to embrace you as one of their own you can begin by peeling the “Let Them Eat Grass” bumper sticker off your limousine.
Good luck and God bless.