To: Dick Gephardt
From: Tucker Carter, political consultant
Re: Becoming More Jewish
Dick, the recent revelations that most of the potential Democratic candidates have Jewish roots requires us to take swift action. Just to review the news. Howard Dean's wife and kids are Jewish, Hillary Clinton's grandmother married someone named Max Rosenberg, John Kerry's paternal grandparents were Jewish (Kerry was originally Kohn) and, most amazing, General Wesley Clark--a Southern Baptist-turned-Catholic from Arkansas!--had a Jewish father.
Call me paranoid, but I suspect these candidates saw how well the Jewish thing was working for Joe Lieberman and did some creative genealogy to come up with Jewish roots. I know for a fact that Kerry's polling had revealed a 6% lift in his favorables when voters were asked, "How would you feel if it turned out that Senator Kerry had Jewish roots." This polled much higher than when they asked about Hinduism or Baha'i.
My polling shows a similar pattern. Apparently while being Jewish used to be associated with greed, disloyalty and pushiness, it now is associated with good SATs, strong families, sober facial expressions.
I'm concerned that you're being out-flanked on the Jewish roots issue, and we need to take quick action. Unfortunately, we're too late to simply find some Jewish ancestors. At this point, it would seem contrived and lead to "Jew-come-lately" accusations. Also, you're so, well, Aryan looking, that it might not seem plausible. We're going to have to devise ways for you to seem Jewish despite the baggage of having all gentile ancestors.
A few ideas:
1) Announce you are Lactose Intolerant. Most candidates have some medical problem. They're good politically (as long as its not mental or sexual) as they provide a way that ordinary American can relate. If the ailment is Lactose intolerance, a common affliction of European Jews, you can imply that you have Jewish roots without actually having to prove it. You'll need to make it clear that this intolerance applies only lactose, not any ethnic or racial groups.
3) Work With Jane. You know I think the world of your wife, Jane. But she is-- how should I put this?--about as shiksa as they come. We need to carefully model her behavior on that of Hadassah Lieberman and Kitty Dukakis. Apparently that manic quality of seeming more opinionated than their husbands is appealing to blue state women in the 35-50 demo. One possibility would be to have her change her name to something closer to Hadassah--perhaps Mikva?
4) Turn More of Your Statements into Questions. The CW has always been that the public and reporters like you to answer questions with answers. We believe the CW has shifted, however, and that you should now answer all questions with questions, as prescribed by Jewish tradition. So, for instance, if a reporter asks you, "What do you think of pulling out American troops from Iraq," you should not answer that "if properly orchestrated, such a policy could reap dividends." Rather, you should say, "So, what's not to like?"
5) Eat Chinese Food. I'm not sure I understand the Jews' strange affinity for Chinese food, but it's clearly a big issue for them. I've taken the liberty of asking our research and oppo folks to try to find a Chinese restaurant in Iowa. Assuming we can find one, I recommend replacing the classic coffee-at-the-diner-outside-the-factory with a mu-shu-at-the-Chinese-restaurant-near-the-outlet-mall.
6) Develop a Streisand Strategy. Am working on a separate memo specifically on how to get her endorsement. But we need to have a plan B. I recommend that we simultaneously court Mandy Patinkin. It would be a shrewd choice because it would fly below the radar screen of the mainstream press which fails to understand Patinkin's apparent status as major Jewish cultural figure.
We have some catching up to do, but I feel that if we act aggressively we can make up lost ground. Shalom.