Day I Was Asked to Feed an Elephant
By Walter Brasch
On April 21, I finally became part of the establishment.
At least the Republican National Committee believes I did.
I received a letter from Ed Gillespie. The Ed Gillespie.
Chairman of all the Republicans. Beneath a red and blue logo,
from Ed Gillespie himself, was my name and address. All typed
neatly and correctly.
Ed - I assume I can call him Ed since he addressed me as
"friend" - just wanted to thank me for all the help I've given
the Republicans. The only thing I can remember ever giving
the Republicans is a few bucks now and then for campaign buttons
for my political collection. "As a fellow citizen who believes
in President Bush and his agenda for a strong, prosperous
America," Ed wrote, "I am honored to present you with the
My heart beating as fast as a company planning to outsource
its labor, I checked it out. 8 1/4" by 10 1/2".
Full color. Glossy photo paper. President Bush sitting at
his desk in the Oval Office. Pen in his right hand. Phone
receiver precariously perched against his left ear. He was
reading some important papers. At least, I assumed they were
important papers. After all, what else would a president be
reading? My first thought was that the liberals were wrong.
The president can do more than one thing at a time!
Would a picture from the RNC lie?
On the bottom of the picture, against a white border, was
the president's personal message. "To Walter Brasch," it said
in readable script type. To Walter Brasch! How much more personal
can you get? But that wasn't all - the personalized script
even thanked me for my support for the RNC, then zeroed in
on my contribution: "Grassroots leaders like you are the key
to building a better, stronger, more secure future for our
nation and all Americans."
Below all that was a blue signature, which might have said
"George Bush." It could also have said "Mickey Mouse." A busy
President often can't write legibly, especially if he has
to sign a million or so photos.
Ed said he hoped I "will display this personalized photograph
of President Bush proudly as a symbol of [my] support for
his positive vision of a better future for our country." I
was about to put a flag on my car and drive over to the nearby
Wal-Mart and ask one of the $7 an hour part-time workers for
a picture frame when my wife suggested it would be unpatriotic
if I didn't keep reading Ed's message.
He wanted me to confirm I received the picture in good condition
and send the "confirmation receipt" back to him personally
in the postage-paid envelope. "It means a lot to me to know
your picture arrived in good condition," he stated. If the
picture was damaged, all I had to do was check another box
and I'd get another one! These Republicans really care about
me and the quality of the postal service, I thought.
They also suggested I could support the President with "a
contribution of $25, $35, $50, $100 or whatever." For a few
more paragraphs, my good buddy Ed told me about what the compassionate
conservative President was doing for the country. With my
support - my support! - the president would be able
to make the tax cuts permanent and give even more incentives
to American business. He'd be able to "enact a comprehensive
energy policy." He'd even work "to strengthen homeland security."
Ed didn't mention anything about Iraq or Afghanistan, the
health crisis, environmental disasters, and the current state
of free speech. But that's probably because he only had a
couple of pages to tell me that I needed to help the president.
He said we needed to overcome "San Francisco liberal Nancy
Pelosi." San Francisco. Liberal. It almost seemed to be redundant.
"We must counter the Democrats by getting our message out
past the liberal media echo chamber," he pleaded. Definitely,
I thought! We need to counter the liberal Fox network. And
those billion-dollar media conglomerates that spew infotainment
all day. And that left-leaning cabal of talk show hosts.
I'd be honored to get rid of those liberal media. Ed needed
my $25. Or more. He needed it for that $4.1 million he said
the RNC was trying to raise during the next three months.
He didn't mention that the president's re-election campaign
had already raised more than $185 million, but I'm sure the
campaign needs every cent to make sure that no TV commercial
spot gets left behind.
Three times he asked me to contribute. It'd be easy. I could
return the "Confirmation Receipt Form," the one that tells
Ed I received the picture in good condition, and just send
along a check or credit card information. I could even "have
an immediate impact" by going on-line.
In one package from the RNC I received a two-page letter,
a one-page confirmation, a picture suitable for framing, and
a postage-paid envelope. The information the RNC sent me really
must have been important.
Because that was three pieces of information more than the
Presidential Daily Briefing in August 2001 warning of an imminent
strike by al-Qaeda against the United States.
Walter Brasch's latest book is the witty Sex and the
Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture.
You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributing to this column was Rosemary Brasch.