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Just a Guy Named Joe

TAKING SIDES

By Paul M. Barrett

MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT:

From: Domestic Policy. Perception Staff

Re: Image Modification for Campaign '82

As you must know by now from watching the evening news, your image is the number-one topic of conversation among unnamed officials in the White House. Our goal is a quick face-lift: zap those wrinkles of elitism and remind the American people that Ronald Reagan is a sweet guy who can still get tough, an economic radical who knows well enough not to know too much and to leave well enough alone.

Fairness: This is the big 'one and the one your fans in the heartland are looking for. But there's much more to it than shelving the riding breeches and slamming the door on the California Kitchen Cabinet for a few weeks. The nation identifies with a fella who un tucks his shirt and enjoys a Budweiser--your everyday Average Joe. We will have your name changed to Joe.

Beyond clothing and nomenclature, fairness requires more domestic tension in the White House. After all, what gives you and the First Lady the right to remain puppy dogs in love way past your Geritol years? (Just a hypothetical question, sir.) We suggest bringing one of your spunkier children to Washington and encouraging him or her to gab with the press about your shortcomings as a parent.

Additionally, we think that you should get out of the House more often. In the eyes of many voters, "out with the boys" is a good place to be. We suggest a bowling league in suburban Virginia. What could be fairer than Joe Reagan waiting on line for a Bud and pretzels, the words "Ace Hardware" embroidered across the back of his electric-blue, un tucked in bowling jersey.

The Personal Touch: You have overused the line about your father losing his job in the Depression and how you feel the pain of every unemployed factory worker. Forget the unemployed, they don't have jobs, so they don't enjoy tax breaks. Instead, try to relate to some other groups on a personal level.

Talk to college students about panty raids at ol Eureka. Do a few innings of a World Series game on TV and ask endearing questions about what a "designated hitter" does and whether it's true that all professional athletes are drug fiends these days.

We'll probably want to sidestep the Hollywood years. You don't need any more "Bedtime for Bonzo" revivals. But why not capitalize on your undeniable success as a former me ocre actor-turned-corporate spokesman? Underscore the point by making campaign stops with Karl Malden of American Express Travelers Checks and Chrysler lover Ricardo Montalban at your side. Throw in Lorne Greene and his kennel of Alpo enthusiasts, and you've got a team as American as pre-packaged apple pie.

Get Tough: If we want to cut Republican losses on November 2, we need a reminder of your skill at drawing the line, putting the block on your shoulder, and getting down to brass tacks. A perfect example of your natural ability in this area was the way you laid into the nuclear freeze pussy-footers, labeling them the tools of foreign subversives:" ...Inspired not by the sincere, honest people who want peace, but by some who want the weakening of America and so are manipulating honest people and sincere people." Now that's the ticket, chief.

Finally, let's broaden the attack. Reveal to your countrymen who's really behind the professional football player's strike. Commies, naturally--and you've got names! And what about those air traffic controllers? They've been awfully quiet recently. Maybe the Justice Department should round up a few of those pinkos just for good measure.

You get the idea; use your imagination. Happy trails, and let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

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