STAFF: Madam House Speaker and Mr. Senate Minority Leader, yes, we have a problem.
HOUSE SPEAKER: We weren’t convincing about not needing the president’s wall?
SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Did we make it clear that most drugs enter the US through ports of entry?
STAFF: No. The problem is that your visual was so... so off-putting that people don’t know what you said.
HS: But they heard our voices? They certainly heard us?
STAFF: No. They were stuck on the visual.
SML: The visual? What was wrong with the visual?
STAFF: If you’ve got the stomach for it, check out the memes online.
HS: Stomach? What do you mean?
SML: Memes? Can you clarify?
STAFF: A meme is an image, usually a comedic image that gets passed through the internet. Like a picture with funny captions.
HS: And we were memes? A funny image that invited captions?
STAFF: We’re trying to be gentle here. But unfortunately, the two of you looked like the old farmer and his worn wife in Grant Wood’s painting, ‘American Gothic.’
SML: I’m not familiar with it. Madam Speaker, are you?
HS: Vaguely. I’m sure I’ve seen it. But how could we look like old farmers?
STAFF: You didn’t look like farmers. But you sure looked like the couple in the painting.
SML: In what way.
STAFF: You look totally uncomfortable. Like you’ve just stumbled out from root canals. Or you’re prepping for a colonoscopy.
HS: That bad?
STAFF: Totally. You even resemble hostage captives having to confess on TV to crimes they did not commit.
SML: Really? That is bad. Or is it just your opinion?
STAFF: No, not our opinion. We share blame because obviously we did not prepare you well enough.
HS: You were satisfied with our speeches?
STAFF: With the words, yes. But we thought you would be animated, lively, expressive.
SML: And we weren’t?
STAFF: You looked as if you needed a doctor to see if you had a pulse.
HS: My, that is bad. Stiff? Are you saying we were stiff?
STAFF: Beyond stiff. Moribund. Like you had rigor mortis.
SML: Dead? Dead looking?
STAFF: You’re getting it. Yes. Especially when you’ve got that new New York City Congresswoman who’s showing up on numerous TV news shows, and she’s lively, animated, expressive.
HS: Which made us look even deader?
STAFF: We’re not quite saying that. You would have looked dead without her.
HS: That bad?
STAFF: Your makeup looked as if our cosmetologists got their training in embalming school.
SML: OK. We get the picture. What do you suggest?
STAFF: For one thing, we never do that again.
HS: Then what do we do?
STAFF: Maybe you two aren’t the best faces to put on the Democratic Party.
SML: Well, we’ve seen the Republicans try using others. Bobby Jindal talking gibberish. Mario Rubio grabbing a water bottle as if he just crawled in from the desert.
STAFF: Gibberish, out. Water bottle, out.
HS: Then what’s in?
STAFF: Maybe sometimes it’s best just to let the media have at the president’s speech. If it’s good, you can’t do anything about it. If it’s bad, and we would rate this one deficient on anything new and thus bad, then it might be better to just let the thing sink out of sight. Bad speeches die on their feet. No need to kill them.
SML: Well, that’s a new approach.
HS: Mr. Minority Leader, I think they’re saying sometimes there’s a place for silence.
SML: Silence? Hmm. I never thought of that