10/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Lipstick Indicator

The Lipstick Indicator

Dear Barack,

It's 9/11 and I don't feel like writing about lipstick but I'm depressed by the mood in New York and I'm depressed as I lifelong Democrat by the strong likelihood that once again, we are going to lose the White House.
When you were taken to task for your "lipstick on a pig" remark, you responded with fact--you did a literal explanation of the expression and you trotted out data on the economy. Your tendency to the literal is your fatal flaw in this race. Take a page out of the Republicans' book and out of the book of every successful marketer. Don't go after an emotionally charged issue with fact. Change the subject by twisting their image and meeting emotion with emotion. In this case, you should have trotted out The Lipstick Indicator.
Every woman knows--and so do the economists--that if lipstick sales go up, the economy is headed south. Back in May The New York Times did a piece on it as a warning shot that things were getting really bad.
The only way to defeat the myth the Republicans are selling to the American people about how McCain and Palin will change the government is by meeting them head on with a better myth. It should be based in fact, but it has to have the same emotional charge that the McCain/Palin maverick myth has. It has to have an emotional charge that no number of facts will ever have.
So when the press pitches you a nice straight fast ball, step up to the plate packing an emotional wallop. Keith Oberman pitched you a big fat juicy one the other night that you could have hit out of the park. He brought up Truman's campaign question asking people how many times they had to be hit over the head before they realized who was hitting them. You said something to the effect that if we wanted more of the same, we should vote for McCain. If we wanted something different we should vote for you. That's literal, pedestrian, no emotional impact: a swing and a miss. The home run would have been to say, yes, can you see you're being pounded by this administration and that McCain and Palin will use the same baseball bat Bush has used for eight years? Get it?
I bet a friend a $400 sushi dinner (that PS I can't afford in the current economy because I have had to take a significant pay cut) that you will lose this election. I really want to lose my bet. I hope you can help. Write back soon. I know you're busy.

Amy Hertz

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?