Note to Michele Bachmann. Here is a suggestion from someone you will never invite to lunch.
There's another debate tomorrow, and it's time to face the facts.
The only room to the right of Rick Perry is the well-greased slope of the lunatic fringe.
He ambled in, and stole the hearts of the Tea Partiers that you thought were yours alone. This is a man whose response to the Texas drought is to use his authority to ask constituents to pray for rain. This is a man who takes the Bible literally... never wrong, about anything, including the animals tromping in pairs up the gangplank to the ark. He's a man on record as saying anybody who doesn't worship the way he does is going to burn for eternity.
Whether he truly believes all that is irrelevant. Those who want him to believe it are with him -- which means they're not with you.
Deal with it. As in any love affair, when your significant other finds someone new, you have to move on.
If you thought you could win them back with the HPV argument, you were wrong. You got attention. But people on the corner shouting about judgment day get attention, too. They also sound a little crazy.
Besides, even the hardiest Tea Partiers must have at least a suspicion that you manufactured an issue that could cause just enough uninformed parental concern to kill women.
So with your Tea Partiers now going off with their new love for long weekends, consider this:
Drop the wackier and righter than thou act.
I saw you on Jay Leno. You were poised, articulate, funny, human and totally un-intimidated. He tried to make you a joke, but you blew him off his comfy chair. You were everything with Leno that Sarah Palin was not with Katie Couric. Nobody can make you a cartoon unless you help them.
What if you used your presence, your tax-lawyer brains, your ability to connect and everything else you have going for you to speak for women -- who so far have been invisible and irrelevant to the campaign message planners? There are real issues out there. You could own them.
Of course, that means you are going to back off a few positions. If I may:
Drop the talk about wives being "submissive" to their husbands -- and the part about you becoming a lawyer because your husband told you too. Does America want that image of good little wife trailing you into global negotiations? Is it possible that the image is already carrying over to the debate stage -- forcing you to contort your positions to say: "Hey -- I'm over here?"
Stop the talk about de-funding Planned Parenthood. Too many women use it, and too many women need it.
Give at least a nod to the women who came before you, who paved your way to a platform you're using to, on a good day, ignore women; on a bad day, to hammer them into your personal notion of what women should do and be?
You have some amazing female credentials just by who you are: mother of five, foster mother to 23, accomplished businesswoman. You did all that, and managed to top it off with a congressional seat.
Many women consider you a role model. If you loosen the tent flaps a little, I think a lot more will come inside.
It's not too late -- if not this time, maybe next. Witness Mitt Romney. He's managed to change positions on everything from the stimulus to health care to gays in the military to reproductive rights to stem cells. And he's still a contender.
If he can veer to the right, maybe you can edge to the left.
It doesn't mean you have to start looking for Hollywood endorsements. Just embrace the fact that you are the only serious female candidate in the race from either party.
Stop running from that in the hopes of wooing those who have found another love.
Instead, speak for those who need you. What have you got to lose?
Follow Dr. Peggy Drexler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drpeggydrexler