11/27/2005 12:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Your Surrogate Conservative Father

Arguing with your Republican father about politics: it's really nothing new. Among Thanksgiving traditions, it's as time-honored as "the kids table" and falling asleep on the couch. But what about the sons and daughters out there with rational Tom-DeLay-hating parents who are denied this hallowed tradition? What becomes of the 47% of Americans who get stuck talking about how this season's Desperate Housewives is stacking up to last season's (not well)?

I'm here to offer you Dick Van Veen -- your surrogate conservative father. Not just a talking-point politician like you're accustomed to seeing blindly support the administration's agenda, but a real-life random sample from the side of the population that wants their daughters to marry Tucker Carlson. Now there's a young man with his head on straight.

My liberal brethren have lately found themselves wiping their eyes the morning after, bloody and battered, asking each other "Who are these people out there that support this madness?" If Democratic strategists had their own right-leaning dads with whom to share this perennial ritual, they'd never need another focus group; they'd understand every nuance, or lack thereof, of the Republican mind.

So, as a service to those strategists and a learning experience for the aforementioned liberal orphans out there, I will attempt to recapture a few bits of this familial magic.

Please note: This exchange may seem to begin abruptly, but only because the best conservative-father arguments don't commence smoothly; they explode with premeditated barbs meant to instigate the opposition.


SISTER: Yeah, definitely see WALK THE LINE. It's great.

DAD: Ya know what The Baltimore Sun needs? Anne Coulter's column.

ME: Oh, Jesus. Here we go.

Now there are two routes the progressive offspring can take. The amateur will rise to his feet and fire back. The veteran, however, will simply take a deep breath and wait for the parent to finish relaying the "scoops" he read on Drudge Report the past week.

DAD: Yeah, and that 'X' over Dick Cheney's face... that was a mistake... sure.

MOM: What are you referring to?

DAD: Well, CNN, the Communist News Network, was broadcasting one of Dick Cheney's speeches...

ME: How is that a conspiracy?

DAD: Because that that is the type of thing lowlifes do.

"Lowlifes" and "undesirables" are go-to words for the conservative father. So are phrases like "disturbed well-meaning individuals." And of course, no conversation about Iraq with a Republican male over the age of forty would be complete without a mention of the Second World War.

DAD: No matter what anybody says, we are the good guys. When we were the only ones to have the bomb in World War II, we could have blown up everybody. But we didn't.

ME: What about the Japanese?

DAD: Yes, but we used the nuclear weapons to end a war. Today, these countries want weapons to start wars.

ME: Didn't we start the Iraqi war?

DAD: No.

ME: What? Who did?

DAD: Do you know how many years they were shooting at planes flying over the no-fly zone? Look it up. Remember the WMDs they "didn't have" that they used on the Kurds?

ME: So you're saying Saddam did have WMDs?

DAD: Yea. We sold them to him.

ME: Where are they now?

DAD: The big question. They were there and they're not there now. How about Syria? Or, somewhere we can't find them.

Other key concepts that always find their way into conservative father speeches are responsibility and maturity.

DAD: A leader has to have foresight. The irresponsible youth cannot see the seriousness of the situation. The more mature person has to accept the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the country. We can all go to Disneyland, but somebody has to be minding the store.

ME: And that person is George W. Bush?

DAD: No.

ME: Then who is it?

DAD: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

And of course no father/son chat would be complete without some allusion to "hippie culture."

DAD: When you're a goofy kid or someone who's hung around college campuses too long you don't have the maturity to accept the burden. Therefore, the Republicans have to.

And... scene. Happy holidays, everyone!