Award-winning left-wing humorist and former National Lampoon editor, Steve Brykman, has infiltrated the Republican party, working as a UX Designer & Strategist at Mitt Romney's headquarters in Boston's North End. For the hilarious inside story on one of the most insane, error-prone presidential campaigns in recent history, keep reading 'I'm with Mitt: Adventures in Amercia!' Coming soon to a bookstore or eBook reader near you, assuming someone out there possesses the gumption to publish it. Disclaimer: this blog will not be dictated by fact-checkers.
I. The First Interview
I just got off the phone with my headhunter. She said the Romney campaign is looking for a User Interface Designer. Might I be interested in helping Mitt Romney win the presidency, she asked defeatedly, assuming my answer would be no.
"Tell me more," I said.
They needed someone to architect the UI of Romney's websites and mobile apps. And they needed that person right away. If they liked me, the assignment would last all the way through to the election. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to dwell inside the belly of the beast. But in order to make it happen, in order to make this happy nightmare a reality, I would have to reinvent myself. The most conservative Conservative Party since McKinley wasn't about to hire a former National Lampoon editor with a past as colorful as mine -- someone who'd managed a topless rock band, who'd been photographed having sex with a vacuum cleaner (for a Lampoon book), who wrote stories about trends in American masturbation, who performed standup comedy naked, who refused to shave until Bush was impeached, and lastly, who had been thrown out of the 2000 Democratic National Convention after being assaulted by an unusually aggressive troop of girl scouts.
There was no question. If I was going to land this job, if I stood any chance at infiltrating the Republican party, I would have to make it all disappear.
Taking down my Twitter account was easy. Tragically, I lost some 800 Tweets in the process, zingers like: "They should change the name of 'global warming' to 'apocalypse' so Republicans would have to believe in it." So it goes. Such are the sacrifices I must make. Facebook was a bit more challenging. You have to set all your preferences to private and you have to set all previous posts to private, lest they remain visible to onlookers. Lastly, I wrote to the editors of all the blogs my work was on and told them to take down my stories immediately. Matter of life or death. When I was done, all that remained was the residue of my former existence, all the brief, truncated paragraphs of Google-Search-Results copy. No way to wipe those clean in such short notice.
Initially, the Romney people wanted me to come in for an interview, but an hour later they called back. They wanted to talk on the phone, instead. "Was now a good time?" they asked. So right away I'm skeptical, I'm thinking they've already found me out. Either they saw something or they read something or they heard something. Or maybe they just smelled something. Either way, whatever it was, they didn't like it.
The two women who interviewed me were cordial and funny and young-sounding. This, I thought, is how they get you. Thankfully, I had a plan. A plan that could not fail. No matter what they asked me, I would simply say the exact opposite of whatever I thought I would say under normal circumstances.
They began by asking very offhandedly how political I was and what I thought of their candidate, Mitt Romney. They said "they weren't very political themselves," they had only wound up working for Mitt because they were working on another thing with this art agency and they sort of got swept up in it and now here they are.
Don't buy it, I told myself, Maintain full composure. Remember the plan.
They asked would I feel comfortable working for Romney because the one thing they couldn't do is hire somebody who had any reservations.
I said, "Absolutely."
It's amazing what you'll say when you have two adorable children at home and a house still largely owned by the Bank of America. Because I then unleashed a load of bullshit that surprised even myself.
"Oh," I started, "Well, I'm from Massachusetts, I grew up here, so I know all about Mitt Romney. I thought he did a great job as governor." Oh, shit! I had to stop and think. Had I screwed-up? Was he still governor? No, that didn't make sense. No, I'm sure that's not right. I continued, "I mean, I realize it may not be the most politically correct thing to talk about now, but I think his health care plan was super-successful. It's helped out my own family on a number of occasions."
In reality, though, we'd been subsidized by Obama's unemployment benefits extension. That's how bad things had gotten. Raegan, my wife, and I had both been on unemployment for nearly a year. Yet prior to this, we were nothing but optimistic. Together, we co-founded a mobile-app start-up with an old college buddy. And then some venture capitalists took over and we were laid-off.
And then along comes Mitt Romney on his Olympic horse, offering to pay my bills and feed my children and support my habits.
It wasn't that bad, I told myself. First-off, I would technically only be contracting for Romney. And it would just be user-experience stuff. I'd wireframe the website. Maybe lay out an iPhone app. It wasn't like I'd be influencing political policy in any way. I'd just be telling them where to put the buttons.
"You know," I continued, "The thing is. When you really stop and think about it. What it all comes down to... In the grand scheme of things, the differences between Republicans and Democrats are pretty trivial. I mean, look at it in the scope of current global affairs. At a time when other countries are holding elections that could literally institute an entirely different form of government, what are we arguing about? Contraception? Prayer in schools? We all respect the same basic fundamental principles. God-given rights. We all believe in the sanctity of the Constitution."
They liked that. I could hear them mmhmming, making notes. "Just wondering," they said. "How do you feel about Obama?"
Now, as it turns out, one additional benefit to interviewing with the GOP is you can go ahead and make any claim against Obama that you want -- no matter how ludicrous or offensive it may be -- and no one will question its validity, or your sincerity, so long as you say it with conviction. I took a deep breath. "There's just this... this... self-righteousness to the Obama and the Democrats. You know what I mean? It's like they think the world owes them something."
They hmmhmm'd knowingly in chorus. They were buying it.
And then I remembered things the elder Hebrews in my family had said, sentiments my own father had occasionally echoed. Truth be told, I don't even know the details of the thing. I have no idea if any of this is true or not and I'm guessing that, like most everything else political, it probably isn't. But what I'd always heard was that somehow the Republicans were better for Israel, despite Obama being the only president in history to hold a Seder.
Some said it had something to do with the apocalypse, that is, that they felt we needed to preserve the sanctity of Jerusalem so that when the apocalypse came along it wouldn't be the wrong folks that were living there when the shit hit the fan. Anyway, this is what my friends who were Jewish Republicans used to say. Somehow they were willing to forgo all the demands of the underprivileged in this country in order to save their homeland, which, it seems to me, does a pretty good job of protecting itself, in part thanks to all those trees we bought for them back in the '70s. Nevertheless, it was there, so I figured, hey, might as well go for it. And so I did. I let go completely. I jumped the shark. I pulled the Jew card.
"Well, and, you know," I said, "I'm Jewish and everything so I care a lot about what happens to Israel."
A brilliant play, I thought. I hadn't lied. And I hadn't actually said anything about the Republican party. I hadn't made any false statements about my own feelings. I had only repeated the party line. Let them fill in the blanks.
A couple of days went by. I got nervous. Wondering how I could be so foolish to think I would ever get the job in the first place. Which would be worse, I thought, working for Mitt Romney or being rejected by Mitt Romney for all the wrong reasons?
Then, suddenly, I got an email from the placement agency. The Romney people had liked what they heard. They wanted me to come in for a second interview.
Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Steve Brykman's 'I'm with Mitt: Adventures in Amercia!' Coming soon!