It was a beautiful fall day and, for once, I was happy to go to work. I had a spring in my step and an extra sprinkle of free-trade nutmeg in my soy latte. I had the sort of peace and contentment that you only get the morning after a Republican makes a mistake.
I called an intern meeting for that morning, which is to say that I recorded a Vine on the elevator on the way up and tweeted it to everyone. (I could have done a Periscope but Aunt Joan told me not to use it anymore after the incident when I went up New York to help the campaign staff seal off Bergdorf Goodman when the former Secretary needed to get her hair done. It was an awesome Periscope but it kind of got out in the right-wing media, and I’m very sorry about that, but you have to admit that the lighting was just fantastic.)
"All right," I said, stepping up to the specially designed podium that I’d had made to not look like a phallus but the other thing. "Did everyone see the Sean Hannity show last night?"
I dodged a wad of paper that someone threw at me. "Whoever threw that needs to put that paper in the recycling bin once we’re done," I said. "Seriously, didn’t anyone see Kevin McCarthy on Hannity?"
"Who?" someone asked.
"Hannity. Sean Hannity. Does a talk show on Fox. Hates the former Secretary," I explained.
"No, the other guy."
"Kevin McCarthy? House Majority Leader? In line for the Speaker of the House?"
"Oh, that guy." Clearly, I was going to have to do some political education with this new crop of interns.
"This guy," I said, and I turned on the projector and queued up the YouTube video of McCarthy:
Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping, why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known anything that had happened, had we not…
"Okay. This is what we run with today. We hit McCarthy with everything we have. And don’t be afraid to drop some sick Tailgunner Joe beats on him, okay?"
"I’m sorry, Tailgunner who?" one of the new interns asked. "Is that a rapper?"
"Like Fetty Wap?" someone else asked.
"Tailgunner Joe McCarthy," I said. "See? They have the same last name. I don’t think they’re related, though. Still, you can really drive that comparison home."
"You’re going to have to explain, Justin," Emma said.
"Show of hands," I said. "Who here has heard of Joe McCarthy? Senator from Wisconsin in the 1950’s? The Red Scare? House Un-American Activities Committee? Anyone?"
I looked out over the podium and saw a sea of blank faces–except for Emma, who was texting something. And then I got a text on my phone, and it was from Emma. The text read, Nobody cares, move along, twerp.
"I am not a twerp," I said. "And quit throwing those paper wads at me. I mean it."
"We need to spend the rest of the day pointing out that the Select Committee on Benghazi is a scam to hurt the former Secretary politically," Emma said. "Go heavy on Condescending Wonka for this one, I mean it. Back that up with the Matrix Morpheus and those stupid Star Trek memes; might as well pull out all the stops. Hit them hard, hit them fast, and don’t let up. Got it?" They evidently did, as the sea of blank faces started to look relieved, and then slowly filed out of the conference room.
"I only call you a twerp when you’re acting like a twerp," Emma said. "I do it out of love. Hence the little smiley face."
"How can they not know who Joe McCarthy was?" I asked.
"Look at them," Emma said. "Most of them are snotty white-privilege Ivy League washouts. I’m actually more impressed that they know who Fetty Wap is."
"Fetty Wap?"
"Google it, twerp."
"You have to stop," Aunt Joan said.
"Stop what?" I said.
I was in the middle of doing a meme with the guy from the Dos Equis commercial. "I don’t always form select Congressional committees to investigate terrorist attacks," it read, "but when I do, I do it to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign."
"Stop with the you-know-what references. The B-word. Don’t make me say it."
"But it’s okay, Aunt Joan. Kevin McCarthy admitted it was political. Now we can use it against the Republicans."
"You don’t have any idea what you’re doing, Justin," she said. "You’ve had your fun, now lay off."
"But it’s working," I said. "I got like a hundred retweets on the Batman-slapping-Robin that I just did. And three of them were from Iowa organizers. It’s gaining traction."
"McCarthy gave us a gift," she said. "He defused the issue. All we have to do is say ‘witch hunt’ every time the other side brings it up, the way we do with cattle futures and Whitewater and the travel office and the pardons. We say that it’s in the past, and that there’s no sense in rehashing it, and it’s time to move on. We’re even going to be able to do that with the e-mails, you watch."
"But we need to go on the offensive about this," I said. "Point out that the Republicans are misusing their power."
"Right now, without us doing anything, all ‘Benghazi’ means today is that Republicans are using a terrorist attack to discredit the former Secretary for political reasons. That’s perfect. If it ever starts to mean anything else–like four dead Americans, and the former Secretary lying about how it happened and why they died, it becomes a liability. So we need to put it behind us, and the sooner, the better."
"This is the first time we’ve had the chance to push back in months," I said. "We’ve dropped in poll after poll. This seems like the perfect place to start turning things around."
"We still have to go through the former Secretary’s testimony," Aunt Joan said. "That’s going to be total amateur hour, of course. But when that’s over, we go radio-silent on the issue. We have a lot that we can push back on, so focus on those things. Gun control. Choice. The next idiot thing the next idiot Republican says."
"It seems like we’re wasting an opportunity," I said.
"You did good work today," Aunt Joan said. "You made a difference. But now you need to stop and do the next thing, whatever that is."
"Aunt Joan?" I asked.
"How do we de-fuse the e-mail scandal?"
She grinned. "It’s all set. You watch."