October 3, 2012
As we prepare for the great debate between President Barack Obama (blessed be his name) and that guy with the Mr. Fantastic Four haircut unloved by the media, I ask you to keep someone in mind:
A real smooth talker who can convince you of anything.
Not Republican Mitt Romney. Whatever he says at the presidential debate on Wednesday will be dismissed as something said by a rich guy worried about the debt. Besides, Democrat Obama has already declared victory, via reverse trash talking.
"Governor Romney, he's a good debater. I'm just OK," shrugged Obama, who proved once again that he's humble, except when he's parting the seas so voters can sneak past pharaoh and get to the polls.
The gamesmanship, the spin, it's all part of the hoopla. The presidential debates are a political version of that "Ninja Warrior" reality TV show in which contestants scramble over obstacles. One verbal slip, the candidates fall in the mud, subject to merciless media ridicule.
Republicans want Romney to declare conservative jihad, though he's not a conservative. He's not much of a debater, either, which is why Obama isn't worried. And Democrats want Obama to stick to the script — about how rich guys are spawn of the devil and give cancer to the wives of unemployed steelworkers — so the president won't have to answer boring questions about that federal tax increase coming for everybody in January.
But let's not forget about that special someone I told you about at the top of this column. And who is this guy?
The Reverse Mortgage Guy.
I'm speaking generally, of course, using Reverse Mortgage Guy in generic terms, because there are many reputable reverse mortgage guys in many reputable reverse mortgage TV commercials. But such men are almost identical to other noted smooth talkers, reputable men like the Sell-Your-Gold-By-Mail Guy and his polar opposite, the Buy-Gold-Before-Armageddon-Comes Guy.
And don't forget the Save-Thousands-on-Groceries-by-Vacuum-Sealing-Your-Leftovers Guy, the ShamWow Guy, the Snuggie Guy and Mr. Handy Bundler.
So to save ink, I'm just going to call all of them Reverse Mortgage Guy. They're good at what they do. They sell. And they've sold me just about everything except the Armageddon Gold kit. They could sell dead rats as earmuffs to blind men.
The one thing they all have in common is that they're on TV, they're smooth talkers, and each is an expert convincer. This cannot be underestimated, for commercial pitchmen or for presidential candidates. Because convincing the American people of what you won't do to them after the election is perhaps the most vital political skill in the world.
Like many Americans, I pride myself on my independence, but in reality I'm rather vulnerable to smooth talkers on TV. And once they start their smooth talking ways, I'm helpless.
The ShamWow Guy? Yeah, he got me. I think it was the accent. He so genuine.
"You really want to get a ShamWow?" asked my wife.
"Oh, yeah," I remember insisting. "It soaks up an unbelievable amount of cola. You wring it with a twist, and it'll soak up more cola. It's great for cars, boats, kitchens and baths. And, honey, it's educational!"
Now the ShamWow is lonely, in its bucket under the sink in the laundry room, waiting for Zeus the Wonderdog to have an accident.
Mr. Handy Bundler got me too. And don't even get me started on the Slob Stopper, for only $14.95 with the slogan "Bibs aren't just for babies!" or The Snazzy Napper — which looks like something a terrorist might wear, only with little sheep on it — "it's like privacy in a bag!"
Or that EggGenie, the bamboo steamer set with all those chopsticks, the knives that can saw through frozen foods. They're all irresistible. What is it exactly about the Reverse Mortgage Guy?
I know Reverse Mortgage Guy is hustling me, but I can't stop listening, and once he's through, I must buy what he's selling. You can hear the discussion in countless American homes.
"Honey, get out the credit card!" says the husband. "If we buy a boatload of Snuggies right now and invest in the future, we'll get a discount!"
"No!" says the wife. "Don't buy stuff on credit!"
"Oh, honey," says he. "Snuggies are so warm and toasty."
But after spending all that money you didn't have on Snuggies and Snazzy Nappers and ShamWows and so on, guess what? The credit runs dry. That's where Reverse Mortgage Guy comes in.
He tells you not to worry. He'll give you cash money to fix up your house. And all you have to do is sign your house over to him.
The house doesn't go to your kids when you die. He takes it instead. But think of all that cool stuff you could buy that you really wanted when you wanted it.
And if the kids don't get the house, at least they'll be the proud owners of a used ShamWow and a stained Slob Stopper.
I told you that Reverse Mortgage Guy is smart. Wonder what he'd be like in a presidential debate?
He might just win.
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