Mr. Lincoln? Have a seat. Bill Henderson, Henderson Polling and Livery. We’d like to thank you for coming in. We’re all just darned excited to be working the campaign. We’ve got about four more months before the election and thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the numbers. To be honest, Abe (can I call you Abe?), the numbers don’t look that great. Numbers don’t lie, Abe. We at the firm think it’s time to do a little image adjusting. Nothing major, mind you - just a tweak here and there.
Let’s get to it.
First, how married are we to this “ending slavery” thing? The latest numbers indicate that a majority of people, especially those in Mississippi, might not support a Lincoln candidacy that would free slaves. You see, Abe, the latest polls show that paying someone money to pick cotton costs more than beating someone to pick cotton.
It’s the economy, stupid.
No, no, no. Please don’t take that as an insult. This is politics, Abe. It’s not personal. I don’t mean that you are stupid. It’s just that the idea of destroying half the country’s economic power might not fly in some of the nation – you know - the white states. We’re in no way impugning your educational background, Mr. Lincoln. We’re here to help you win an election. By the way, for our promotional department, where did you earn your degree? Where were you educated?
You were home-schooled in a log cabin? What do you mean?
Ah. You taught yourself. I see. Well, let’s try to keep that between the people in this room, all right. No reason to mention that on the campaign trail. People like houses, Abe. Cabins are so yesterday. Did you go on to further your education? No? Well, we were informed you had passed the bar exam and you’re a practicing lawyer in Illinois. You passed the bar without a high school diploma? Geez. I have to tell you, Abe. That smacks of improprieties. Smells fishy, you know? I tell you what. Let’s just avoid the entire education question for the short term.
Let’s get back to this slavery issue. We’ve decided that rather than say “all men are created equal” we might go with the more palatable “the state of our union is strong”. It’s positive. It’s uplifting. It avoids controversy and it steers the conversation away from the fact that, as of this week, there are six states that have gone ahead and started their own country.
What’s that? All men are created equal? We’ll, that’s great sentiment, sir, but the facts speak a different story. Saying something like that would work to get us the black vote, which is noble, but we here at Henderson Polling and Livery deal with winning elections. The fact is there is no black vote. They’re slaves. They don’t count. Remember Dred Scott? In the eyes of the Supreme Court, they’re no more than mules. That’s a fact. How can we make this thing stick if you can’t stay on message?
Bottom line, Abraham. Do you want to win this election?
I thought so.
Don’t mention slaves.
Next. This may seem a trivial thing, but numbers indicate otherwise. How comfortable are you with the name Abe? Nothing. No. Not a problem. Unless, of course, you take into consideration that it’s a Jewish name. Some of our respondents in the latest polls have taken to calling you “Hebe” Lincoln, or – what was that other, Jim? Yes, that’s right. “Hebe-ra-ham” Lincoln.
Frankly, Mr. Lincoln, a Jew who wants to free the slaves - that’s a tough sell.
So, what’s your middle name? What do you mean you don’t have one? Everyone’s got a middle name. Not you. All right. Look. I have to tell you. That’s not trustworthy. People like a man with three names. What was that one the boys came up with, Jerry? Yes. That’s it. Matthew. What do you think? Matthew A. Lincoln. “Honest Matt”.
Okay, okay. Have it your way. We’re not married to it. Just do us a favor and give it some thought before a final decision. And remember – no Jew names.
Let’s see. We talked about the slaves, the name, stay away from your background. Are we done here, Bill?
Don’t freak out, now. Just hear us. Look at these numbers. “Would you vote for a man with a beard?” Out of 80 respondents, 68 said “no”, 8 said “yes” and 4 died of typhoid before completing the questionnaire. Let’s face facts. You can’t fool all of the people, Matt. You look Amish. People don’t want Amish leaders. They’re think you’re some kind of backwoods farmer who grew up reading by the light of an oil lamp.
What’s that? You are? You did?
Well, then it’s definite. No mention of background until our people can construct a more acceptable version. So, let’s shave, Mr. Lincoln. And let’s win that Presidency. Trust us. This time next year, as you sit behind your desk in the White House, overlooking a strongly united nation of slave owners, you, President Matthew A. Lincoln, will thank us.
Oh. One more thing before we break for lunch. You’re still keeping that nut ball of a wife locked away in the basement like we asked, right?