COMMENTARY by Lee Walczak November 2, 1999

Al Gore, Alpha Male -- with a Feminine Touch
Maybe this is where the Veep is getting his new image-building advice...

Vice-President Al Gore has been paying Naomi Wolf, the feminist author, thousands of dollars a month to help him figure out how to become the top dog. Ms. Wolf has been telling Mr. Gore that he is a beta male, a subordinate figure, and must learn to become an alpha male, or leader of the pack, before the public can accept him as President...

The New York Times, Nov. 1, 1999

Memo to: The Vice-President
From: Naomi
Re: Your feminine side
Date: Oct. 29, 1999

Sir: Great performance in the Hanover (N.H.) town meeting with Bill Bradley! You really absorbed our action plan, and it showed. You were masculine -- but not too macho -- yet showed more of your feminine side without being fey.

As per the plan, I watched the entire debate from a Tupperware party in Bayshore, Long Island, and the verdict of my sisters in styrene was nearly unanimous: We'd buy the entire set of frost-free freezerware from you any day. You were that Presidential.

Loved the earth-tone Dockers wardrobe we picked for you at Macy's. Don't listen to your TV advisers -- brown works just fine on the tube, and it softens you, evoking your fire-sign and stirring distant tribal memories of meals around the hearth. (Have you tried the Hush Puppies yet? Really think with George W. doing the Tony Lama-boot thing, we've got to get past wingtips.)

Highlights of the evening: Calling everyone by their first name; doing the Liddy Dole/Oprah walk-and-talk shtick; using bodily appendages other than your eyebrows to emote; and especially asking that woman questioner which one gives her the most trouble, her husband or her child. Perfect, it tells women you know men at heart are just squalling children.

Areas for improvement: There were occasional lapses into high-testosterone, hunter-gatherer-type aggressive behavior. When you slide off a question to launch an attack on Bradley's budget-busting plans -- even though the big lug is just sitting there -- you need to be less overt. Perhaps linking the attack to the actual question might help? What do you think?

Next debate, my sources in the Bradley campaign tell me, Mr. Bill isn't going to be quite so passive and may actually criticize you for something -- the Bhuddist Temple thing maybe? Remember what we agreed your response would be: Instead of slashing back (so crude, so male), just roll your eyes softly, give him the wounded-Doe look, and say "Bill, Bill, what's happened to you -- you used to be so, so, decent, until that Dick Morris character got to you..."

But basically, you're doing great, Mr. Vice-President. I'm still working with Tony and Carter at HQ about staging that surprise Lilith Fair reprise concert at the Grand Old Opry next month. That'll blow the political writers away. Ted Turner says CNN will go live for that, so it looks like a winner (Ted's co-leader Jane likes it, too).

I've also got you (and your favorite down-home recipes) set to go on Martha Stewart's TV show next month. The Oprah booking is a go for December. And we're preparing to leak Jonathan Alter the dynamite story of your groundbreaking '80s move to break the gender barrier at the Junior League.

This thing is on track, sir, rest assured. Remember what I keep telling you: There's no particular mystique about being feminine.

Your sister, your friend,

When he's not inventing imaginary political memos, Walczak is Washington bureau chief for Business Week

EDITED BY DOUGLAS HARBRECHT _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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