Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For the common toilers of journalism like myself, the newspaper game is not the most lucrative in the world. That is why I have opened a business to supplement my wages.

For the common toilers of journalism like myself, the newspaper game is not the most lucrative in the world. That is why I have opened a business to supplement my wages.

You could say I am a sort of political consultant on the side. I carved out this niche by asking myself a fundamental question. It was not, as you might suppose, “Why don’t I have hair?” No, for once I asked another question: “What is it that politicians need in order to do their jobs in America today?”

At first I thought the answer was brains, but then I realized — silly me! — that many successful politicians from the president on down show little sign of gray matter.

Then it dawned on me. If you want to be a successful politician, you need some scapegoats to keep the voters in the cheap seats distracted from the real issues. And where will these scapegoats come from? That is where the business opportunity lay.

Now, you may think that scapegoats come naturally to even the most brain-addled politician. True, but fortunately this is America, where we like everything processed and often we don’t make dinner because we like to pick up a nice safe, convenient fast-food item.

My new business caters to that desire. It is called Scapegoat World Inc., and it is where we serve up piping hot quality stereotypes to the political elite.

We, the trained experts at Scapegoat World, offer the greatest selection of scapegoats in America. Of course, given the nature of the political climate, most of our clients tend to be conservative lawmakers. We also provide many stereotypes for our loyal talk-show customers.

Yet for reasons of pride or stubbornness, some politicians are reluctant to seek out our services, foolishly thinking that if enough political action committees rally to their incumbency everything will be fine.

Then one day they find themselves in an election battle with some irritating liberal policy wonk who knows that mercury emissions aren’t really good for nursing mothers, despite what the friendly and generous folks down at the National Polluters Council say.

This nerdy little challenger will speak knowledgeably about the issues, with reams of statistics and quotes at hand. At such a time, the professional politician will break out in a sweat and dial our number _ 1-800-POLGOAT (a trained operator is always standing by) or quickly visit our drive-thru window.

Today we have a special on what we call our Liberty Package, which offers three fine scapegoats for everything that is wrong with America. This package is as topical as today’s headlines, election-tested and absolutely guaranteed to end substantive debate as soon as introduced into a political campaign.

The first element is the illegal immigrant. Our scapegoat is a scowling fellow that no one could ever think had crossed deserts for a better life for his family. We have made out scapegoat to appear like Osama in a sombrero.

Why, just the other day I had a U.S. senator _ I must be confidential about the names of customers _ who bought a whole pack of illegal immigrant stereotypes to use in his campaign. He comes from a part of his state that has few immigrants of any kind, but he forgot this because he lives in Washington now.

No problem. He was pleased as punch to have a stereotype to inflame the voters. Anyway, scapegoats have nothing to do with common sense or reality. They are simply the worst nightmares of the American people, who, lord love ’em, aren’t much for thinking things through.

The second scapegoat is a combo _ that old reliable, the loving gay couple intent on marriage. Our scapegoat duo is specially designed to make married heterosexual couples feel threatened because they might have no one left to feel superior to.

With the third part of our package, the flag burner, the Liberty Package of scapegoats is complete. By the way, it is hard to come by actual flag burners but our stereotype is a golden oldie from the Vietnam era, long-haired and bearded with peace symbols. This scapegoat shouldn’t be confused with our standard liberal scapegoat, which comes in two styles: male professor and female professor.

One thing I hate is when customers call looking for Jewish or African-American scapegoats. I always say, “Hey, this is the new century! Times have changed!” Well, sort of.

(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)