NEW YORK, N.Y. June 20...The hottest souvenir at the Republican Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul this summer won't be McCain buttons--it will be Obama flip flops and matching shorts.
So says Efraim Durg, president of Shmatte Statements, a design firm that specializes in politically-themed clothing. Three pregnant workers have died since Durg put his Chinese factories on twenty-four shifts, churning out the millions of units he predicts he will sell at the convention and throughout the election season.
"We've invented an anti-advertising strategy that will become the standard for all future campaigns," he says. "Instead of tee shirts with boring slogans like "Hope for a Change," or "Get on the Truth Local," we offer an eye-catching garment that also provides ammunition for political debates."
Durg says his "eureka moment" came while watching coverage of Obama's latest decision to forgo public financing for his campaign. "The phrase flip flop kept being repeated," he says.
"At first I wondered why Obama was so strongly identified with a piece of casual foot-ware. Then I realized that this could be the hook for a revolutionary fashion line."
Durg describes his Obama flip flops as "walking metaphors." The straps have pictures of the young Barry Obama going right through the Harvard years to the present Barack Obama incarnation.
Durg swells with pride as he describes what he calls "the sole iconography."
"On the left sole we have Obama's old friends--the Reverends Wright and Pfleger, Hamas biggie, Zahar, Tony Rezco, Jimmy Carter, etc. On the right sole we have a large caricature of his new best friend, Ehud Olmert..
"Left and right, get it?" he asks with a nudge and a twinkle.
But Durg is proudest of his shorts. Made out of silk like basketball gear they have two sides.
"On the flip side, the front we have some early statements," Durg says. "You know, like 'I will accept public financing,' or 'Nafta benefits all Americans,' something like American Jews have an excessive concern for Israeli security or Oil companies must pay a windfall profits tax. Then you turn to the flop side on the back and you see Public financing is a way for Republicans to game the system or Jerusalem will be 100% Israeli, and maybe something catchy like Nafta Shmafta."
Durg has left room on the shorts for more flips and flops which he will sell as iron ons. "We can ship 'em almost as fast as he can say 'em," he says.
But Durg isn't satisfied with half the market. On the drawing board is a McCain line, which he will break out at the Democratic convention in Denver.
"We start with a pair of orthopedic shoes with three inch lifts for McCain's debates with Obama," he says. with a visionary gleam in his eye.
"Then a pair of plain blue serge trousers with panels, front and back. When you open the panels you see a pair of adult diapers-inscribed with some of McCain's priceless statements. I'm thinking We'll be in Iraq for a hundred years or The surge is working or the classic Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran.
"But here's the beauty part," Durg says, hugging himself with glee. "When you spray a little water on the diapers it activates the invisible ink and you see the stuff McCain wishes he hadn't said. You know like Nobody leaves this plane until I get my Flomax or I think I mean: The work is surging, plus something like CINDY, YOU F.....G C..T and ending with another Beach Boy classic, You'll Have Fun Fun Fun When Daddy Gives You Tax Breaks Today."
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