36 Steps for Those Without the Wisdom to Know the Difference

Patti Davis, a Santa Monica freelance writer, is the daughter of former President Reagan

Dear Bill and Hillary,

I’m writing the two of you to make you aware of an exciting new project that I am launching, and that I believe would benefit you greatly. It’s a group thing, but you seem to like crowds. And it’s dedicated to helping those in need--particularly the attendees; I know you’re also fond of things like that.

Let me get right to the point. It’s called the Shoot Yourself in the Foot Group, and its focus is on people who have an overwhelming appetite for self-destructive behavior, who can’t seem to help themselves, who take life’s gifts and exchange them for humiliation. (Sorry, the gift analogy is probably not a good one for you two.) Anyway, it’s a 36-step program; 12 just aren’t enough for this particular problem. The sessions are filling up quickly, so I urge you to register right away.

I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead such a group since I, too, have vast experience with shooting myself in the foot--both feet, actually. You probably remember in the 1980s, when my political activism and public denunciations of my father’s policies earned me the reputation for being angry, strident, childish and inappropriate. It has taken me many years of recovery to be able to stand up strong, own up to my past and say clearly and distinctly, “I’m Patti, and I’ve been angry, strident, childish and inappropriate.” You, of course, can choose your own words to describe yourself. But I must warn you: Each word can have only one meaning in this group. We will have no quibbling over what the word “is” means. It’s third person singular, it’s related to the word “be,” now get off it.


I have gathered some of the best minds in the country to help put together this recovery program. Of course, most of those minds belong to people in the group, but just because they destroyed their lives doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable consultants. In the Shoot Yourself in the Foot Group, we are dedicated to helping others as we ourselves wish to be helped.

Your case poses an interesting challenge, since, for both of you, the problem seems to be genetic. If there are any other family members who are exhibiting these tendencies, I urge you to make them aware of this group. Early warning signs can be things as seemingly trivial as altering the date on a library book to avoid paying a late fee or inviting the local drug dealer over for dinner.

There is help available, you just have to ask for it. And pay for it. Our normal registration fee is $100,000 per person. But in your case, I can offer you a group rate of $250,000 for four--the two of you, Roger and Hugh. If any other relatives wish to attend, we’ll have to negotiate a new fee. Perhaps Hugh can help with that.