Penn's "Launch Strategy" Ideas, December 21, 2006: Shortly after Clinton's reelection, Penn tried out some themes in this flattering memo to his boss. He suggested former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a role model: "We are more Thatcher than anyone else." Penn believed that voters view their president as the "father" of the country. "They do not want someone who would be the first mama," he counseled. "But there is a yearning for a kind of tough single parent." (He did not propose divorce.) Penn thought voters were "open to the first father being a woman." But he warned again about the perils of being seen as too soft. "A word about being human," he wrote. "Bill Gates once asked me, 'Could you make me more human?' I said, 'Being human is overrated.'"
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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.