One reader writes that she was upset by the Census form mailed to her recently.
It wasn't the question about her age that disturbed her, or whether she planned to vote in the 2010 elections.
And it wasn't even question No. 8 (How much does it concern you that the Democrats have total control of the federal government?) -- despite the fact that the choices did not include the one answer a lot of reasonable people might want to check: About as much as it concerned me when the Republicans had total control of the government.
The reason that answer wasn't included is because this very official-looking form was not sent by the U.S. Census Bureau but by the Republican National Committee.
And what most upset this particular Lowcountry resident was that it requested $15 to "defray the cost of processing my Census Document."
It was, as she puts it, a scam.
This "Census Document" is Exhibit A in the slam-dunk case that the GOP is just flat-out better at politics than the Dims.
It is essentially a printed push poll that is completely legal, looks important and perpetuates talking points that are usually only about half of the story.
The "Census" blames the Dims entirely for the deficit (Do you think the record trillion dollar federal deficit the Democrats are creating with their out-of-control spending is going to have disastrous consequences for our nation?) when they most certainly had help.
It hints that the party in power is soft on terrorism (Do you trust the Democrats to take all steps necessary to keep our nation secure in this age where terrorists could strike our country at any moment?), which is the latest in a series of new talking points.
And it suggests that "severe government regulations" are one of the things hurting the economy.
You know, those tough laws that keep offshore drilling safe and prevent the financial industry from crashing the economy.
Neal Thigpen, the longtime Francis Marion University political scientist (and Republican, too), says he's seen the form. He called it a smart tactic to make fundraising letters look like official mailers.
Hey, the Census Bureau even sends reminder postcards for them.
And yes, he notes, they are full of "loaded" questions.
But it works much better, for instance, than those whiny Democratic magnets they send out that implore you to "Stop GOP Lies!"
"It sounds like something Michael Steele thought up," Thigpen says with a laugh.
And indeed he did -- he even signed it.
The fine print
So on behalf of one concerned, civic-minded local, consider yourself warned that this is a political fundraiser and that you don't have to send money to pay for processing your real Census form.
But if you decide to respond to the official "2010 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CENSUS" (a trademark of the Republican Party), be sure to read the fine print and beware of a couple of typos.
First, it says your answers will be kept confidential -- but "confidential" likely includes any media outlet they can get to run the results of said survey.
And note that the form says: "When finished answering your Census, please return it along with your generous contribution in the enclosed postage-paid envelope." You know, they might ensure a higher return rate if they put another disclaimer on the form:
"No funds will be disbursed in adult nightclubs."