The political potential of both New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) lies in the fact that they are not what they seem.
Ayotte is a fierce conservative who strikes voters as a moderate.
Gillibrand is a fierce liberal who strikes voters as a moderate.
Those are potent combinations in presidential politics, because in order to become your party's nominee, you have to convince the base you're one of them, and in order to win the general election, you have to convince moderates that you're not really part of the base that just elected you!
That's a sad, cynical setup, but as a prophesying magician might say -- "It is so."
The latest example of this came in yesterday's annual Club for Growth scorecard -- a conservative group that loves tax cuts and hates Mike Huckabee.
Ayotte ranked as the 10th most conservative senator in the chamber, despite her New Hampshire roots and moderate demeanor.
Meanwhile, Gillibrand ranked as the fifth most liberal senator, despite her moderate demeanor, upstate New York roots, and former life as a conservative Democratic congresswoman.
As such, the best way to conceptualize Ayotte and Gillibrand's political ethos is in the phrase -- "they are not what they seem."
In other words, they're like products in SkyMall magazines.
What does this look like to you? An ordinary dictionary, right?
Well, actually, it's what SkyMall calls a "Dictionary Diversion" that lets you hide valuables.
The theory behind this lightbulb is that, normally, a thief goes straight for the paintings to find the hidden valuables.
Skymall engineers found a way around this, and substituted a dictionary for a painting.
And what's this?
To me, it looks like four young men holding a banner, but actually, it's Skymall's "human slingshot", which comes in handy in case someone tries to mug you (just remember to bring it with you).
Again, just like Ayotte and Gillibrand, "It is not as it seems."
Now what about this next one?
To me, it looks like the result of an English longbowman who shoots toothpicks.
But actually, it's the "Hiccural Hiccup Stick", which is a quick, discrete way of stopping the hiccups.
Finally, what's this?
To me, it looks like a Valentine's Day gift spread from the Dollar Tree.
But it's actually a dog spa gift set (the bone might have given it away).
The source on all of these is the "Very Best and Worst of Skymall Tumblr", which is the best thing since Skymall itself.
But the point is -- if you're at a dinner party and want to explain Kelly Ayotte and Kirsten Gillibrand's potential in a way we can all understand, just start with "Hey, you know those magazines in planes?"