McCain’s Rehab Pick-me-up


People like to be comfortable.
Lush For Life confirmed this when we created a thirty-second advertisement for Dodge pick-up trucks. We thought it was hilarious. It featured two 400 pound, truck-driving Muslim lesbians in rainbow burqas.
Unfortunately, it really bombed with the focus groups. All the Dodge owners in the audience left in a hurry to trade in their pick-ups (they got a group discount on the Ford F-150), and the agency fired L4L on the grounds that our work makes people uncomfortable.
Republican presidential contender John McCain made the same mistake when he stated that over 3,000 American lives have been wasted in Iraq. The national comfort-o-meter went so far off the scale that alarm bells were heard from sea to shining sea, and McCain quickly went into rehab to do Comfort Language 101.
We all know they have been wasted, but he needed to learn that marketing language has to be soft. It must enfold the buyer like a cloud of luxurious feathers. Our guys’ lives were “sacrificed for freedom”. John Boy, we need words which support the soul, like a pillow of dreamy reassurance. But enough about the mattress industry.
I pity the 24-hour TV news networks. Their job is to sell news, which is like trying to sell toilet tissue made of coarse abrasive to a world which is looking for something soft, reliable, silky, and oh so very, very comfortable.
If the networks showed us real news, it would be maimed and dying American boys in Baghdad, the complexities of world economic conditions, the harrowing conditions in Darfur, and child slavery in India. Sort of like half an hour on a StairMaster, and you don’t even get a cute butt.
No, give us Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral, and bitchy comments on Hillary Clinton’s legs. Breasts, celebrity divorces, gay pastors, suspicious-but-harmless devices near Congress, and aircraft that plough innocuously into snow banks. This stuff is like flopping in an over-stuffed recliner with a cold beer or a hot latte. Mmmmm… mindlessly delicious. And you can hardly blame them for producing what sells.
The next national spectacle will be watching presidential candidates exploring the depth of our need for comfort, and finding that it swamps idealism, logic and common sense. Dennis Kucinich has it coming. And John Edwards? Since when have poverty and higher taxes been comfortable subjects?
The roadmap to the White House lies down a broad, easy, strollable path. Perhaps the 2008 winner needs another Karl Rove, with a talent for hearing that inner voice of human comfort. The voice that whispers our attraction to bigotry, the delights of being judgmental, the enticement of feeling superior, and the ever-hopeful desire to believe in a free lunch.
I enjoy a comfortable recliner and a hot latte. And I can sure hear that inner voice. Perhaps American needs me?
The job will probably have longer-term prospects than pretending to love Dodge pick-up trucks, and it sounds more comfortable than wearing pillows inside a rainbow burqa.

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