Now that Obama has been in the White House awhile, I asked my friend Drew, a lifelong GOP contributor, to lunch at a seafood restaurant near his K Street office to see how he was managing to get along.
“So is your public relations business suffering since the Democrats are in power?” I began, to express my sympathy before our lobsters arrived. I knew Drew didn’t talk much once he became absorbed in cracking open the claws.
“Never been better!” he replied to my surprise. “I had four or five failing clients and Obama’s bailed every single one of them out. They have asked me to write Congressional testimony expressing their appreciation. I’ve just booked a Caribbean cruise for my whole family.”
“What a fantastic stroke of luck,” I said.
“Luck nothing. They knew the government would say they were ‘too big fail.’ Anyway, they’re solvent now,” Drew replied. “And here I used to think the Democrats were bad for business.” Drew broke into an uncharacteristic smile. “And you know that little insurance company I represented that got swallowed up by AIG?”
“Death Can Be Beautiful?”
“Yeah. Their executives also took fat bonuses and I’ve been staying up nights writing their contrition statements at two thousand an hour. Say, you don’t know a few original ways to say ‘We’re really really really sorry,’ do you, something that will make taxpayers watching on TV break down and cry for them?”
While I pondered this request, Drew positively glowed: “And my little defense contractor–“
“The very one! They just won a contract to supply the guidance systems that go into those drone airplanes we’re using in Afghanistan. The Pentagon just gave them a big order.”
“How does that affect you?”
“It means after we come back from the Caribbean we can start planning for a Swiss ski vacation next winter. Relentless has asked me to write up a new ad campaign for Armed Forces Today. I’ve got a doozy. I’m calling it, ‘What the Army Needs Is A Few Good Drones.’ Get it? It’s a joke on the Marines.”
I got it.
The lobsters arrived but Drew didn’t even pick up his fork. He showed zero interest in his favorite delicacy. Leaning confidentially across the table he whispered, “And don’t breathe this to a soul, but Obama’s going to keep those fifty thousand troops in Iraq ‘til the cows come home, you know, defensive, to protect our embassy.”
“And this means?”
“My client, Forever Green, has the contract to paint the Green Zone and plant trees around our embassy and all the sentry posts. They own a palm tree ranch near the Everglades and each tree they export to Iraq will cost American taxpayers ten thousand dollars. That contract could be extended forever!”
“All things considered,” I pressed Drew, “don’t these government bailouts of your clients smack of the kind of socialism you’ve always been denouncing to me? After all, the government now owns a big stake in some of them.”
“I’ll tell you this as my good friend,” Drew said solemnly. “When the Democrats subsidize Republican businesses, it’s not socialism, it’s altruism, because what’s good for us is good for USA, and it’s something Washington should have been doing a long time ago.”
“Well, I must say, Drew, electing the Democrats has certainly been good for your business. Uh, does this mean you’re switching political parties?”
“No way!” he said. “I’m advertising on Rush to subsidize his attacks on those wasteful Democrat spenders he hopes will fail!”
“And if the Democratic National Committee learns of your contracts and asks you to contribute?”
“Oh, I’ll give them a little something, just like I give to the Republicans!” he said, finally starting on his lobster. “As far as my business is concerned, what’s the difference now between them?”
Sherwood Ross is a veteran reporter and public relations consultant. He formerly worked for the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Chicago Daily News, and as a columnist for wire firstname.lastname@example.org