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GOP to the world: I yam what I yam


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2004, NEW YORK -- Polls taken after the selection of Senator John Edwards as Vice Presidential candidate revealed that the majority of Americans have a generally positive view of trial lawyers, and of personal injury lawyers particularly. Why shouldn't they? Such individuals -- slick, greedy, amoral though many may be -- are their allies against the far more slick, greedy, amoral corporations who too often stomp on their families.

Did the Republican Party not see those polls? They seemed to spend as much time insulting, blaming, and lustily booing lawyers as they did John Kerry this week. Why would they so flagrantly flaunt their stand on the unpopular side of that issue?

My theory is that if you are a successful, wealthy, corporate executive like, for instance, Dick Cheney, then virtually everyone you ever spend any time with hates those lawyers. Because it is their financial interests being sued. And when you spend all your time among people who share your belief, you find it hard to imagine that this is a minority opinion.

Likewise, the Republican Party elites continue to believe that everybody votes for the tax cut candidate, regardless of the example of Bob Dole, and regardless of strong indications that the national deficit is now a greater source of concern. And more generally, they believe that when the majority of American people say they think the country is heading in the wrong direction, what they really mean is that they want more of what the administration is doing. Make the tax cuts permanent. Liberate more countries. Eliminate more corporate regulations.

Corporations -- and remember the GOP is for all intents and purposes a Fortune 500 style corporation -- occasionally go through crises when customers start rejecting their product or service. Sometimes the answer is a new slogan, or a fresh label. Sometimes you need a broader change of marketing strategy, or some internal employee turnover, or to shift your target demographic.

The hardest thing to consider is changing the product. That can be very tough to see when you have spent years believing in and promoting the product and spending time with other people who all believe in the product.

It's entirely possible that the attacks on Kerry, the fear-mongering over terrorism, and events to come in the next 60 days will lead George W. Bush to re-election. But, as he said himself last night, he isn't going to change his swagger. The problem lies not in himself, he seemed to indicate. At least as of the last polling, a majority of Americans think otherwise.

Issue Date: September 3, 2004
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