The McNugget President
by David Goodloe

When I was fresh out of college and working as a reporter for a daily newspaper in central Arkansas, I found myself in the press entourage that covered then–former Gov. Bill Clinton and his opponent in the gubernatorial runoff for the Democratic nomination.

Typically, the reporters who were assigned to cover the candidates followed in a separate plane as the candidates bounced around the state, hopping from one small airstrip to the next. At each stop, the reporters would pile into vehicles that were provided by the local campaign workers for whichever candidate the reporters were following that day, and they would be taken to the rally where the candidate would speak.

The candidates usually gave the same speech repeatedly all day — the “speech of the day,” as some reporters jokingly referred to it — so, by the third or fourth stop, there really wasn’t much point in pulling out your notebook until after the speech was over because that was when newsworthy developments were likely to happen — if they happened at all. And sometimes they didn’t.

On one such late spring/early summer afternoon, I recall sitting in the backseat of a campaign staffer’s car and being driven to the candidate’s local campaign headquarters, where a rally was scheduled. The staffers in the front seat apparently were local businessmen, and one was discussing a new product that he thought was worthy of investment. Those who invested in this product, he assured his companions, would be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

The product was McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets — which, as I recall, actually had been introduced in the larger markets, like New York and Los Angeles, a few years earlier, but, as usual, the product didn’t make it to Arkansas until its public appeal had been verified elsewhere.

Anyway, I remember this businessman gushing about this product, how simple it was and how it could taste like anything you wanted it to taste like, depending upon which sauce you ordered. No one else in the car had tasted the chicken nuggets before, and we were all enthralled by the idea that one product could be so many things to different people.

Now, personally, Chicken McNuggets have always tasted like chicken to me — no matter which sauce I consumed with them. But some folks swear that they taste different with different sauces.

Well, it occurs to me tonight, as I watch the State of the Union address, that Barack Obama is like those Chicken McNuggets. And that really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

I don’t know how often I’ve heard him refer to himself as a walking Rorschach test, a blank screen upon which people could project anything they wished.

I guess I never really understood what he meant by that before. I should have. Even though I live in Texas, which gave McCain more than 55% of its ballots, I encountered many Obama supporters in the fall of 2008 (Dallas County, where I live, has been devoutly Republican in the past, but it was like a little blue island in a sea of red counties in the northern half of the state that year, giving Obama 57% of its votes). And each one seemed to see a different Obama, even when they watched the same event.

Some of those supporters saw an advocate for homosexuals. Others saw a champion of the elderly. Still others admired his commitment to ending American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan or his defense of the sick and the poor. Then there were those who believed in his support for (or his opposition to) all sorts of other causes — global warming, “green” products, clean energy, animal rights, you name it.

He even had supporters who were on opposite sides of the same issue — and each supported him because he “shared” their views on that issue!

Honestly, how can anyone be expected to prevail over someone who gets credit for being both forand against the same thing?

Whatever you cared about, he cared about. That was his appeal. He was less filling and tastes great, a floor wax and a dessert topping. He was all things to all people.

I don’t know. Maybe his rhetoric does taste different, depending upon which sauce you swallow with it.

But, as I say, I’ve been watching tonight’s State of the Union speech. And you know something?

It still tastes like chicken to me.

David Goodloe got his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas in 1982, and his master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas in 1991. He publishes the thoughtful weblog Freedom Writing. This post is cross posted from his website.

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  • Well written article, though the same can be said for virtually any politician.How about “compassionate conservate” GWB? What about “fiscal conservatives” Reagan, Bush I and Bush II who were “fiscally responsible?” The latter is exactly what conservatives wanted to hear, AND they wanted to hear that the fiscally responsible thing to do was give everyone a tax cut, and they were “tough on crime,” “tough on drugs” and “tough on communism,” all of which fit magically into “fiscal responsibility” just like special sauce on the McNuggets. I’ll bet you bought it all and didn’t even notice the taste of chicken because it was your flavor of the century and you gobbled it down so often you can’t even taste the 11 trillion in debt your “fiscally conservative” chefs cooked up. Unbelievable. Maybe you’re not as blind as you seem. But it seems like you think your team doesn’t do exactly what you describe Obama as doing.

    Oh yes, because somehow, the taste of GOP beef somehow still doesn’t taste like BULL to “conservatives”, here’s a map of exactly where all that debt came from (hint: the “borrow and spend Republicans”):
    http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

    • David_Goodloe

      Your assumption is faulty. I never voted for Reagan or either of the Bushes.

      In fact, I’ve been a Democrat all my life — until recently, when I concluded that neither party cared about me or my problems until they needed my vote. That’s when I became an independent.

      • I sit corrected. You see, we have lots of ‘conservative’ commenters here who
        want us to think of Democrats as promising what they can’t deliver and
        present the GOP, especially Saint Reagan, as the long lost honest best hope
        for America.

  • DaMav

    Apparently they hate American people.

    Oh gosh! Whatever did you do with that ‘Dissent is the highest form of patriotism!’ sandwich board you folks used to carry around during the Bush years?

  • ksb43

    Wait a second. The Democrats took away your unemployment insurance?

    Why don’t you at least TRY and be intellectually honest.

    Congress has voted twice to extend unemployment benefits, both times with overwhelming Democratic support and nearly NO Republican support.

    When the Dems vote to spend money on…let’s say…unemployment benefits, they are excoriated. When they try to reform healthcare, they are excoriated. Basically, when they try to DO ANYTHING, they are lambasted.

    Conversely, when the POTUS brings forth a spending freeze, it is derided as a political stunt. When a bipartisan commission on debt reduction is mentioned, even though it was initiated by one Dem and one Rep senator, it is denied in the Senate by–you guessed it–the Republicans.

    Your assertion holds no water. Have your own personal pity party, if you must, but the POTUS is working toward solutions of real problems we face.

    I will leave you with this gem: Republicans, for the good of the country, for the love of god: lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    • David_Goodloe

      My benefits have expired. Is that honest enough for you?

      And, since you apparently haven’t been paying attention, I am NOT a Republican. Never have been. I was a Democrat until recently. Now I am an independent.

      • ksb43

        I neither know nor care what your party affiliation is, was or will be.

        What I object to is saying “the Democrats” took away your unemployment insurance.

        Patently, they did not. Your unemployment insurance expired. Very different thing.

        Good luck in your job hunt.

        • David_Goodloe

          It’s a matter of how you look at it, I guess. The Democrats are in the majority. They extended benefits to others. Mine were not extended.

  • DLS

    It’s Obama that’s been the object of cult worship and groupie-hood. Let’s be correct, for a Change [tm]. Fortunately, with the exceptions of a few, like Sullivan, reality has finally intervened for most.

    The speech was okay. He whined about the Supreme Court defending freedom of speech, and was notably debasing in saying he wanted to work with Congress to subvert this in some way. He was actually pretty good and sparing with the jabs at Bush, though he lost it when he tried to separate the bulk of the fiscal disaster he and the Dems in Congress have created for us, from what he ascribes to this past year, and amusingly tossed the bulk of the responsibility toward Congress, and argued for the bipartisan panel that will provide cover for future tax increases. He didn’t admit that the stimulus was a failure, and he’s insisting on continuing with health care legislation (saving face is understandable), but also with environmentalist politics-based (not science-based, as he dishonestly described it) energy policy. (The sops to mainstream alternatives can’t be believed until they happen.)

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics/AP/v-fullstory/story/1449790.html

    His “spending freeze” (which exposes the diseased agitation of the far Left) is a gimmick, and doesn’t even take effect for another year — another year of monstrous spending, the real problem we’ve faced and which dwarfs what Bush and the Republicans did in previous years.

    ” Mr. Obama’s major contribution to deficits has been a record spending spree. In 2007, before the recession, federal expenditures reached $2.73 trillion. By 2009 expenditures had climbed to $3.52 trillion. In 2009 alone, overall federal spending rose 18%, or $536 billion. Throw in a $65 billion reduction in debt service costs due to low interest rates, and the overall spending increase was 22%.

    In one year.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703906204575027181656362948.html?mod=rss_Today's_Most_Popular

  • DLS

    “Saint Reagan”

    The person in the USA who refers to Reagan the most considers him a villain: Thom Hartmann.

  • DLS

    David,

    “My benefits have expired. Is that honest enough for you?”

    I feel sorry for you — I really do. I hope you manage to get out of this situation. It’s going to be tough if there is no work where you are. It’s not a lack of wanting to work or turning down work, but that there is no work to be had, in several cases currently.

    A number of states are likely to see many residents have their unemployment insurance exhausted this year. (They are running out of money for other reasons as well, and there’s only so much stimulus money that can or should be used merely to continue existing expenditures.)

    When I was in Michigan, the economy had been depressed for several years before the slump began, and people were already reluctantly leaving (they have roots there) to find work elsewhere. (I have now joined them; I’m elsewhere, now.) While I was there, I listened to some who were out of work or in other distress, and one person told me something that had me thinking. I am fiscally and even somewhat socially conservative, and for other reasons believe the federal government should be remote from the lives of individuals, but the plight of some of these people made me think about alternatives to the current bank bailout and stimulus that certainly were better ones, when I thought about it. One person told me all she wanted, after seeing the banks get a huge bailout, was just a voucher to use to pay her mortgage. She stressed she didn’t want cash, to be spent on other things; just a voucher, specifically to pay her mortgage.

    Then on a radio show recently I heard of a guest from a labor organization who made a good point. Think of unemployment insurance and the plight of many, and think about the enormous bank bailout (in particular, with the quick turnaround and big payments to execs we’ve all learned about this year). This labor official or spokesperson asked a perfectly fair question: Considering how much money was given to the banks, how much severence pay would that money instead provide to everyone who had been put out of work this past year, if that’s how the money would have been used instead?

    It’s not too late for the Dems to consider ideas like this when crafting new “stimulus” legislation this year.

    • jchem

      It’s not too late for the Dems to consider ideas like this when crafting new “stimulus” legislation this year.

      They’re way ahead of you, DLS:Senate OKs debt ceiling hike to $14.3T

      Senate Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion increase in the federal debt limit Thursday, .seeking to push off another politically painful debt vote until after the midterm elections.

      Didn’t Obama say something about Washington acts like everyday is election day? Gee, I wonder where he got that idea.

      • DLS

        “Didn’t Obama say something about Washington acts like everyday is election day? Gee, I wonder where he got that idea.”

        “But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can’t wage a perpetual campaign…”

        I thought it was ironic that Mr. Perpetual Campaign (complete with listening tours, and town hall traveling circus tours) disparaged campaign-style behavior last night.

        • David_Goodloe

          Interesting point, DLS.

          That leads me to another question I’ve been asking but no one has answered.

          While I am glad Obama finally began discussing jobs last night, why didn’t he talk about joblessness on Labor Day? He could have, but he didn’t. He was busy, instead, campaigning for health care reform and preparing to give a speech to America’s schoolchildren the next day.

          If job creation was one of his priorities, why didn’t he address it on Labor Day?

          • DLS

            “If job creation was one of his priorities, why didn’t he address it on Labor Day?”

            This was the latest episode I remember — Obama’s recent trip to Ohio.

            The jobs created, or largely dreamed of being created, count; jobs threatened don’t.

            “President Barack Obama’s first public outing since his party’s recent electoral setback will bring him on a ‘listening tour’ to Lorain County, Ohio, Friday, where he will visit an experimental wind-turbine plant but bypass a home-health-products maker that’s the biggest employer in this corner of the Rust Belt.

            The White House deliberately avoided a stop at Invacare Corp., a high-tech wheelchair maker that employs 1,300 people in Lorain County, to avoid drawing attention to Democrats’ foundering health-care bill, people familiar with the president’s itinerary said. Opposition to that legislation was a factor in Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, a loss that cost Democrats their ability to cut off GOP Senate filibusters.”
             
            “Invacare is the nation’s biggest maker of customized high-tech wheelchairs and also makes other home health-care products. Under the Senate version of the health-care bill, Mr. Mixon’s company would have paid $12-14 million in additional taxes on 2010 revenue, he said.
             
            In anticipation of that hit, he had frozen hiring and contributions to his employees’ retirement funds. He said he was relieved that the health-care overhaul looks dead in its current form.”
             
            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704423204575017491442129182.html?mod=WSJ_economy_LeftTopHighlights

          • David_Goodloe

            It’s interesting that you mention Ohio. When Obama was running for president, during a campaign appearance that was less than an hour and half’s drive from Lorain County, he promised tax credits for businesses that hired Americans (as opposed to outsourcing jobs to other countries) in 2009 and 2010.

            That proposal was not part of the stimulus package that the Democrats pushed through last February. And PolitiFact.com now rates it as a “broken promise.”

            http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/promise/505/create-a-new-american-jobs-tax-credit-for-companie/

          • DLS

            ” a ‘broken promise.'”

            Or in a single word, “Change.”  What was broken?  False “Hope.”

  • dduck12

    defensive arguments like yours”Mr. Goodloe, you deserve a job or an opportunity at one. Hindsight is 20/20, but I still wish O had started focusing on jobs from the get go (I know looking back and blaming is so immature).Some posters on this site are so disappointed and angry with the emperor’s clothes that they are verbally foaming at the mouth. Don’t take their criticism seriously, wait till you see how they blast me and my poor icon.

    • David_Goodloe

      Thank you.

      I think you touch on what really bothers me these days. It’s the childishness of both parties.

      Can you tell me where to find a bumper sticker that urges people to throw ALL the bums out?

      • dduck12

        throw ALL the bums out”

        That should be a big seller.

        • dduck, sadly, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if we threw every single one of them out of office. The new crop would hire the same political operatives, just as they always do, because those are the ones who know how to work the levers of Washington. The lobbyists and corporados would pay a visit and make sure the new crop knows the rules: you need massive money to get re-elected. Play ball with us or you’re already dead in the water.

          And the new crop, just like the “contract on, er, for America” crowd, would bail on their promises the second they were in office. Remember how many of those who pledged to term limits honored their pledge? (hint: rhymes with Nero)

          • dduck12

            Nero”

            Sad but true. I learned a while back, that there are two major things that motivate people to act.
            One is love (or if you prefer emotion), and we know how some actions backfire when we overlook things like lack of experience and believe in unreasonable promises of extreme change. (Of course we want things to be perfect and beautiful, that’s cool.)
            The second is fear, and throwing all the bums out, I think, fits in that category. Of course you are correct, that is impractical and probably foolhardy. However, any incumbent should fear being thrown out and hopefully some will, at least for a while, “shape up” so they won’t have to ship out. They can’t just fiddle while Rome burns.

  • Maybe it’s time for a reality check. (again). In a capitalist system (which I favor) supply increases with increased productivity. Demand increases with increasing wages. Econ 101. For most of our history, these increased together. But in the last 30 years or so, wages have stagnated while productivity has increased. We did this through “globalization” so instead of paying American workers, we provided incentives to outsource production to countries with lower wages and without pesky regulations on worker safety, the environment etc. But the only way you can sustain a consumer economy without increasing wages is to borrow and spend. Fortunately or not, as your bias dictates, we had both savings and equity on which to buy stuff we couldn’t afford.

    Nationally, we borrowed massively from China, Japan and others (we borrow $1 billion a day from China and give most of it back buying cheap goods). We made China both our banker and our manufacturing sector. So now, those on the right can blast Obama and the Dems as if they engineered this mess overnight, while I blast away at Reagan and the Bushes who are, as I have PROVEN with White House figures (including those from the Reagan and Bush administrations), are responsible for >80% of the national debt. “Borrow and spend” is not a good idea, especially in times of prosperity. But history and bias aside, we have killed the golden goose, the American middle class. Whine about Obama if you want. Who cares? American workers will NEVER be able to compete with workers who make less than $2 a day, and folks, that is 40% of the world population.

    Where’s your job? We willingly sent it overseas, then allowed the companies who did so to take their profits overseas too, so they don’t owe any taxes on their profits. We willfully trashed our economy for the benefit of a tiny segment of Americans who are doing just fine. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.

  • julieannie

    I’ve watched the commercial side of my industry slowly leave the U.S. Some of us are still here working here but much of the industry has largely gone away. I often consider that it I wasn’t working the current project, I would be looking for work somewhere else around the world. How are we going to compete with those that have nothing to lose? As government goes, the actions in congress haven’t given me much hope for the future either, it looks a bit like we are headed for problems with everyone wanting a hand out and those who have a bit more to lose screaming no. We need to recognize our competition in the world and take a more realistic look at what we need to do. I thought the idea of creating more exports was interesting perhaps we can get some of our funding back again by creating more here.