A lesson I hope Obama won’t learn from “New Coke”

January 28, 2010

This year, the world will celebrate the 25th anniversary of both the death and resurrection of the familiar soft drink, Coca-Cola.  On June 25, 1985, The Coca-Cola Company introduced so-called New Coke.  The introduction was met with an unexpected public outcry.  What was hoped for, obviously, was a passionate embrace of a new product.  Instead, the company was assailed by unhappy consumers who began hoarding the original product before it became unavailable.  That unfavorable outcry ultimately resulted in the company returning the original formula to the marketplace on July 11, 1985 renamed Coca-Cola Classic, to stand beside New Coke.  I had the very real privilege of being an employee of The Coca-Cola Company during that time, albeit in their Minute Maid juice division.  Nevertheless, it did afford a bit of an insider’s view of some of what was going on in the minds of the decision makers.  It really was a fascinating process.

The catalyst for New Coke was statistical data that pointed objectively to a decline in market share for the product “Coca-Cola” when compared against a myriad of new beverage options.  This was compounded by the company’s own version of the Pepsi Challenge which did in fact indicate that in blind taste tests, consumers expressed a preference for the sweeter flavor of Pepsi Cola.  The numerical/statistical data seemed to point to an obvious conclusion…change the product to more closely meet consumer taste preferences.  What was never anticipated and therefore measured was consumer reaction to the kind of change that was proposed in replacing a familiar old product that would have celebrated its 100th birthday the following year.  As a result of that uproar, The Coca-Cola Company listened to its customers with a different set of ears, and while the statistical data was unassailable in its accuracy, the unmeasurable emotional attachment to the old product was almost instantly in view, and that is what ultimately won the day. 

There is a lesson to be learned here by President Obama and the democrat party in general.  The numerical/statistical data coming out of the 2008 General Election was conclusive on the surface.  The democrats won majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as the White House.  It would seem that these results indicated a mandate to proceed with their agenda.  And the democrats understood it in that way as well.  They quickly forged ahead with their hard-left policies that resulted in unprecedented spending leading to enormous deficits.  And they moved ahead with the take-over of what were formerly privately held enterprises, such as General Motors and attempted to convert what has been described elsewhere as 1/6th of the U.S. economy to a government controlled system of health care, much like what is present in Western Europe and Canada.

Consumers (voters) expressed their displeasure with these plans.   The so-called Tea Party movement and the raucous Town Hall meetings of the summer of 2009 were not something to be taken lightly, although it would seem that is exactly what the democrats did.  And in the fall of 2009 they continued to press ahead with their unpopular plans.  And by the elections in November of last year, several incumbent democrats were ejected by voters to be replaced by republicans.  And then, most recently, in the special election to fill the Senate seat of the late Edward Kennedy, republican Scott Brown expressly campaigned against the policies of the president and congressional democrats and won by a large margin.  Consumers (voters) were speaking.

But unlike the management of The Coca-Cola Company who were attentive to its customers and brought back the original formula of Coke, democrats and Obama in particular seem completely blind to the expressed preferences of the people who ultimately allow them to retain their current  jobs.  And while there have been a few voices of moderation, I am  not in the least bit convinced that the leaders of the democrat party get it.  And as November 2010 approaches, it will become increasingly clear whether or not they are willing to learn from the “apparent” lesson-by-the-numbers of the November 2008 General Election, but also learn from what is perhaps more nuanced expressions of the will of the voters as evidenced by what transpired in the summer of 2009, November 2009 and January 2010.  These are lessons that I hope they do not learn between now and being turned out later this year.

And for President Obama, another lesson that he might  learn from New Coke…It is no longer available.  It was found to be so unpopular that it was taken off the market.  2012 is coming.


Another run past “The Shack”

January 27, 2010

The Shack, written by William P. Young, has reached best-seller status and on some levels has almost achieved a cult-like following.  People claim that it has changed their spiritual lives.  I condescended to read The Shack almost a year and a half ago, because so many people, especially some of my much younger (college-aged) friends were so enchanted by it  and I sensed (I believe correctly) that I really needed to have first hand knowledge of the content of this book that seemed to have such an overwhelming influence on so many.

I reviewed The Shack and expressed my concerns with what I had read, all the while conceding that if anything, it was a quick read and it had something of a sweet, sentimental message.  Still, my concerns far out weighed any positive things I might have had to say about the book.  You can read (or re-read) my review HERE.

My concerns aside, Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY wrote an important article today about The Shack and the implications of its popularity on orthodox Christianity. Click HERE to read it.   His analysis is nothing short of brilliant.  The article is somewhat long, but I highly recommend it  to anyone who  holds a position of favorability for The Shack.

The conclusions that Mohler reaches ought to result in some serious soul-searching among those who are enthusiastic about The Shack and its fans must ask themselves if they, along with William P. Young, hold to the progressive (liberal) theology of universalism that seems to be the thread that is woven throughout the book.  If you loved, or liked, or even mildly appreciated The Shack you need to read Mohler’s article and check yourself.  Do it!

Pat Robertson and Federal Headship

January 18, 2010

There has been a lot made of Pat Robertson’s comments last week about the disaster in Haiti, at least if measured by the number of Facebook updates and blog titles I have come across.  I have intentionally tried to steer clear of reading most of those, so if my comments below repeat things you have already heard or seen, I apologize.  But I assure you it is not for having simply regurgitated that which I have read elsewhere.  Here is the clip that is in question.

Several thoughts on what I heard.

  1. There are indeed many occasions when Pat Robertson opens his mouth and removes one foot only to replace it with the other.  Nevertheless, he surely must have done some good for the kingdom over the course of his life in ministry.  While this latest incident marries very nicely with his occasional insensitivity, and maybe even ignorance, most notably around the time of 9/11, those of us who have never made some statement for which we have regrets, may go ahead and start throwing stones.
  2. I wonder if there really is any truth, as Robertson says, that the Haitians actually swore a pact with the devil?  Is there some historical evidence of this “treaty”?  What is his source?  The only thing I found in my research (albeit limited) were some references to a voodoo priest making some such “deal”, but frankly, I was not able to determine with certainty if the article was serious, or if it was a parody.  At best, it sounds more like legend than fact.  Most of the other results from my searches were directly related to Robertson. 
  3. Contrary to the murmuring on the internet, and the title of the You Tube video, I did not hear Robertson say that the devil directly caused the earthquake as a result of this supposed pact.  What I did hear is that the Haitian people have been “cursed by one thing after another” since they made their supposed deal.  
  4. Irrespective of whether or not the Haitians made some sort of “pact” with the devil, a more important and even more long-lasting deal with him had already been struck on the Haitian’s behalf, as well as our own.  Our forefather,  Adam, made a deal with the devil, and by virtue of his office as federal head, that deal has been binding on Haitians and every other person (with one exception) who has walked on this earth.  All of creation groans under the terms of that deal.  As a result, mankind (and indeed all of creation ) has been “cursed by one thing after another.”  For Robertson to focus on the possibility of some more recent arrangement between the devil and the forefathers of the current Haitian people misses the whole point of scripture.
  5. While we have a federal head who struck a deal that is binding on us, we have also struck deals the devil.    I believe, that God would refer to these deals as “personal sins.”
  6. Robertson is correct that our prayers for the Haitian people should include that there be a turning to God.  And that is excellent advise because, we have a second federal head in Jesus Christ, who has consummated another far better deal for those that the Father calls to be His own.

President Obama = Shameless

January 17, 2010

President Obama, while speaking at a church in Washington D.C. this morning, declared the following, with respect to a headline grabbing current event:

It will be a victory for dignity and decency, and for our common humanity. It will be a victory for the United States of America.” (emphasis, mine)  Source:  Fox News.com

So, what is “It“?  When the President makes reference to “dignity” and “decency” and “common humanity,” one might assume he is referring to the overwhelming outpouring of concern for the people of Haiti, suffering through the earthquake that literally leveled their nation.  And that concern has been and still is being evidenced by the millions upon millions of dollars that have been donated to relief agencies and their efforts to address this human tragedy.

But NO!  The president is not talking about how Americans are digging into their own pockets to help people who they have never met and likely never will, who speak another language and who live hundreds of miles from the closest American city.  Instead, he is declaring that our “dignity” and “decency” and “common humanity” will be indicated by the extent to which a few hundred elected officials in Washington D.C. authorize the government to stick its hands in our pockets to fund the largest government take-over of a private market in our country’s history. 

To conclude that governmental redistribution of wealth is the indication of a people’s decency, rather than that same people’s voluntary benevolence, is the height of indecency

Mr. Obama, have you no shame?

You can be the judge.

January 14, 2010

As tempting as it might be to take the lead of Representative Joe Wilson (who called Barack Obama a “liar” during his address before a joint session of Congress last year), I will refrain from doing so.

HOWEVER, I will say that I think that the President’s pants (are) on fire!

HT:  Leigh for the video.

An exercise in missing the point.

January 12, 2010

Late last week, it was revealed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made some “inartful” comments during the run up to the 2008 Presidential election.  The object of those comments was Barack Obama and the subject was Reid’s opinion that Obama’s light(er) complexion and his ability to turn on and off a “Negro dialect,” made him electable.  Attention has been given, justifiably, to Reid himself, but yesterday, something else that is very telling emerged.  And that is that President Obama thinks this whole matter is about HIM.

This clip has more content than is necessary to make the point, so I apologize for that, but I could not find one that narrows in on the specifics.  The section of this clip that I am thinking about starts at about 0:45 when Obama comments on the Reid matter.

The problem is that Obama (and his media apologists who are trying to make this go away), thinks Reid’s comments are exclusively about Obama.  I will grant you that the context of Reid’s comments DO, in fact, focus on Obama and his characteristics which Reid felt were to his electoral advantage.  But the implications of Reid’s comments have a broader reach and are not limited to just Obama and his particular complexion and manner of speech.

By implication, Reid is arguing that African-Americans who have more melanin in their skin and who speak with a distinctive African-American dialect, are not electable to the highest office in the  land.  Reid’s predisposition, as evidenced by his “inartful” comments, is racist on its face.  How else could it possibly be characterized?  And Obama’s gracious gesture in characterizing these comments as being “in praise” of HIM, utterly misses that point.

Thank you, Fox News

January 11, 2010

Fox News has done it again, thank you very much.  They have hired-on yet another Republican presidential “hopeful” as a contributor.  You might think I am being cynical, but I am serious.  I am glad they have hired Sarah Palin to join Mike Huckabee on the network.   And while these employment gigs do not assure that either of these two will NOT throw their hats into the ring for the 2012 election, I do hope they find this line of work more satisfying that holding elected office, particularly the highest office in our country.

Now, I know that my delight in this will come with some disagreement, perhaps even from the other soul who lives under the same roof that I do.  So, let me clarify.  I think the ideas and policies of both Huckabee and Palin are outstanding.  They both represent the more conservative interests that I have, and are a better reflection of the values that I  hold.  However, I believe both are unelectable to national office, not so much because of their political views, but instead based on their personalities and styles.  I am sorry that is the case, but I am afraid that it is.  To be elected to national office, policies are marketed, no doubt.  But there must also be a “packaging strategy” that I fear neither of these candidates possess.  And there is little chance of remaking either, as they are known quantities now and any make-over would be seen for exactly what it is.

Every time I see Mike Huckabee, I am reminded of Gomer Pyle.  His “aw shucks” style and his corny metaphors that seem to be attached to every analysis, wear thin on me and even though I like the points he makes, he does not seem to carry the kind of buttoned-down professionalism that I would like to see in the person who leads our country.

As for Palin, I will say that she was the ONLY good thing about the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008.  But that comment should not be understood to say that I think she is “good.”  For as much as I like her no B.S. style and her lack of reverence for the institutions that make up Washington D.C., her “maverickiness” is also a bit undignified.  Folks, we are talking about the most powerful office in the WORLD.  And her lack of gravitas, is off-putting for me when thinking about the prospects of supporting her as a Presidential candidate.  Furthermore, she is a walking parody.  When I think “Sarah Palin”…I see Tina Faye!  And the main stream media, who the Republican candidate will NEVER win over, will see her in the same way.  While the media only has one vote apiece like we do, they can still do some incredible damage to a candidate apart from the ballot box.

No, unfortunately, I do not have an alternative to offer above these two.  My preference the last time around was Fred Thompson.  But his obvious reluctance to engage the process in 2008 was both disappointing and disgusting.  He did his part (by virtue of his apparent ambivalence) to contribute to the resulting nomination of McCain, who was without a doubt the worst Republican presidential candidate in my lifetime, although I will say he has had some close competition.

We have a year for an electable candidate to make his/her interests known.  We have a very real chance of booting the current President out of office in 2012, but it WILL take a serious and marketable candidate to make it happen.  As a final thought, if either of these two leave the sets of Fox News to be nominated the Republican presidential candidate, I will CERTAINLY support either of them as they run against Barack Obama, as either “Gomer,” or” Tina” would be far and away superior to him.