Liberals Come Up Against Reality

In our weird new world, where hope and wishful thinking are the same as accomplishment in the confused minds of many – obviously including the Nobel Prize folks – it’s worth recognizing real accomplishment. For example, comedian Al Franken is cashing in on his election to the Senate by renting out the list of donors who contributed to his campaign. According to a listing in the 9-28 issue of Direct Marketing News, the trade journal guys like me read, we can rent the list of Franken’s donors – all 40,029 of them – to send those people whatever mail-order offers we wish. Perhaps a pitch for a pill that cures insanity.

This is not a story you’ll find covered by the media. It’s a bit of inside baseball. I live in the direct marketing industry, where privacy is a unicorn. If we want a list of married couples between the ages of 25 and 35 who contribute to ASPCA and buy vitamins and drive Chevys, we can get it. And if you’re on it, we get you. And we think nothing of it. It’s necessary for commerce. 

But one wonders if the liberal supporters of Senator Franken expected their names and addresses and other contact information to be merchandised on the open market?  My guess is many would disapprove. It is, after all, naked capitalism – that thing the liberals’ darling Michael Moore suggests we ought to do away with altogether, and that the President seems determined to kill. I would imagine a lot of Franken’s supporters would be disturbed at the picture of the senator peddling their data to those who sell fish oil supplements, kitchen gadgetry, magazines, newsletters, and what-not. He might even sell it to evil big corporations, like credit card issuers and insurance companies. According to the notes in the advertising for the list, these donors want universal health care and all troops withdrawn from Iraq. It said nothing about wanting their names sold or getting more junk mail made from murdered trees.

To be fair, many candidates, campaigns, political organizations on both sides of the aisle engage in the rental of their donor, supporter, or member lists for commercial purposes, in exchange for money. I’m not suggesting Franken is guilty of any funny business here. Only that, in his case, these supporters would probably never anticipate his selling of their personal information, and might object if given the chance. That doesn’t count for anything, though. There is money to be had pimping out these donors, and like nearly every politician, Franken is grabbing for it. A quick study. Probably not much money from such a small list, by the way, but to a politician, every penny matters – unless it’s your money.

It’s a minor matter, but one more illustration of the challenges presented by reality.  A capitalist reality: assets leveraged for income. Smack up against another reality, Franken has trouble with the Senate health care destruction bill, in that it seeks to whack medical equipment manufacturers with a new, big, fat tax – but Franken’s state is home to a number of such manufacturers, who provide a lot of jobs and real economic stimulus. Oops. That same Senate bill fails to provide health insurance to about 20-million Americans, so it’s 20 million miles away from the universal coverage he promised when campaigning.

Realities, small or large, are such nuisances. Actually delivering on glib promises after winning office is not nearly as easy as throwing them about when campaigning. This is the swamp every naïve new pol stumbles into. More knowing liars like President Obama find themselves bearing a growing weight, as talk inevitably gets replaced with the need to do something. Slowly, everybody decides they expected something other than endless campaigning, speech-making and raising money for re-election. Maybe not taxing and wildly spending and killing jobs, either. Doing something is always a lot more complicated than it looks.

To Obama, to Franken, et al, the old rhyme: if wishes were horses then beggars would ride; if turnips were watches, all men would wear them by their side. However many awards are dispensed for wishing, reality will intrude to ruin the celebrations with that ugly question about ugly details, like, “What have you done?” And Senator Franken ought be cautious about which horse he hitches his wagon to. Even liberal media pundits are starting to grouse about Obama’s rhetoric without results. Why, Chris “thrill-up-his-leg” Matthews recently pondered aloud if Obama was capable of discerning what could be done versus impossible thus empty promises. Uh-oh.

By the way, if unearned awards are going to be handed out, by all means, give an Oscar to Franken. Might as well give him an Emmy and a Tony too. Why not?