Ed Driscoll

Cherry Garcia And The Merlot Democrats

Stephen Moore takes a tour of the Vermont factory which produces the left’s favorite ice cream:

Our guide is almost apologetic when he tells us that back in 2000 our lovable heroes got filthy rich by selling out to corporate food giant Unilever. But never fear: In the tour video, the new, aptly named CEO, Walt Freese, assures us that “our commitment to social and economic justice and the environment is as important to us as profitability. It’s our heritage.” I nearly have to wipe away tears streaming down my cheeks.
It is fortuitous that I am here the very week Ben & Jerry’s announced that, for the first time in 10 years, it will get back to “leading with its values” by spending $5 million on a social awareness TV ad campaign. More than one analyst has wondered aloud whether this is just a slick Madison Avenue advertising gimmick to hike profits. After all, corporate responsibility has become the chic new marketing theme for Fortune 500 companies like British Petroleum, Starbucks and even GE. But Mr. Freese assures us that “this isn’t a short-term strategy to drive up sales. These are issues that are important for our society to address.”

And just what are those issues? Here our earnest tour guide raises his chin a bit and proudly declares that the first ads are dedicated to saving the family farm. When I burst out laughing, 22 sets of angry eyes glared at me. For the past 100 years, as the productivity of the American farmer has surged to unprecedented heights, the number of Americans working in agriculture to feed the world has fallen from 35 workers per 100 to two.

This is called progress. What is Ben & Jerry’s proposed solution, anyway? To turn back the clock and abolish the tractor? Many Americans seem to be under the illusion that the small family farmer has lived a carefree idyllic lifestyle. In truth, this livelihood has traditionally involved backbreaking toil, work-days that last from sun-up to sundown, and monotony–which is why sons and daughters have been fleeing the farm for five generations. The only people who actually want to save small farms are people who’ve never worked on a farm.

The Ben & Jerry’s ads moan that the corporatization of farming is a horrid trend. I couldn’t help asking our tour guide during the Q-&-A why, if corporatization of farming is such a bad thing, that isn’t also true of the corporatization of ice cream.

Heh. Moore also wonders why the trial lawyers haven’t pursued Ben & Jerry’s yet and ponders a potential case of schadenfreude if they ever do:

Although this company touts its “wholesome and natural ingredients mixed with euphoric concoctions,” the truth is that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream mostly contains two hazardous ingredients: fatty cream and sugar.

Herein lies a second irony: This product is probably about as good for your health as a pack of Camel cigarettes–and at least cigarettes carry the Surgeon General’s warning labels. At Ben & Jerry’s, the saying goes “if you can’t eat a whole pint . . . in one sitting, you aren’t really trying.” But if you do, you might as well be injecting your arteries with Elmer’s glue. And they have no qualms about marketing this dangerous product to children. If you want to know the definition of a liberal’s dilemma, just wait till the trial lawyers slap Ben & Jerry’s with a billion-dollar lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg looks at another of Vermont’s favorite sons and his new catchphrase:

“No longer will the Democratic Party allow itself to be defined by the Republican Party,” Dean thundered recently at a Nevada confab.

So, after years of denouncing the GOP for unfairly labeling Democrats as effete, coastal liberals out of touch with heartland America, what label does Dean think best describes the Democrats? What cuts to their core? One word: Merlot.

He described the contest as “Merlot Democrats” vs. “Reliable Republicans.” Ah, yes, that’s a term that will rally the lunch-bucket crowd. That’ll put steel in Dean’s prediction that the “The South will rise again, and when it does, it will have a ‘D’ after its name!”

Now, in fairness, “Merlot Democrats” is an analytical label, not a rallying cry. But for those of us who believe in labels, it’s a telling one, demonstrating that Democrats remain right where they’ve been stuck for decades.

And that’s why the GOP has cause to cheer. It may have it’s problems, but they are the problems of success. The Democrats’ problems are the problems of failure. Of course, Dean might call them the “challenges of conviction” or some such – but that’s old wine in a new bottle.

And it’s just the ticket to drive a verbal stake through heart of the left’s increasingly elitist image!

(It’s also prompted Betsy Newmark to ask, “Couldn’t they have picked a wine other than the one so skewered in the movie Sideways?”)