Wednesday, April 11, 2007



In 1992, George the First went to a convention of the National Grocers Association in Orlando and destroyed his chances of re-election by demonstrating how out-of-touch he was with the lives of ordinary Americans. The coverage in the NY Times sealed his fate:
Today, for instance, [Bush] emerged from 11 years in Washington's choicest executive mansions to confront the modern supermarket.

Visiting the exhibition hall of the National Grocers Association convention here, Mr. Bush lingered at the mock-up of a checkout lane. He signed his name on an electronic pad used to detect check forgeries.

"If some guy came in and spelled George Bush differently, could you catch it?" the President asked. "Yes," he was told, and he shook his head in wonder.

Then he grabbed a quart of milk, a light bulb and a bag of candy and ran them over an electronic scanner. The look of wonder flickered across his face again as he saw the item and price registered on the cash register screen.

"This is for checking out?" asked Mr. Bush. "I just took a tour through the exhibits here," he told the grocers later. "Amazed by some of the technology."

Marlin Fitzwater, the White House spokesman, assured reporters that he had seen the President in a grocery store. A year or so ago. In Kennebunkport.

Some grocery stores began using electronic scanners as early as 1976, and the devices have been in general use in American supermarkets for a decade.

I doubt it will be as lethal to his political career, but Giuliani, for all the back slapping camaraderie and faux Brooklyn accent, just demonstrated that he's cut from a cloth not so dissimilar to that of the Bushes. No, he didn't wander into a grocery store in drag. Instead he wandered into Alabama-- and showed the locals that their day to day cares are not something he's remotely familiar with. When a reporter asked him about prices for some basic staples, like milk and bread, "America's Mayor" was clueless.

Although statistically, he wasn't that far offbase with his answer-- "A gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30"-- the prices he quoted had little to do with food prices where Giuliani lives. When Associated Press checked the web site for D'Agostino supermarket on Manhattan's Upper East Side they found "a gallon of milk priced at $4.19 and a loaf of white bread at $2.99 to $3.39." In Montgomery, Alabama, where Giuliani was speaking, a gallon of milk goes for about $3.39 and bread is about $2.

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