Friday, May 23, 2008

The Celebrity Endorsement

Kevin Kusinitz over at The Daily Standard has a Friday morning column about celebrity endorsements. His research shows that they started with Al Jolson & Warren G. Harding. The idea clearly reached its zenith in the FDR years and has been in decline ever since. It seems to me that these days a celebrity endorsement for a politician does nothing to move the needle positively for the pol and is more likely to cause fans to lose their enthusiasm for the pontificating entertainer. Kusinitz points out that one Hollywood star who wasn't in the tank for Franklin Roosevelt was the great W.C. Fields. Fields wasn't too thrilled with the idea of capping movie actor's pay as part of the wage and price control mechanisms FDR championed in his socialist economic plans. Fields wrote to a pal about a radio broadcast he had been a part of:

"It would have been a lucrative adventure hadn't [taxes] taken such a bite out of my check-- due, I imagine, to the high cost of Mrs. Roosevelt's travel expenses."

I've always loved Fields but today I love him all the more.

Kusinitz refers to a Jimmy Durante short subject promoting Roosevelt's "National Recovery Act." Give it a viewing right here. The NRA was the horrific attempt by FDR to put the entire US economy under the command and control of the federal government bit by bit, piece by piece. Looking at the Durante film today we laugh... and then realize how close we came to a fascist state. I mean fascist in the true sense of the word-- not in the current meaning which translates to "I don't like your ideas but can't refute them logically so I shall simply call you a bad name I can't properly define."
So this Memorial Day weekend, despite the fact we have way too much government intrusion in our lives, we can reflect on the fact that it could have been worse. Far worse.
Amidst proms, celebrations, and cookouts we'll try to take time this weekend to say a thank you for all those who gave everything to provide this great, free nation for us all.
UPDATE: Speaking of the federal government trying to run the business of America, here's a classic from one of the most economically ignorant members of the US Congress. This week Maxine Waters threatened to nationalize the domestic oil industry. She was making this threat to an executive of Royal Dutch Shell (they deal with dictators from oil-rich countries every day, Comrade Maxine) but couldn't get her brain and mouth to form the correct word. She came up with "socialize". It comes around 1:10 on this clip. Notice the people in the background trying not to burst out laughing.