Back in the mid-1980s, the marketing geniuses at Coca-Cola decided the country was ready for a change. They rolled out “New Coke,” with a different flavor, and yanked old Coke off the shelves.
But reality intervened. Americans weren’t ready to change their soda. Sales of New Coke were abysmal, and Coca-Cola had to scramble to bring back “Classic Coke.” Today New Coke is a memory, while Classic Coke continues to generate massive profits worldwide.
Today’s Democratic Party has the exact opposite problem. Coca-Cola wanted to change, and the people didn’t. Now, the country wants change. But as this week’s Democratic National Convention shows, the party cannot deliver.
According to the RealClearPolitics.com poll average, only 30 percent of Americans approve of the job President Bush is doing. Things are even worse for Congress. RCP finds that just 17 percent approve of the job lawmakers are doing, while 74 percent disapprove. We want change, indeed.
During the primaries, Barack Obama seemed to understand the drive for change. And in many ways, he himself was a change. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Sen. Joe Biden -- Obama’s eventual running mate -- pointed out in 2007. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
But this week, that storybook turned out to one we’d read time and time again.
Obama’s coronation week certainly purported to be about change. “The 2008 Convention: Americans Gathering To Change The Course Of A Nation,” the convention Web site declared. Instead, though, the whole thing looked distressingly familiar.
Monday featured speeches by Nancy Keenan, president of the pro-abortion group NARAL-Pro-Choice America, Reg Weaver and Randi Weingarten, heads of major teachers’ unions, and tributes to Sen. Ted Kennedy (an official presidential candidate in 1980, an unofficial one in countless other years from 1972 on) and former President Jimmy Carter. It was a rogue’s gallery of failed ideas and the people who represented them.
Tuesday was a bit better.
Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a man likely to win a Senate seat this fall, gave the convention’s keynote address. That was a change, but one in the wrong direction for most of the partisan liberals in attendance. Warner, after all, governed as a fiscal conservative when he served as Virginia’s governor. He brags on his fiscal acumen and even trimmed the size of the state’s bureaucracy. If he wins in the fall it’ll be because he’s far to the right of the average Democrat. He’s hardly the change convention-goers are seeking.