- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2005

No more kisses

This Valentine’s Day, Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, encouraged the romantic sweethearts in his party not to buy chocolates from three of the nation’s biggest chocolate producers: Hershey, Nestle and Mars.

After all, he warned, all three are “red” companies — purportedly supporters of President Bush and his policies.

It’s not just Hershey’s Kisses that Democrats were asked to give up. Outback Steakhouse is similarly a target of the left, as are hundreds of Wal-Mart stores that are “not so blue.” And Democrats are pumping Hess “blue gasoline” these partisan days.

“You may have voted blue, but every day you unknowingly help dump millions of dollars into the conservative war chest,” reads the mission statement of Buy Blue — buyblue.org.

“By purchasing products and services from companies that donate heavily to conservatives, we have been compromising our own interests as liberals and progressives.”

Buy Blue is developing an extensive list of companies for Democrats to monitor — “to lift the veil of corporate patronage, so consumers can make informed buying decisions that coincide with their principles.”

The impact, if any, of buying blue — or red — remains to be seen. There’s always the question of whether a consumer, regardless of party, will give up his Almond Joy solely to demonstrate party allegiance or principle.

The Hershey Foods Corp., the largest North American manufacturer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery products, recently announced record sales and earnings for the last quarter, with revenues of more than $4 billion.

And last Friday came word that the company hopes to double its outstanding shares, generating even more money. With such a promising job-market future in these uncertain times, we wonder how many Democrats among the candy makers’ 14,000-plus employees appreciate being snubbed by their own.

Happy meals

The American Progress Action Fund, the sister advocacy organization of the District-based Center for American Progress, observes that President Bush has had several “warm” dinners with foreign leaders during this week of negotiations in Europe.

Still, administration policies — from Iran to Kyoto — continue to leave a bad “aftertaste” on the continent, the group says.

So much for Mr. Bush making small concessions on this journey, like during dinner with French President Jacques Chirac, when he pointedly announced a plate of Belgian “frites” as “french fries.”

Talking for once

In search of clarification, one White House pool reporter watching this week’s arrival ceremony of President Bush in Slovakia pulled aside a senior administration official and asked about the president’s expression of support for the negotiations by Britain, Germany and France with Iran.

Yes, the administration official confirmed, it represents a shift in attitude.

“Last fall, we were yelling at each other,” he noted.

Relic no more

Before he left Germany for Slovakia and meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Bush took a stroll with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder through the Gutenberg Museum, where Mr. Bush observed that one of the tailing White House correspondents, Richard Kyle of Bloomberg News, was sporting a Boston Red Sox cap.

Mr. Schroeder, probably more familiar with the world-famous New York Yankees, could then be heard repeating the words “Red Sox.”

“He used to not wear that until they won the championship,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Schroeder.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]



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