Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Philosophy of Riblets

In the aftermath of John Kerry's defeat, there have been a lot of stories about the Democrats' attempts to figure out what went wrong.

This is probably one of the more bizarre theories:

One veteran Democratic strategist, Clinton White House political director Doug Sosnik, sums up the answer in one word: Applebee’s.

For Sosnik, the chain of modestly priced restaurants (more than 1,600 in 49 states), symbolizes precisely what is wrong with the party’s Washington-based elite.

Democratic leaders are out of touch with the American people, Sosnik said in a panel discussion Tuesday sponsored by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

“The leadership of our party has a cultural disconnect,” Sosnik said. “Our leaders — particularly Washington, D.C.-based — don’t really have the same life, day to day, as all those people out there in those red states. We don’t eat at the same restaurants. I don’t know how many politicians in town that are leaders of our party who voluntarily go to Applebee’s, unless it’s for work. . . .

"Talk about Applebee's, we don't even go to the Cracker Barrels and the Denny’s as well," added Donna Brazile, who served as Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000.

Strange. But let's examine it. If the key to reconnecting with the red state voters can be found at Applebee's, then it's all about the Riblets.

Riblets--Applebee's signature entree--are the ends of the rib bones that used to be cut off and discarded. Applebee's figured out how to take something that nobody wanted, and turn it into a commodity that everybody wanted. Now you can get riblets--or "rib tips"--pretty much everywhere. (I order 'em at Famous Dave's every time we go.)

There's an entrepreneurial spirit there. To be sure, proper marketing can make all the difference, but Applebee's is also being eminently practical. There's good meat on those rib tips. Waste not, want not.

But to take it a little farther, consider this as being the "Applebee's Philosophy of Life": If all you get from life is a pile of discarded rib tips, then call 'em "Riblets" and stick 'em on the menu.

Democrats need to speak to this enterprising philosophy instead of always promising to provide everyone with steaks.


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