Monday, May 11, 2009

Pardon Me, But Did He Just Ask for Grey Poupon?

It wasn’t as big of a deal as, say, an Air Force One fly over, but it was the talk of the town – and the rest of the universe, apparently - the other day when Barack Obama and Joe Biden ventured beyond the walls of the White House on a quest for ground red meat. And, in just about the biggest scoop since the whole Bill Clinton “boxers or briefs” inquiry, information was skillfully gleaned by the media in abundant attendance indicating that POTUS and VPOTUS fundamentally disagree on a matter of concern to all Americans.

oe likes ketchup on his burger. Barack likes mustard. And not just plain old yellow mustard. No sir, he likes the good stuff - the brown and spicy stuff. As the president of the United States ordered his “regular” bacon cheeseburger at Ray’s Hell-Burger in an Arlington, Virginia strip-mall, he asked for it “medium well” and with mustard. In fact, he asked for Grey Poupon.

Part of the Dijon family of mustards (that’s French, for any conspiracy theorists out there), and made with a brown Canadian-born seed, with just a splash of white wine, Grey Poupon became a household name in the 1980s via the success of its television commercial. The spot featured one Rolls Royce pulling up alongside another, and then the famous question: “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon.”

The question quickly went viral across America as something of a cute, pompous, somewhat pretentious, and very snooty tag line. Now, if George W. or his Daddy had asked for it – that would have been the big story at Ray’s Hell-Burger. But alas, the idea of the two big guys hanging out with regular folks at a burger joint was too cool to complicate with anything that didn’t fit the desired picture.

And that burger “joint” – well, it’s not exactly a glorified White Castle or Steak and Shake – or even a Five Guys, it’s a spot where you can drop up to $17.50 on a burger. You can get yours with foie gras, bordalaise sauce, and even white truffle oil.

Just like Mickey D’s, right?

It turns out that maybe the cool “let’s-show-them-we-are-just-like-them” adventure was at least a little flawed, but you’d never know it by the news coverage. The New York Times featured it, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and other usual suspects, as well. The story even got a lot of play internationally.

Richard Nixon once walked on the beach in his street shoes and was brutally lampooned by the nattering nabobs of negativism in the press, ever after. George H. W. Bush’s fascination with the cool product code reader at a super market checkout counter in 1992 was evidence that he was out of touch.

But when Mr. Obama asks for Grey Poupon while trying to act like an everyday schnook ordering an artery clogging burger, it apparently happens with media impunity.