Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Waldorf Salad Effect

Remember the 'Waldorf Salad' episode [edited: not the last episode as I originally posted] of Fawlty Towers? A hard-ass American and his English wife arrive at the hotel late, and Basil is too cheap to bribe his chef to stay and cook their dinner. It's not a hard order: screwdrivers to drink, steaks, and a Waldorf salad. Needless to say, Basil screws everything up and makes it worse by trying to make it look like someone else's fault, and the American tells his wife to get her bags -- they're leaving.

As the American gives Basil what for in the lobby, all the resident guests of the hotel line up to watch. The American tells Basil that his is the worst excuse for a hotel that he's ever had the misfortune to set foot in, and Basil asks his resident guests if they're satisfied. None say a word, and Basil starts to offer the American a refund with a supercilious sneer -- and then a voice pipes up, "I'm not satisfied."

And one by one each of the guests pours out a litany of complaints about the hotel's lousy service and shabby accommodations. The American's assessment of Fawlty Towers and its proprietor are fully vindicated.

This is what we are seeing in the American political landscape today. It's the end of what rdbrewer at Ace of Spades HQ called the Abilene Paradox: because a few individuals were pushed past their limit and spoke up about how crappy the ruling regime is, the people at large have now discovered that everyone else around them is as unhappy and fed up as they are.

The polls bear this out:

Tilted toward the GOP from the start of the year, the political environment has grown even more favorable for Republicans and rockier for President Barack Obama and his Democrats over the long primary season that just ended with a bang.

With November's matchups set and the general election campaign beginning in earnest Wednesday, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that more Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction than did before the nomination contests got under way in February. Also, more now disapprove of the job Obama is doing. And more now want to see Republicans in control of Congress rather than the Democrats who now run the House and Senate...

"I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that they're out of office," said independent voter Robbin Payton of Newport News, Va., reflecting just how toxic the environment is for the party in power.

This is why we get such perverse pleasure out of watching the floundering and flopping of Gibbs and Pelosi and Reid and Obama: they're playing the comic role of Basil Fawlty, insisting against all objective evidence that everything is fine and that any problems that might exist are definitely someone else's fault. What made Basil such an enduring character was his obvious knowledge that everything was on the verge of total collapse and only his desperate machinations could keep his entire life from falling down around his ears -- and that's what makes today's Democrat leaders and Obama Administration officials just as funny as he was.


OldSouth said...

Just followed the link posted at Hannan's latest musings. Brilliant analogy, just brilliant!

It's been great fun watching ObamaBob attempt to explain away reality, in the manner of Baghdad Bob, who was proclaiming Iraqi victory even as the US Marines were parking their tanks outside the hotel where he was staging his press conference.

Good work, and keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Genius analogy.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! I fond you via your comment on the Daniel Hannan article at the Telegraph.

Great work! I'll be back. =)