The Republicans Continue to Astonish
The good-old days
I am still dazzled by the republican mailing efforts in the 1980s. At the time, four national organizations were blitzing the country: Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and the republican presidential committees (e.g., Reagan, Bush, Dole, etc.). Plus the landscape was mucked up by a series of conservative political action committees, whose business was raising money in candidates’ names and keeping the money to make more mailings to raise money to make mailings to raise money, and so on ad infinitum.
The official republican stuff was wildly imaginative in terms of gorgeous paper stock; personalized certificates; plastic membership cards; autographs; gold embossing; photographs; and red-white-and-blue tchotchkes. The most outrageous was the Inner Circle, a private, hand-calligraphed formal invitation with a gold seal mailed to high rollers. It contained an invitation to come to Washington for a weekend of briefings, private dinners at the homes of senators and cabinet members, and a dinner with the president. The lift piece was an official Secret Service questionnaire to be filled in for clearance at presidential and vice presidential affairs. Ya gotta love this shameless sale of access to the powerful.
But what about today?
Fast forward to 2004. Are the republicans up to their old tricks? Absolutely not.
Grassroots republican mail efforts to bring in cash have gone the way of the steam engine. Rather than relying on flashy, inventive direct mail, Bush 43 is replicating a technique used with great success by his father, Bush 41, who would waltz into a city, pose for photos with attendees at a $1,000-a-plate dinner, make a speech and then skedaddle. The price of dinner has gone up to $2,000 a plate, and Bush 43 has crisscrossed the country dropping in on these affairs like a pigeon in St. Mark’s Square, amassing a war chest in excess of $150 million.