If Bill Clinton is regarded as one of the most astute of the Democrats — he survived impeachment and a credible accusation of rape — Chairman Eric Bauman of the California Democratic Party is a pol with a lot to learn.
When Mr. Bauman learned that a certain Southern California hamburger chain contributes to Republicans as well as Democrats he tried to organize a boycott of In-N-Out burgers. This was not wise. In-N-Out is a California institution beloved by partisans of all stripes, like the redwood forests, the Golden Gate Bridge and a day at the beach.
Republicans are very unpopular in California, and indeed the day may come when they were not even allowed to vote, like blacks in the Mississippi of old, so when the Democratic chairman learned that In-N-Out had contributed $30,000 to the state Republican party as well as to Democrats he reacted as if he had found a spider in his burger and a bug in his animal fries, which are French fries slathered with grilled onions and “special sauce.”
But no sooner had Mr. Bauman ordered the boycott than fellow Democrats from Kettleman City to San Diego forced a retreat. Republicans just watched with glee, following the cardinal rule of politics that “when your opponent is destroying himself, get out of his way.” John Cox, the Republican candidate for governor, posted a photograph of himself in front of an In-N-Out with a tweet, “there’s nothing more Californian than In-N-Out burger.” Indeed, one Republican state senator, on hearing of the Democratic boycott, sent out an order for 25 burgers and 25 bags of fries for lunch for his staff.
An In-N-Out burger, as any authentic Californian could have told the Democratic chairman, is not just any burger. It’s something high and almost holy, like hickory-smoked barbecue on a bun in Memphis. In-N-Out raises its own beef and has resisted pleas to go national because it doesn’t want to get too far away from the ranch.
“The stomach rules the mind,” Jaime Regalado, a professor of political science at California State University, told the Los Angeles Times. “A good burger is hard to dismiss, politically.” The Democrats learned that it’s dumb to try.
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