Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for July 2017


  • Bimbo
  • July 7, 2017
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image b

This month we have BIMBOs from a trucking association, Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein, an executive for a Korean manufacturing company, Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel, and former Irving (Texas) Mayor Herb Gears. Uber and Lyft also make the cut. More examples from HBO host Bill Maher and students at Washington’s Evergreen State College. Several examples of how a name determines what we think (Shakespeare was wrong), and of the danger of saying one thing externally and another internally. And we close with a charming note from the magnificent Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I don’t think I’m an a—hole,” said now-departed Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a long cover story in Fortune. (Kalanick dug his own grave. First he mentioned, the “meme that founder-CEOs have to be a—holes to be successful,” then stating “I think there’s a question out there, is he an a—hole? You’ve spent time with me and one of the big questions you’re going to get is ‘Is he an a—hole?’ …Or am I an a—hole? I’d love to know.” Answer: yes. With all the people who could have given him good advice, he should have understood that you build a great company by engaging people, not antagonizing them.)

Fortune, “Riding Shotgun With Uber CEO Travis Kalanick,” May 18, 2017  

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I am not stonewalling,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Congressional hearing. (This is a classic BIMBO. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., baited Sessions, saying “The American people have had it with stonewalling.” While Sessions declined to answer specific questions about on-going investigations, he took the bait and repeated the word back. He followed up with, “I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice.” This situation was tailor-made for our trademarked technique of acknowledging the question. Sessions could have responded to the charge of stonewalling with “On the contrary,” and then picked up his point that DOJ does not comment on ongoing investigations. Unfortunately, he fell into the trap of denying the negative word—note that the word Sen. Wyden introduced became the headline.)

The Washington Post, “Sessions to Wyden in testy exchange: ‘I am not stonewalling,’” June 13, 2017

“We are in Texas, but we’re not rednecks,” said Todd DeGidio about his Ox Ranch where people can drive M4 Sherman tanks and fire live ammunition, the only such site in the country. (DeGidio, a former Green Beret, retired Houston Police pilot and founder of Drivetanks.com, said the idea is to “have fun.” As a participant in the 1989 Joint Chiefs Orientation trip where we got to drive Bradley Fighting vehicles, I have to agree he’s right. If only his quote had stopped there.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Tourists are flocking to ranch to ride a Leopard,” June 12, 2017

“We’re not trying to wash our hands of this issue,” said John Taylor for LG Electronics. (The issue was a front page article on short-term drivers who are a forgotten and allegedly exploited link in today’s global supply chain. The article tracked what sounds like egregious exploitation techniques, such as renting trucks to drivers but repossessing the truck and keeping all its value if a driver falls behind in payments. Industry representatives were astonishingly honest: Weston LeBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, said, “I’m not going to say there were no violations out there,” but he insisted they were “unintentional.” Ouch. Hey guys, time to get intentional and address the issues raised in the media.)

USA Today, “Rigged,” June 16, 2017

“There is no secret plan,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about rumors that he might fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller or that President Trump might order him to do so. (This is another example where it’s best to stick to positive messages and resist the temptation to express them in the negative. Rosenstein said, “I am not going to follow any order unless it’s a lawful order,” which he could have expressed, “I will follow lawful orders.” His important comment, “I appointed him, I stand by that decision and I will defend the integrity of that investigation,” should have been the headline.)

USA Today, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says there’s no cause to fire Mueller,” June 13, 2017

“We’re not this evil, Korean company in the shadows battling against the U.S. company,” said Jason Kuhn, vice president of Nautilus Hyosung America, an ATM manufacturer. (Great example of using the media as part of a business dispute. Nautilus Hyosung and Diebold Nixdorf are battling each other through the International Trade Commission over a patent dispute. Diebold had enlisted local, North Carolina congressmen to write to the ITC and release the letters to the media. Their strategy is to characterize Nautilus as foreign, Asian and sinister—and, Nautilus fell right into their trap. Of course, Nautilus should have promoted its own job creation and the value of competition. Plus, although the company is based in Korea, they have been in the U.S. since 1998 and operate a plant in Irving, Texas. As a DFW company, there would have been plenty of people to step forward to defend them. Note the quote became the headline.)

Greensboro News & Record, “‘We’re not evil,’ ATM maker asserts,” June 9, 2017

“I do not support a livable wage,” said Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel in a debate against Democrat Jon Ossoff. (This was the marquee special election this summer for the seat that had been held by now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Handel pulled it off – no thanks to her communications. Ossoff set up the exchange saying, “The minimum wage should be a living wage,” which is a reasonable sounding name created by progressives. Handel rightly noted that this was a “fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative,” but she then parroted their language. She did say she supported a competitive economy, lower taxes, less regulation and that small businesses would be hurt by higher mandates but the BIMBO became the headline.)

East Cobb Patch, “‘I Do Not Support A Livable Wage,’ Handel Says In Georgia’s 6th District Debate,” June 8, 2017

“We are not dying,” said J. Herbert Nelson II, clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA. (I’m one of the frozen chosen, and Nelson needs to read up on communication techniques. He did claim, “We are reforming,” but it’s crowded out by the “dying” comment. He went on to say, “despite cries proclaiming the death of the Presbyterian Church, we remain a viable interfaith and ecumenical partner in any local communities while proclaiming a prophetic witness throughout the world.” Too defensive, and also, not true. The article pointed out that the denomination has lost a third of its active membership since 2005. Why? A stress on social issues rather than local, person-to-person mission work. Once again, the BIMBO comment became the headline.)

Juicy Ecumenism, “As Losses Mount, Presbyterian Official Declares: ‘We are not dying, we are Reforming,’” May 24 2017

“I’m not ashamed one bit of that political mailing,” said former Irving (Texas) Mayor Herbert Gears. His literature depicted one of his opponents as a drug addict, a thief and someone who had been evicted from a foreclosed house. None of those charges was true. (I cannot think of what the former mayor should have said. When caught putting out false allegations, the current political thinking seems to welcome being outed.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Former mayor of Irving admits he’s behind a terrible anonymous mailer,” June 22, 2017

“This is not a joke,” said Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty Executive Vice President Pete Ryan about a house featured on HGTV’s wildly-popular show “Fixer Upper” selling for $950,000. Big deal? It’s a one bedroom, one bath house in Waco, Texas. (Adding insults, he continued, “This is not just a house that’s 1,000 square feet that’s stuck down in the middle of nowhere.” Oh my! He should have said, “This is a serious price,” and “It’s in a prime, one-of-a-kind location.” Please, someone, tell them to call us.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Yes, a 1-bedroom house in Waco is selling for $950,000, and it’s all about ‘Fixer Upper,’” June 22, 2017      

“This isn’t a time to gloat,” wrote the founders of Lyft in a company-wide email. (The company was reacting to Uber’s problems, including the CEO’s resignation. The sentiment is understandable but they should have written, “This is a time to focus on our business and continue to build relationships with our customers.” Note the comment became the headline.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Lyft’s Goal: Gain From Uber’s Stumbles Without Gloating,” June 22, 2017

WRONG THING TO SAY

“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n----,” said HBO host Bill Maher in a discussion with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska (Sasse was on the show to plug his new book, “The Vanishing Adult,” and Maher offered how adults in California still dress up for Halloween. Sasse said that didn’t happen in Nebraska and invited Maher to Nebraska saying, “You’re welcome [to come]. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.” Maher replied with the above comment, generating outcry across the political spectrum. One alt-right commentator and activist, Jack Posobiec, criticized the senator for allegedly endorsing the use of the n-word. However, Sasse was clearly not making a reference to slavery. Maher did apologize the next day – decently so, in our opinion. But what should the senator have done? He probably was so shocked that he didn’t know how to react. When someone uses a wildly inappropriate word or comment, what’s the right thing to do? We don’t want to appear prudish or as if we are lecturing, but we also don’t want to appear to agree. The appropriate thing is to shake your head ruefully and say, “I can’t approve the use of that word/comment, and I’ll bet you don’t really mean it anyway,” then move on. Senator Sasse did later address the incident via Twitter, “I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines. But free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word. Me cringing last night wasn’t good enough. The history of the n-word is an attack on universal human dignity. It’s therefore an attack on the American Creed. Don’t use it.”)

The New York Times, “Bill Maher Apologizes for Use of Racial Slur on ‘Real Time,’” June 3, 2017

“What it shows is, it’s much more likely there’ll be more talking,” said Uber board member and billionaire David Bonderman during an employee meeting about claims of harassment and discrimination toward women at the company. Fellow board member Arianna Huffington was pitching the benefits of adding another woman to the board. His response came after her comment, “There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board.” (Bonderman was forced to resign and apologize. This falls into the genre of stupid comments. The whole meeting was to publically address complaints from women at the company. Bonderman should have commented that he looked forward to seeing Huffington’s recommendations.)

The Washington Post, “David Bonderman resigns from Uber board after making joke about women at company event on sexual harassment,” June 13, 2017

Minority students at Evergreen State College in Washington protested and yelled profanities about Professor Bret Weinstein who questioned the school’s request to have white people leave campus to illustrate diversity. In the past, many African-American students left campus for A Day of Absence to hold discussion groups and rallies. We can’t reprint the students’ language because there are so many swear words. Another lesson from this is that multiple videos trickled out illustrating the students’ comments and showing the school’s president caving to students’ demands to be let out of homework – so they can continue rampaging. (This incident is one of many documented over the past year. The administrator or president who civilly but emphatically says, “Enough, you’re here to study. Expression is welcome but profanities and intimidation are not tolerated,” will be a hero.)

CNN, “Classes at Washington college cancelled again amid threats,” June 5, 2017

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Remember the “pink slime” case? That was what ABC called what the beef industry labels “lean finely textured beef,” the results of new technology to extract morsels of beef from beef trimmings that would have previously been wasted. ABC ran a story on the product, claiming it was “sprayed with ammonia,” a wild overstatement. They just reached a settlement. The real issue here for us is that ABC didn’t reveal that the “pink slime” nomenclature came from a food activist hoping to put the company out of business. It did cause cancellation of orders and the layoff of 700 workers. ABC may well prevail but it’s an illustration of how the media can produce a story with a very damaging, highly-polarized point of view.

The Wall Street Journal, “‘Pink Slime’ Food-Libel Defamation Trial Set to Begin,” June 4, 2017

Illustrating the importance of a name, Britain tried to reform entitlements by providing greater subsidies for the elderly, but required that wealthier beneficiaries apply some of the value of their homes to their cost of care. You’d think this would be a no-brainer for the Left but they promptly dubbed this a “dementia tax” and it was doomed. (Similarly, the so-called “bathroom bills” in a number of state legislatures should be viewed as an issue for young teenagers and locker rooms. Naming them bathroom bills lost public support because people had a mental picture of the rows of stalls in public bathrooms.)

The Wall Street Journal, “How Theresa May Led the Tories Astray,” June 6, 2017

DANGER OF SAYING ONE THING IN ONE PLACE AND ANOTHER ELSEWHERE

Mylan makes EpiPens, the must-have treatment for life threatening allergic reactions, and the company has been criticized for raising the price from a few dollars to over six hundred. Stories trickled out about the company’s executives using the f-word and similar gestures to respond to internal warnings that the huge price increases could bring regulators’ ire and negative public opinion. This reaction is totally at odds with language on the company’s website, “We put people and patients first, trusting that profits will follow.” If/when Congress removes the prohibition for the federal government to negotiate drug prices, EpiPen will be Exhibit A justifying congressional action.

The New York Times, “Outcry Over EpiPen Prices Hasn’t Made Them Lower,” June 4, 2017

Investor and Sears Chairman Edward Lampert maintained that the venerable retailer can stay in business and prosper and that it is moving forward with its strategic plan, but in a March filing with the SEC the company said there was “substantial doubt” about whether it can survive.

The Washington Post, “The Big Missteps That Brought An American Retailer icon To The Edge Of Collapse,” June 5, 2017

Is the opposite of discombobulated–as Elvis would say, “I’m all shook up”–recombobulated? The TSA seems to think so. We caught wind of this through a recent tweet, but apparently this sign has been in the Mitchell airport for some time. They have posted signs for “recombobulation area” instead of the redressing area. We guess they don’t like to be reminded that they’re stripping people down. 

OnMilwaukee, “Mitchell airport boasts world’s only 'recombobulation area' signs," May 21, 2017

NICE EXAMPLE

Recently, we were at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu for a wonderful experience. Besides the service, accommodations and great stories, Halekulani has a very nice tradition of enclosing notes of nice sentiment with a meal, or on paper just to say hello. I brought one home to put on my desk: “‘We do not remember days, we remember moments,’ Cesare Pavese, May your Halekulani moments bring you back to our house befitting heaven.” 



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