The Corner

In Defense of Door-to-Door Salesmen

From a reader, re my column :

Jonah,   Nice shot at John Edwards, and I couldn’t agree more. I listened carefully about how he grew up, worked hard, played sports, earned his way through college, got a law degree, became successful, etc…. Sounds like a story for the ages about if you pay your dues, stay in school, and work hard you can become successful. Sounds like my story, yet I’m a conservative. Hmmmm…..   However, I must take great exception to your comparison that he’s the same as a toothy door-to-door salesman. This insults anyone and everyone who’s ever earned a living in sales, who’s had to knock on doors (even if they have IBM, Best Buy, AMEX, and Northwest Airlines above the doors).   You would ingratiate yourself hugely with the Rush Limbaugh audience if you would merely have NRO issue a retraction to this part of the story; taking back that salesman analogy.   That’s not giving us toothy salesmen enough credit for our work and contributions to our families and communities.   How about instead comparing him to a toothy, dishonest, sub-prime loan shark who promises you a nice loan package…then takes your house when you miss two payments….then asks the Democrats in Congress to provide economic relief by taxing the rich.   Make the retraction; become a hero to us sales guys.   Eric from Minnesota

Me: Here’s a little back story. The original word I used was “grifter” but my editor at the LA Times suggested that grifter is a slanderous word and so at the last minute we threw in door-to-door salesman. I agree with the reader, it was probably not the best word, though I think most readers know what I’m getting at — and it’s not an indictment of all salesmen. As point of fact, I actually have enormous respect for salesmen. It’s a terribly hard business, one that I would be terrible at. My dad worked in sales of a sort and managed salesmen for years and he would always tell me how much he respected good salesmen and he filled my head with all sorts of life-wisdom about sales that, at least for now, has remained of the little practical use for me.

Anyway, my apologies if I gave offense, such was not my intent. 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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