I don’t mind Arby’s. It’ll do. The last time I ate there I thought, Hey, I’m not regretting this. Some red sauce, some white sauce, a bun that doesn’t taste like it was made three months ago in a vast industrial oven three states away: Might not be actual food, but it’s a fine simulacrum. Some days you’re at the mall, you’re hungry, and it’s a fast-food meat-wad or some grey chicken from the Peking Slop House or whatever it’s called. Yes, I could see having Arby’s again.
At least until they demonstrated to the Internet a heretofore unknown fact: Only liberals eat. On Twitter, home of the unforced error, Arby’s spokestweeter said the brand would yank ads from Rush Limbaugh’s show. Probably thought his fans just ate foie gras washed down with a flagon of orphan’s tears, so it wasn’t a big deal — but on the Internet a swarm of nettles alights on anything controversial, and flenses it to the bone. Peeve the customers who were previously unaware that shaved beef has a specific political agenda and they’ll hit Twitter to say your signature condiment “Horsey Sauce” sounds like something they’d extract from Man o’ War and sell to a stud farm, and the meat itself tastes like some form of liquefied abattoir scrapings held together with binding agents — although, hey, with some Horsey Sauce, it’s not completely inedible.
Next up: Arby’s — which was never a national advertiser on Rush’s show in the first place — shoots itself in the other hoof by blocking the complainers on Twitter. In terms of the greater national debate, it was like a war of two anthills observed from the top of a mountain, but it was a reminder: If your most banal economic decision isn’t political yet, it will be soon. Nothing’s safe.
Perhaps you already have a list of businesses you’ll avoid. Progressive Insurance’s chairman gives millions to MoveOn.org and other liberal causes; apparently “Pinko Life and Casualty” was already taken. Oh, just kidding. But you’re glad the Geico gecko hasn’t spoiled his charm by coming out publicly for nationalized health care. The family behind Little Caesars Pizza announced a million-dollar fundraiser for the president, so they’re off the list. Bad luck if the only other place in town is Little Claudius Pulcher’s Pizza or Catiline’s Deep Dish, because they’re big progressives from way back.
This is new. In the past, it would have been unthinkable for a company that sold its products to everyone to pick sides. It’s election time, Sal Hepatica — whose side are you on? Why, we’re on the side of America, and every hardworking American who wants gentle, overnight relief without acid hangover! Yeah, but since hardworking Americans have been suffering wage constipation for years, what’s yer stance on Davis-Bacon? Er — Sal Hepatica is a staunch supporter of the Regularity Ticket! We believe every red-blooded citizen has the right to effective, natural action for all without harsh purgatives! Oh, so it’s just citizens who deserve digestive health? So you’re racist, too?