A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
Why Did Bush Sit Next To Sasha Cohen At The Olympics? Just Ask "Where's the Beef"?
February 26, 2002
By BuzzFlash Reader Alan Balch
On the afternoon of Friday, February 8th, George W. Bush spoke at the National Cattlemen's Beef Associations annual meeting in Denver. "We want the people in China eating U.S. beef" the President stated to thunderous approval. He reminded them that he has done much for the beef industry and cattle ranchers, and that he plans to do more (see http://184.108.40.206/newsroom/ncba/2002/02_0208a.htm).
No doubt, Bush's appearance at this event netted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for the GOP. In each of the last three election cycles, the National Cattleman's Beef Association gave nearly a half a million dollars in political contributions, for a six-year total of nearly $1.3 million. Roughly 85% percent of these donations in each of the last three election cycles have gone to Republicans.
Later that same day, Bush traveled to Utah and participated in the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. After appearing in the national anthem ceremony, Bush showed up sitting in the stands amongst the US athletes. NBC showed him humbly perched next to a shocked and giggly young lady who handed Bush her cell phone so he could say hi to her mommy. The young girl was figure skater Sasha Cohen. A few nights later, NBC interviewed Sasha and played up the Presidential encounter including a quick interview with the mother. Sasha gushed about her fondness for the President. While endearing, NBC's somewhat over the top coverage of the entire event and Sasha's almost too glowing endorsement of the President prompted the eternal political cynic in me to do a little digging.
Of the 211 members of the US Olympic squad, guess which one has the unique distinction of being the official youth spokesperson for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association? A shiny new donkey for anyone who answered Sasha Cohen.
Sasha was elevated to the post just a few days after the events of 9-11. James Sease, Chairman of the SC Beef Board said at the time: "We are so fortunate to have Sasha on board.This is a great way to reach the consumers of tomorrow---and today" (see http://www.scda.state.sc.us/2001_PRS/September/Beef_Effort.html).
And the Beef Association is planning to put their new spokesperson to good use. On February 6th (just 2 days before Bush's appearance at their annual convention), the Beef Association announced plans for an April 2002 media blitz featuring Sasha. "To reach young girls with a positive message about beef," the Beef folks will run one-page, full-color ads featuring Sasha "in 11 high-profile youth publications beginning in April." The youth program Sasha is the spokesperson for targets what the Beef Association calls "tween girls...between ages 8 and 12...who will be moms in not too many years" and they just wants these youngsters to "understand the benefits of including beef in their diets." The Association gloats: "this ad campaign is projected to provide more than 13 million impressions to the targeted age group through magazines they read" (see http://220.127.116.11/newsroom/ncba/2002/02_0206g.htm).
How convenient for the Beef industry that their youth spokesperson was featured in a heart warming photo shoot with our Commander and Chief viewed by 70 million TV viewers just a few weeks before launching a major media blitz featuring that spokesperson. No doubt this ad campaign as well as their youth spokesperson's profile will get a huge boost thanks to Bush's Olympic shenanigans. I wonder how much that kind of publicity costs?
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