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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Recipe for Disaster

What’s the point of giving a candidate’s spouse a place on the campaign website for his or her favorite recipes? It’s a tradition that I just don’t understand or appreciate.
It seems fraught with peril. What if voters don’t enjoy your food? What if it makes them sick? What if an intern steals a couple recipes from the Food Network, adds them to your website verbatim, and calls them family favorites?
Turns out that last thing is exactly what just happened to John McCain:

This past Sunday, Lauren Handel, an eagle-eyed attorney from New York, was searching for a specific recipe from Giada DeLaurentis, a chef on the Food Network. Yet whenever she Googled the different ingredients in the recipe, the oddest thing happened: not only did the Food Network’s site come up, as expected, but so did John McCain’s campaign site.

At least 7 recipes that the campaign once said belonged Cindy McCain were taken from celebrity chefs (including 30 Minute Meal star Rachel Ray who — bless her heart — immediately invited the Republican candidate and his wife onto her show). The unpaid intern fingered with the plagiarism has apparently been “dealt with” by the McCain higher-ups.
This is obviously only a scandal at the height of silly season. (Let’s just see if FarfalleGate gets the same kind of media play as BitterGate!)
Still, it does allow me a chance to reiterate a point about the Internet — Authenticity matters more than anything else.
If you simply must share the recipe for the candidate’s favorite apple cobbler, for the love of Julia Child, make sure that it contains a list of ingredients that has been in your family since well before Mario Batali got on television.
For instance, way back in the fall of last year, John Edwards organized a little fundraiser for his birthday using his mother’s pecan pie. Joe Trippi and Jonathan Prince made a little video about it. That was cute.
But if even your interns won’t invest the time into doing this kind of thing the right way, then there is just no reason to include a culinary corner on your website. Because let’s face it, the fate of a restless nation does not turn on a passion fruit mousse.

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