While speaking at the University of Michigan this week, in the words of Jonah Goldberg, “President Obama was doing his favorite thing this week: talking to crowds of adoring young people who already agree with him while acting like he persuaded them about something.”. But what gets me about this is the following from his article. Apparently, while sharing a story about eating at a local deli, he informed his thralls, I mean audience, that after sharing his sandwich with his adviser and requesting it back, he “took the pickle”. This elicited uproarious laughter amongst the crowd. Now, the main point of the president’s speech was to pitch a minimum wage raise (as if anyone in the crowd didn’t already want that) and used the restaurant as a citation for why this would work (it should be noted, however, that the small reuben costs 14$, before sides or beverages.) But what I found the most interesting about this was not, in fact, in relation to the objective of making a pitch for the minimum wage, but rather to the crowd’s reaction itself.
The crowd, as Mr. Goldberg brilliantly put it, are a group of young people who agree with and would love the president to death (if that wasn’t treason), but react as being persuaded by such brilliant arguments as “I took the pickle”. What I want to get at is this: I do not doubt whatsoever that nearly every person in the crowd genuinely thought that the line “I took the pickle” is hilarious, on the contrary, I am sure most of them did. But this is simply my point: any other politician who has not reached the divinityesque celebrity status as our president has would have to utilize creativity and brainpower to create such feelings in a crowd, would have had to reach beyond the esoteric “I took the pickle”. Perhaps it is a code phrase to which we are not yet indoctrinated, I mean familiarized with. Maybe it is the code to gain access to the affordable section of healthcare.gov. We may never know.