Glenn Reynolds: Why American Gov't is in Deep Schlitz


Glenn Instapundit Reynolds explains why the U.S. government is in such deep Schlitz with the people it supposedly serves:

The once-heady brew of American freedom has become watery and unsatisfying.

In fact, when I think of the federal government's brand now, I think of Schlitz beer. Schlitz was once a top national brew. But, in search of short-term gains, it began gradually reducing its quality in tiny increments to save money, substituting cheaper malt, fewer hops and "accelerated" brewing for its traditional approach.

Each incremental decline was imperceptible to consumers, but after a few years, people suddenly noticed that the beer was no good anymore. Sales collapsed, and a "Taste My Schlitz" campaign designed to lure beer drinkers back failed when the "improved" brew turned out not to be any better. A brand image that had been accumulated over decades was lost in a few years, and it has never recovered.

The federal government, alas, finds itself in much the same position. The political class sold its legitimacy off in drips and drabs. As "smart politics" has come over the past decades to mean not persuasion but the practice of legerdemain, the use of political deals, cover from a friendly press apparat and taking advantage of voters' rational ignorance, the governing classes have managed to achieve things that would surely have failed had the people known what was going on.

Read the whole thing here.

I agree and ask only: Has the government come up with an ad as absolutely, terrifyingly awful as this Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull commercial featuring Tommy James & The Shondells and the Average White Band? If yes, please send the links. If no, I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

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  1. I’ve never seen that Schlitz ad before.
    It will now be added to my list of bad videos you show your friends when there’s nothing else to talk about.

  2. They never compared to the Colt 45 commercials.

    Click along the bottom of Nick’s link for the “Brothers in Space” ad. Outstanding.

    1. Nice glassware. Good to see people drinking beer properly.

      1. Did they spike that guy’s previous drink with a bit of Xanax and LSD? He was definitely in a trippy, sepia sorta mood.

        1. There were a whole series of these ads, one in a bullfighting ring where the bull literally knocks the waiting man on his ass. I read that it was a blooper, but that they decided in the end to leave it in, since the man simply got up and brushed himself off, never leaving character.

  3. I had completely blocked the bull commercials from my memory. Now they all are rushing back (or at least the concept of them).

    1. I liked those commercials. But the best of that era were the old Miller Light commercials with all the old jocks.

      1. All we need is one pin, Rodney.

  4. Schmitt’s Gay.

    You two look like you need to get wet.

    Thank you!

    1. Heh. That was the Michael Jordan episode, right?

    2. I think it was the Patrick Swayze episode. If I remember correctly, the Swayze/Farley Chippendale skit aired immediately after the Schmitts commercial: kinda a 20-year high water mark for SNL.

      1. I think they used it on more than one episode, as they sometimes did with prefilmed bits.

        1. You’re right about the multiple airings. I just have specific memory association with the Shmitts commericial and the Swayze/Farley skit, which seems like a natural followup to a beer-ad-aimed-at-gays spoof.

          This is completely unrelated to beer or the article, but here’s a rarely seen SNL spoof ad (this one probably did air once and only once): The Mercury Mistress.

  5. As “smart politics” has come over the past decades to mean

    If by “past decades” you mean the past 400 decades, then yes.

  6. Schlitz has nothing on Black Label – more like Black Death. “Mabel, Black Label.” Awful…

    Oh, the gov’t? Yeah, whatever – it sucks, too.

    1. When my parents were considering naming my sister after her grandmother, Mabel, her response to the honor was “Don’t you dare saddle that child with that name”.

  7. WTF is “rational ignorance”?

    1. An example – I don’t know or care to learn a goddam thing about American Idol contestants.

      Anything other than complete ignorance about the subject is irrational.

  8. a “Taste My Schlitz” campaign designed to lure beer drinkers back failed when the “improved” brew turned out not to be any better.

    But- corporate advertising equals “mind control”. If a corporation tells you their beer tastes good, you HAVE TO BELIEVE THEM; resistance is futile.

  9. The Shlitz analogy kinda doesn’t work. There was prohibition. Then crap beer for the troops in WWII. Took people a while to really acquire a taste for good hoppy beer. And mostly people still prefer the watered down taste of say Corona Extra or Coors Light to say anything from Sierra Nevada makes.

  10. Ah, how like Hit & Run. There’s a serious argument being made here, and all we can do is point and laugh at a tangentially-related pop culture relic.

    1. Take off.

      1. Hoser.

    2. Beer is more important than politics.

      1. Beer is the mind-killer.

        1. Beer is the little-drunk that brings total obliteration.

          1. I will face my beer. I will permit it to pass over my lips and through me. And when it has pissed, I will turn the inner eye to see its path (spelling my name in the snow). Where the beer has gone there will be nothing. Only my buzz will remain.

            1. What’s funny is that the Harvard Lampoon eschewed the obvious Litany For/Against Beer in favor of a Litany Against Fun. Not sure why.

              1. Any obvious edits/corrections to my litany? That was fun to create but I figure it could be improved upon.

                1. It was perfect, robc.

              2. Not sure why.

                Because they were no talent assclowns?

                1. Now that’s uncalled for. I liked Doon and the earlier Bored with the Rings quite a bit.

            2. yellow snow was beer flavored.

    3. I’m pretty happy meeting a half-serious Hit & Run article at the midpoint. But I like to stay on the not serious half of the argument: the Schlitz/Government analogy doesn’t hold up to mid-level scrutiny. The block-quoted section is humorous in a single “hah” kind of way, and the embedded Schlitz commercial is an “11” on the unintentional comedy scale. Overall, it’s H&R gold.

      1. Reynold’s analogy doesn’t work at all, since the government isn’t like beer. Beer is something you buy and get value for, and you have a choice. People could choose not to buy Schlitz if it started to suck. You don’t get any choice with the government.

        Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA for the win, by the way.

        1. Agreed, Best fish head I ever tasted.

          1. I bet you really like Kanye.

        2. I would argue beer is the opposite of government. For me, even a crappy beer makes me happier than no beer at all. And as the quality of the beer goes up, so does my happiness. With government, it’s the other way around. The best government is merely tolerable, and it’s all downhill from there.

          Now that I think about it, I would compare the government to water (or possibly vodka). At its best, it’s clear and tasteless. But from there the only additions are impurities that make it worse.

          1. I would compare government to piss — the aftereffect of when beer is consumed.

  11. I remember when Schlitz paid big money for actor James Coburn to utter hust two words in a commercial, “Schiltz Light.”

    Great Ad, Lousy Beer. The lesson I learned is that style doesn’t always trump substance.

  12. I think I saw that Beer Wars movie on the Comedy Channel this weekend. It sucked.

    1. You practiced rational ignorance when you bothered to watch Beer Wars

      1. I didn’t watch the whole thing. Just caught a snippet of it.

        1. The a little bit pregnant defense:-)

  13. Wow, excellent points indeed dude. Well done.


    1. So where’s this Hit & Run spam filter I here about?

      1. Ugh, “hear” about.

  14. The pinball machine is Wizard (1975), one of Bally’s greatest!

    That, alone, makes the commercial worth watching.

  15. I am young enough not to have known that Schlitz was an actual brand of beer until I was in my late teens.

    I am old enough to know that the larger point of Reynolds’ article is really the entire crux of the matter right now. Obama’s popular vote amounts to 23% of the overall population and yet was considered a mandate. The Tea Partiers make some valid points but they are just going to fall in line with the conservatives when push comes to shove.

    What we need is an active “Do Not Vote” camapaign. What if they held an election and nobody showed up?

    1. Do you know why 23% of the population was able to select the president? Your course of action would only exacerbate the problem.

      1. So what is the best course of action, then? When my ballot is full of names I do not support, isn’t choosing the lesser of evils merely lending consent to politicians who will undoubtedly betray that consent? How about showing up and submitting a blank ballot – is that a better protest?

        If the game is rigged in such a way that participation amounts to throwing away your vote, isn’t not playing the strongest statement you can make?

      2. Oh Tulpa, your crypto-Republican agenda is hilarious. Should I have voted for McCain instead of doing the morally responsible thing and not voting? Should I have voted for Bob Barr, and pretended that my statistically insignificant vote means Jack shit, except Jack left town?

        Your self-deception is amusing.

        1. Since we don’t have a parliamentary system or ranked voting, voting for the lesser evil among the top two candidates makes perfect sense as a voting strategy. Yes, you have to go into the voting booth with a giant cartoon-like clothespin on your nose. And no, you won’t get your ideal candidate. But a little of something is better than all of nothing.

      3. You mean Bush or Obama would have been less fucked up if more people had voted for them? Or that we would be less fucked if their opponent had been selected instead? Not seein’ it.

    2. What we need is an active “Do Not Vote” camapaign.

      What we need is an active “Vote, but leave the ballot blank for any race where no one good is running.”

      When the blank ballots are greater than the cast ballots, that sends a message.

      1. “…that sends a message”

        To whom?

        And would they care?

        The winner will claim a mandate whether they are a Dem, Rep, Libertarian or green.

  16. when I think of the federal government’s brand now, I think of Schlitz beer. Schlitz was once a top national brew. But, in search of short-term gains, it began gradually reducing its quality in tiny increments to save money, substituting cheaper malt, fewer hops and “accelerated” brewing for its traditional approach.

    The incremental erosions of liberty have been portrayed as “improvements” to America’s brand; that’s the real tragedy, here.

  17. I RTFA threadjack:

    Insty’s best point:

    Even among the rulers, only 63 percent — triple the fraction of the general populace but still less than two-thirds of the political class — regard the federal government as legitimate by the standards of America’s founding document. The remainder, presumably, are comfortable being tyrants

    The Tree is lookin’ kinda parched, no?

  18. Obama’s New ‘Poverty’ Measurement

    This week, the Obama administration announced it will create a new poverty-measurement system that will eventually displace the current poverty measure. This new measure, which has little or nothing to do with actual poverty, will serve as the propaganda tool in Obama’s endless quest to “spread the wealth.”

    Under the new measure, a family will be judged “poor” if its income falls below a certain specified income threshold. Nothing new there, but, unlike the current poverty standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause: They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.

    The current poverty measure counts absolute purchasing power ? how much steak and potatoes you can buy. The new measure will count comparative purchasing power ? how much steak and potatoes you can buy relative to other people. As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion. In other words, Obama will employ a statistical trick to ensure that “the poor will always be with you,” no matter how much better off they get in absolute terms.

    The weird new poverty measure will produce very odd results. For example, if the real income of every single American were to magically triple over night, the new poverty measure would show there had been no drop in “poverty,” because the poverty income threshold would also triple. Under the Obama system, poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the “poor” are rising faster than the incomes of everyone else.


    1. Wow! From the article:

      Another paradox of the new poverty measure is that countries such as Bangladesh and Albania will have lower poverty rates than the United States, even though the actual living conditions in those countries are extremely bad. Haiti would probably have a very low poverty rate when measured by the Obama system because the earthquake reduced much of the population to a uniform penniless squalor.

      In honest English, the new system will measure income inequality, not poverty. Why not just call it an “inequality” index? Answer: because the American voter is unwilling to support massive welfare increases, soaring deficits, and tax increases to equalize incomes. However, if the goal of income leveling is camouflaged as a desperate struggle against poverty, hunger, and dire deprivation, then the political prospects improve. The new measure is a public-relations Trojan horse, smuggling in a “spread the wealth” agenda under the ruse of fighting real material privation ? a condition that is rare in our society.

      1. The gini index already exists to measure exactly that. Income leveling is socialism at its worst.

    2. As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion.

      Of course, it won’t work both ways – when the nation becomes poorer, due to a recession, say, I got $20 that says the poverty measure doesn’t tick down.

      1. Then they’ll switch back to the old measurement. That’s the beauty of it all.

  19. However, if the goal of income leveling is camouflaged as a desperate struggle against poverty, hunger, and dire deprivation, then the political prospects improve.

    NannyBot sez: EQUALIIIIIIIIZE!

  20. Let’s be frank. Being lied to into a war didn’t help the government’s case any.

    There was no yellow-cake. There were no mobile WMD labs. Saddam Hussein does not appear to have been behind the anthrax attacks.

    Almost six months after we invaded Iraq, some 7 out of 10 Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein was complicit in the attacks on September 11.

    “A poll reported in the Washington Post in September 2003 found that nearly 70 percent of respondents believed Saddam Hussein was probably personally involved in the attacks.[17]”…..ted_States

    People don’t remember what they believed and when, maybe there’s some kind of cognitive phenomena going on there, but they do remember who they shouldn’t have trusted–and that was the government.

    It was the government on Iraq. It was the government on Katrina.

    Add to the above, being put on the hook for the UAW and the losses of Wall Street investors, and there aren’t any tea leaves that need be read here, people…

    Sometimes things aren’t anywhere near as complicated as we make them out to be. The government has used crisis after crisis to trick people into letting them do things we’ve come to regret later…

    …and somebody out there’s wondering why so many of us don’t trust the government? Really?!

    1. There was “no yellowcake“?

  21. Feeling kind of hopeless here. Even the Schlitz commercial, which I had high hopes for, was far more bad than amusing, which is a real shame to this fan of Tommy James.

    Over the past few weeks, my thinking has been along the lines of “OK, our economy is in the toilet and it’s not going to get better. My standard of living is about to take an irrevocable dive and it was never all that great (relatively speaking, ha ha?) to begin with. The next time I fly, strangers will be able to see through my clothing or I’ll stay on the ground. And the majority of people around me don’t seem to realize what’s going on. Should I just aim for creating a protective head space in which to live my life, and give up on things like having goals, interacting with the world around me, and trying to affect the larger environment for the better?”

  22. For what it’s worth, the “new” Schlitz longnecks, which are brewed according to their 1960s recipe, are pretty damn tasty for a macro lager. I know, that’s not saying much, but if every bar that only serves Bud Light or Miller Lite would also carry Schlitz then I’d be a happier beer drinker.

    1. What are you doing in bars that only serve BMC Light?

      1. They’re called bowling alleys.

        1. Huh, I was able to get a Newcastle the last time I went bowling.

          1. I wish… My experience is that 90% of the bad beer I drink is the result of playing sports.

          2. Can’t bowl without a White Russian

      2. There are some beers I like better than others, but you’re all a bunch of sissies.

        1. Wow, I never thought commenting Schlitz would cause me to be branded a sissy. A Belgian dubbel served in a tulip glass? Sure. But Schlitz from a longneck?

          1. That’s supposed to be “complementing,” not “commenting.” Too much Schlitz already and it’s not even 2pm!

  23. The political class sold its legitimacy off in drips and drabs.

    Needless to say, the expression is “dribs and drabs,” not “drips and drabs.”

    1. You’re forgetting Clinton.

      1. I don’t think those are called “drips”. The usual word ends in “shot”.

  24. Okay, so we all know from Bewitched that advertising guys are spineless suckups, right? Who’d never say anything bad about any client, no matter how obnoxious, right?

    When Schlitz fired the Leo Burnett agency (creators of “When you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer”), Leo himself actually wrote a memo to the entire agency saying how happy he was to see the last of those a-holes, and basically apologizing to everyone who had to work on the account.

  25. What is it with Nick and his man-crush on the neo-con hack Glenn Reynolds?

  26. Even among the rulers, only 63 percent — triple the fraction of the general populace but still less than two-thirds of the political class — regard the federal government as legitimate by the standards of America’s founding document. The remainder, presumably, are comfortable being tyrants

    Well, not all of them. I work for one of the politicians who is actively trying to roll back the tyranny.

    He’s getting no traction in statist Hawaii, but he’s certainly trying.

  27. I guess what Glenn Reynolds means is “I wish Obama hadn’t been elected.” IMHO, any country whose vice president is not named Dick Cheney is not a bad country to live in.

  28. In the past 18 months, I have seen Glenn Beck do a lot to educate himself from a Hannity/Rush wannabe to a bona fide libertarian. Last Friday’s show featured a few questions from a Nolan chart questionaire and he told his viewers where to see the chart and score themselves.

    It’s time for H&R libertarians to quit hating on Beck for what he was two years ago.

  29. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

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