Peggy Noonan examines the mini-furor over the manufacturing of the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms in ... China. It was, she believes, a missed opportunity to create a sensational political ad:
someone might have thought: "Hey, we could do a nice commercial to run during the games, with American women and men making the uniforms, looking up from their sewing machines as the camera goes by and saying, 'Good luck America.' The last shot is of a seamstress at the end of the day on a floor in the New York Garment District. As she goes to turn off the lights, she walks by a mannequin wearing the full uniform, gives the shoulder a little pat and says, 'Good luck, kid.'" As if we're all in this together, and what we're all in is actually bigger than the games.
Yes, it would have made a nice commercial. But instead of playing on people's resentments, why not a commercial that illustrates why free trade is desirable? Or why wages in the United States – including for garment workers – are high and sticky? Maybe even something that goes to the problem of minimum wage laws. After all, even if there were people in the United States willing to work for what the Chinese are paid, and a firm willing to hire them and pay those wages, the law would not permit it.
In the present crisis, which shows signs of real staying power, our politics could prosper from less sentimental messaging and more hard-nosed communication. Which means we shall probably experience less of the later and much more of the former.