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Bush v. Grocery Scanner

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During 1992 Presidential Election campaign, challenger Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas attacked the incumbent president George H. W. Bush as not doing enough to assist the working middle-class and being “out of touch” with the common man. A gaffe–overhyped by media–played right into Clinton’s hands on February 5th, when the president visited a national grocer’s convention in Orlando, Florida.

There Bush expressed amazement at new grocery store technology, first reported by Andrew Rosenthal in the New York Times. (Rosenthal wasn’t even there at the convention. He based his article on a two-paragraph report filed by the lone pool newspaperman, Gregg McDonald of the Houston Chronicle, who wrote that Bush had a “look of wonder” on his face.) Though it is still disputed what Bush expressed amazement about, it was widely reported at the time that Bush’s amazement was over the checkout scanner-technology widely used by grocery stores since 1980, the very year Bush, a career bureaucrat, moved into the vice-presidential mansion.

Failing to be familiar with this technology made Bush appear to be an elitist who didn’t even have to go to the grocery store, and thus someone who was unable to feel the financial pinch facing ordinary Americans. It sank his re-election campaign. However, it was also argued that Bush was impressed by new scanner technology that could weigh groceries and read damaged bar codes. The Times refused to retract.

Above photo by Barry Thumma/Associated Press

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

January 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

9 Responses

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  1. […] Then came her attack ad on her opponent. In it, she misspelt Massachusetts. Consider this her scanner moment. […]

  2. good topic. i like the post

    Roxy Murrock

    January 30, 2010 at 4:49 am

  3. […] of reminds me of […]

  4. It looks like an old grocery scanner… Now in europe there is auto-grocery scanner without employe. This is the customer who is scanning


    May 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm

  5. […] include: Gov. Dewey’s maniacal grin with people dressed as cavemen, Dukakis in tank, Bush v. Scanner, Kerry at NASA, Palin at Turkey […]

  6. […] doesn’t pay to lose track of the little people and their […]

  7. […] *Part of the hilarity of Dan’s post is that he thinks that the answer to his question — Has class warfare rhetoric ever won an (American) election? — is no. Is Dan right? As we are forced to say from time to time here: Sadly, No! […]

  8. Do u really think that the VP and future president would be allowed to go to the supermarket? So of course he was unaware of the technology. Common sense please!

    Amy Hutto

    May 24, 2014 at 8:44 pm

  9. […] what the term “going viral” means. It’s a well-worn campaign trope that dates back at least to George H.W. Bush‘s “amazement” at a barcode scanner, and as Redstate notes, includes Barack Obama‘s 2008 presidential campaign mocking Sen. John […]

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