Marmite: Love it or Hate it

Though most Pundificator stories receive a few comments, the majority of feedback comes in texts, emails and personal conversations. Since I know most of the readers personally, I tend to answer them, and this often leads to engaging discussions. Sometimes these interactions even suggest ideas for stories, as did this one from a friend in England.

“It’s not healthy for your country to be mired in inter-party battles which, at the present rate, will see every President threatened with impeachment in every four-year cycle.”

“The atmosphere here [UK] was febrile, not so much inter-party as Leave-Remain, as you know. Video recordings and news coverage of that time look terrible, and yet six weeks on we’re back to being calm, and focused on wealth creation, despite having a leader not unlike your own, certainly he’s Marmite. What event can USA have to bring peace to Capitol Hill, which after all is supposed to be there to serve the people, not just to annoy them?”

The phrase “certainly he’s Marmite” sent me back to the author with a “please explain” request. I know what Marmite is but, until undertaking further “academic” research on Wikipedia, I did not know it’s “Love it or Hate it” slogan.

For the record, as to Marmite, I am firmly in the “Hate it” camp and, now that I know the name of its inventor (Justis von Liebig), I think I will hate him too.

Here is a quote from the Wikipedia Marmite entry: “Marmite began a ‘Love it or Hate it’ campaign during October 1996, and this resulted in the phrase ‘Marmite effect’ or ‘Marmite reaction’ for anything which provoked controversy.” [Note to yesterday’s birthday boy reader: the quote includes a clear violation of your mother’s famed “which/that” rule, but it is a quote. Happy birthday.]

The Wikipedia history of Marmite is actually kind of interesting though it has the mark of the corporate publicist about it. I had no idea where Marmite came from (byproduct of beer brewing), though the article did not change my view as to where it’s going and that is anywhere except in my mouth.

From a publicist’s perspective, my hating Marmite is not an entirely bad thing. At no cost at all, the makers of this loathsome product have gotten me to talk about their wretched offering. Who knows, maybe a reader or two will amble over to wherever one buys the stuff to sample a jar for himself?

Is the same true of politics and it’s neglected stepchild governance?

The other day, in a story called Who’s the Audience, I wrote this line, “In the first 180 years of this country’s existence, we had one impeachment. In the last 60 years, we have had three. Triple the number in a third the time.”

If the first 75% of our history included one and the last 25% included three, what would a trendline look like for the future? True, there are too few data points to be reliable, and extrapolation is a fool’s errand, but the graph would look pretty vertical.

Will every President who faces a House of Representatives controlled by the other party be impeached? One casualty will surely be that people will cease to think impeachment has any meaning whatever.

According to a highly regarded and widely known political forecaster who spoke to me and 249 other people at lunch today (Chatham House Rules preclude more information), it is widely known that House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, wanted no part of an impeachment.

Her party divides in two groups. About 60% want to hit the reset button and return to the pre-Trump era by nominating any moderate candidate who can beat the President. About 40% want fundamental change because they are far to the left of traditional Democratic politics and want to nominate a purist who shares their views. The pressure for impeachment came from the latter group.

Speaker Pelosi might have been right because, according to the Washington Post, (Trump begins reelection year more competitive against Democrats than he was three months ago, Post-ABC poll finds), “The improvement in his [President Trump’s] job approval rating in this poll — to 44 percent, an increase of six percentage points since fall — coincides with the Senate impeachment trial, which has further polarized the country. Whether it represents a lasting shift in Trump’s favor has obvious political implications, given the stakes in the election year.”

The next decision in the impeachment trial is whether or not to call witnesses. The Democrats want them because witnesses are likely to embarrass the President, but if continuing the trial into the Spring keeps moving the President’s approval ratings up, maybe Republicans should want witnesses too? This was Speaker Pelosi’s fear.

Congressional job approval ratings are (most recently) 26% approve 58% disapprove, which is actually pretty good by recent Congressional standards although horrible by pretty much any other standards. Perhaps it is easier not to care that more than twice as many people hate you than love you if political fund raising continues on its present torrid pace.

Even cartoonists have found ways to mock current Congressional behavior though mockery has no known impact on what they do.

When might the “Love it or Hate it” strategy begin to backfire? Probably when the money dries up.

Back to my friend’s ending question, “what event can USA have to bring peace to Capitol Hill, which after all is supposed to be there to serve the people, not just to annoy them?”

Barring a major external event that would require bipartisanship, it is probably up to us. We have to show that “Love it or Hate it” has run its course and no longer works.

8 Responses to “Marmite: Love it or Hate it”

Carter lord, January 28, 2020 at 6:23 pm said:

It’s a good question and very difficult. Some people just seem to love to argue and label people and call names. They just love it. It’s probably human nature. In my own family we have decided to disengage and just get out of it. We pray more. We meditate more. We laugh and do other things and just pay no attention to any of it because it’s all bullshit anyway

How this sweeps the whole country I’m not sure but I think if we just Take care of our own house and be relaxed in our own lives and just try to live for the moment then perhaps it will have a ripple effect and this arguing will be seen for what it is – A waste of time and a very low level consciousness affair

Life is too short to waste.

We areAll complicated beings and
the minute you point a finger at someone else you got three fingers pointing back at yourself

plus you’ve belittled everybody by trying to put people in a box we’re all too big for that it’s stupid

Hopefully we will all quit paying attention to what other people say and be secure in our own lives. The answer to this is to pray it away in my opinion


Haven Pell, January 28, 2020 at 6:34 pm said:

Thank you Carter, there are aspects of your solution that will work for everyone and aspects that might only work for some. Everyone has to choose for themselves.


Dulany Howland, January 28, 2020 at 10:44 pm said:

So as some of you may know I spent c 11 years in England after graduating in 1967 and I have quite a few memories of my time there. This discourse reminds me of a fascinating exchange that too place over approximately a year in the letter section of the London Times. It was about Marmalade!! Every day there was a letter or two about either the origins of this spread, it’s make up, use for, when to use, taste, spelling (especially spelling)
and so on. It was More than funny and got everyone’s attention, gaining a following which led to even more letters and original input. Am sure there was an editor at
the Times who, when things got a bit dull, would interject a letter of his own under a pseudo name. Can’t remember how it finally ended but the skinny commentary on Marmite could never hold a torch to it!


Haven Pell, January 29, 2020 at 5:16 am said:

However one spells it, marmalade deserves an easy win over Marmite.


Tim Warburton, January 29, 2020 at 4:07 am said:

Couldn’t understand “Marmite” eaters then, and can’t now. Vile stuff to be sure. Anywhere but near my mouth is about as accurate a phrase as I can imagine. As for the political theatre, this remarkably is actually quite different than Marmite in that it really is our country and our government and a reflection of our body politic as a whole. The fact that figures can sufficiently polarize enough of the country to rouse them to action is indeed significant. Significant of what remains the question. Since I am in your camp on the TV ad revenue as well as the political operative class fundraising needs, that leaves only the donor classes (ad buyers) as the gullible buyers of the dreaded Marmite. But let’s not forget we are only talking about what we are putting on our toast. Please pass the honey!.


Haven Pell, January 29, 2020 at 5:22 am said:

Perhaps this leads to an awkward question?

Would I eat Marmite for breakfast every day in exchange for an end to today’s polarization?

Reluctantly, yes but yes nonetheless.

I’d then suggest a statue in my honor, but it would surely be removed for some offense I committed but did not know about at the time.


Richard Seymour Mead, January 29, 2020 at 6:05 am said:

Marmite has a unique flavour much enjoyed by many on this side of the pond.
Many politicians currently leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth wherever they are to be found.


Haven Pell, January 29, 2020 at 10:53 am said:

As noted in an earlier reply to a comment, I would reluctantly gulp down a daily dollop of marmite in trade for better political behavior.


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