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The brain works in mysterious ways.  This report from Rome

The Pope is addressed as 'Your Holiness'. Roman Catholics refer to him as 'The Holy Father'. But somewhere in the tumble dryer that is the part of the US President's brain  visit to Rome had been preceded by the biggest security opeset aside for words, the two concepts got tangled and he told Associated Press: 'I think His Holy Father will be pleased to know that much of our foreign policy is based on the admonition to whom much is given, much is required.'

which included this gem--

His visit to Rome had been preceded by the biggest security operation this bodyguard's nightmare of a city had ever seen. The Tiber was dragged. The sewers were searched. Squares were cleared and roofs occupied. Yesterday the presidential cavalcade hurtled along its route preceded by a swarm of more than a dozen motorcycles, scooters and even motorised three-wheelers carrying tough-looking armed police riding pillion.

But when it got to Largo Poli, near the Trevi fountain, Bush's car ground to a halt. It remained perilously immobile for a minute and half. The President and Laura Bush were hustled into another car. That was denied by a White House official, who said the reasons for the breakdown were 'unclear'. Just as unclear was how the wide presidential limo could get through the gates of the US embassy. It couldn't. The presidential couple had to walk in.

the brain was led to this one:

by Kathleen A. Ervin

A Car Is Born
On September 4, 1957 the Edsel made its debut in showrooms across the country. The launch came on the heels of an extensive, expensive and exceptionally successful marketing campaign that had everybody talking about this mysterious new automobile. Months earlier ads began running that simply pictured the hood ornament, underscored with "The Edsel is Coming." Another ad depicted a covered car carrier with the same tag line. Meanwhile, the company went to great lengths to keep the car’s features and appearance a secret. Dealers were required to store the vehicles undercover, and could be fined or lose their franchise if they showed the cars before the release date. With all the hype it’s no surprise that consumers were eager to see what the fuss was about.

When September 4th rolled around consumers flocked to the dealerships in record numbers. For a day or so Edsel executives were thrilled—until they realized that people weren’t buying, they were only coming to look. "The company expected to sell a daily minimum of 400 Edsels through 1,200 dealers," says Gayle Warnock, director of public relations for the Edsel launch and author of The Edsel Affair. "That was the pencil pushers’ requirement for a successful launch. We never made it," he laments.

But, people were smarter back then.......

"The public thought there was something radically new coming out," reminds Bob Ellsworth, owner and operator of "But it was really just another 1958 [model] car. It had more gizmos and gadgets on it but it wasn’t anything that lived up to the hype."

Corporations obviously weren't.....

EDSEL: Every Day Something Else Leaks
When Ford launched the Edsel it made a fateful and costly decision to create a brand-new division. "Edsel was its own division, with its own everything," says Ellsworth. "One of my pet peeves is that people are fond of calling it the ‘Ford Edsel.’ But the word ‘Ford’ doesn’t appear anywhere on the car. They even recruited brand-new dealerships instead of franchising with Ford/Mercury," he notes.

They blamed the workers (now it's the voters).

But squeezing in Edsels on the Ford and Mercury assembly lines proved to be disastrous from a quality control perspective because many Ford/Mercury employees resented having to build another division’s vehicles.
"As a result, the cars would come to the end of the line with parts missing and brakes not working," says Skinner. "A lot of cars that were unsafe for the road were being delivered to dealerships, as well as being very poorly put together. A lot of that is attributed to intentional vandalism, but to what extent, I don’t know."

Ultimately, a reputation for mechanical problems preceded the Edsel. "They occasionally ran out of parts and occasionally put the wrong parts on," concurs Ellsworth. "There were cases where cars that weren’t exactly complete showed up at dealerships. They would have a list on the steering wheel saying which parts were missing."

Design flaws also created issues for Edsel owners. Even the hood ornament became a safety hazard. "They had to redesign it," quips Ellsworth, "because once you got the car up to 70 mph—which was easy to do—it would just fly right off."

But, just to show that Americans are a forgiving people, there's this coda:

At this point it’s safe to assume that the Edsel will always be associated with failure. However, the car still has its defenders: "The Edsel is very misunderstood," claims Ellsworth. "It was a good, solid, fast, well-handling car. Sure it had problems, but nothing that should equate the name Edsel with failure."

Nevertheless, current-day owners will attest that there’s still a stigma attached to the Edsel. "Once it got a bad rap it became a joke to be caught driving one," reminds Brogan. "To this day, it’s still pretty embarrassing to be broken down on the side of the road with one."

So, what are they going to be saying about Edsel Bush in 50 years?  Maybe we should just forget that famous quote from George Santayana that Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it, because it's obviously a warning that's not going to sink in.  People don't learn from the mistakes or even failures of others for the simple reason that they always think they can do better. Which, when it comes to emulating failure, means they'll do even worse.


Originally posted to hannah on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 03:46 AM PDT.

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