CHICKEN MAN: Chick-fil-A's CEO now regrets action that spurred the likes of Mike Huckabee to lead a chicken buying binge to demonstrate opposition to marriage equality.
What will Mike Huckabee
say? Will Republicans
now have a new obligatory foodstuff for tailgate parties? Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy,
prompted in part by a talk with a gay friend and also by business realities, now says he made a mistake in getting involved in the same-sex marriage debate.
Tallking Points Memo reports
on an interview Cathy gave the Atlanta newspaper on same-sex marriage opposition and other topics:
But while Cathy hasn't changed his position, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that he regrets getting involved in the debate.
“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make,” Cathy said, as quoted by the Journal-Constitution. “And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it."
Cathy said his decision to keep his views on marriage to himself came after prayer and a conversation with a gay friend who, according to the Journal-Constitution, "helped Cathy understand why marriage was important to the gay community."
Live and let live. It's a whole lot better than oppression. What a difference a little time makes. Not to mention changing national attitudes. It wasn't long ago when Mike Huckabee led hordes of like-thinking people to buy chicken as a political statement. There was a spike-the-football glee in the adoption of Chick-fil-A as a banner for everything from Republican tailgate parties (Tiny Tim Griffin, to name one particularly obnoxious example) to Tweets and re-Tweets of cheerleaders proclaiming they'd purchased THEIR mediocre fried chicken that day. Intended or not, plenty of people on the other side received all this as a vote for second class citizenship, or worse, for gay people and the people who love them. Chick-fil-A and others protested that they didn't discriminate against customers or employees, but it was hard to credit the sincerity of drumstick-waving zealots gleefully cheering Cathy.
Cheerleaders there were aplenty, but the taste wasn't so sweet for others, as evidenced by objections in some places to Chick-fil-A expansion.
For Cathy, who is in a cutthroat business where no player can afford alienating market segments, the lingering identity is troubling.
“Consumers want to do business with brands that they can interface with, that they can relate with,” Cathy said. “And it’s probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.”
In short, I wasn't alone when I decided never to set foot in a Chick-fil-A and to avoid those who had gleefully brandished its chicken strips as symbols.
The full Atlanta article is interesting
on this point and other aspects of the tough franchise chicken business.