Upon first meeting Bill Zachary and Dan Oliver, one might consider writing them off as preppy, button-down conservatives. Well, the clothes may fit that bill, but these two have the type of esprit de corps that molded our Founding Fathers. They are radicals, wickedly anti-establishment. Of course, in the 21st century that means they have a diabolical sense of humor toward political correctness.
In 2004, during the presidential run of Senator Kerry, who is married to the Heinz heiress Teresa, Messrs. Zachary and Oliver founded the W Ketchup company. Their entrepreneurial spirit allowed the members of the vast right wing conspiracy to enjoy their favorite condiment without contributing, however minutely, to the Kerry coffers.
Naturally, I ordered a case of W ketchup, and later a W cap, bumper stickers, and decals. It was just a gesture of support for President Bush's reelection, but the ketchup was a real surprise that was enjoyed by everybody in my family. I had no idea it was made by a local company until I received a press release with a Manhattan address commenting on Mr. Kerry's slip-up regarding the intelligence of members of the military.
In the release, Mr. Oliver, W Ketchup's CEO, stated: "Throughout the 2004 election Senator Kerry claimed he was a war hero and a patriot notwithstanding his condemnation of our troops in Vietnam. Now he displays his elitist arrogance by insulting our brave soldiers, in his unwillingness to apologize, and through his vindictive instinct to place the blame on someone else. It gives us pause that this man was nearly commander-in-chief and sheds light on the true sentiments of the Democratic Party."
I was delighted to find that this company was still alive and knew I had to meet those whom I intuited were kindred spirits. I contacted Mr. Zachary, Mr. Oliver's partner, who suggested we meet at the Harvard Club at 44th Street. Mr. Zachary confirmed that he did at times find Harvard University to be frustrating, a changed institution from the one that spawned pioneer conservatives like William F. Buckley. In my humble opinion, the conservatives who do manage to emerge from the Ivy-covered halls with their principles intact are the true blue conservatives who mischievously wreak havoc on the establishment.
Mr. Oliver, whose father was chairman of the Federal Trade Commission during the Reagan administration, admits that W ketchup was first started in fun. The 2004 presidential campaign also inspired a number of tongue-in-cheek operations that tweaked the biases of the major news organization. One group, called Communists for Kerry, marched in an anti-war parade and its members were interviewed by a CBS reporter who actually took it seriously. Its Web site www.communistsforkerry.com, condemned W ketchup as a "Capitalist condiment." Only mindless ideologues do not quite get the jokes on this hilarious site, which recently endorsed Senator Clinton.
Mr. Oliver is not a Republican, but a registered Conservative. He told me of a meeting with President Clinton at a miniature golf course in Hyannis Port several years ago. Mr. Oliver suggested that our loss of freedom began sometime after the New Deal. Mr. Clinton countered that our standard of living is much higher now than back then. After Mr. Oliver said, "Yes, but we are less free," he said Mr. Clinton seemed genuinely taken aback.
The concept of freedom before wealth is hard for Democrats to understand, but it is this principle that defines conservatism. Smaller government, less regulation, strong defense, and civil rights for all — these are radical concepts today, but one forgets that the original Republican Party members were radicals. Abraham Lincoln was hated just as much as Mr. Bush, only his vice president was a Democrat, Andrew Johnson. Maybe having Vice President Cheney around is keeping the president out of harm's way. After Lincoln was assassinated, the Democrats did all they could to unravel his Emancipation Proclamation. Not many blacks know that it was the Democrats who formed the KKK, and Jesse Jackson sure isn't going to clue them in.
Sitting in the members-only lounge at the Harvard Club with these modern rebels, I cheekily suggested that perhaps their product was so successful because it was Heinz inside a W bottle. No way, I was told, W ketchup is way better, made in America with only American ingredients and sold only in America. Also, unlike that other company, W ketchup does not donate to political groups or politicians. It donates only to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships for the children of our brave heroes killed in action.
As for the 2008 prospects, New Yorkers Dan Oliver and Bill Zachary know who they're rooting for to run. They both say, "John Kerry — bad for president. Good for Ketchup."
Correction from November 15, 2006:
Yale University graduated William F. Buckley. An incorrect university was referred to in a column on page 2 of yesterday's Sun.