by Will Schreiber

The “Roadside Motel” Bill

Elizabeth and I were watching Ken Burns’ documentary on the Vietnam War as we weaved our way through the backcountry of Laos.

In 1973, Henry Kissinger negotiated the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, a peace treaty meant to end the war in SE Asia.

But after both sides signed the agreement, the bombs kept dropping. The violence continued. Even though Nixon heralded the agreement as a success, it may as well have been called the “Continuing War And Ignoring Peace” treaty.

Neither side really believed that peace had arrived. The name was merely chosen as a political weapon.

Other Congressional bills use the same marketing tactic of having a name that’s the opposite of the actual bill’s effect.

The USA PATRIOT Act is an obvious example. Mass surveillance is not very patriotic.

It reminds me of interstate motels. When you’re driving along, and you see a billboard for “Clean Rooms” and “Hot Showers,” it’s typically a clue that you’re in for cockroaches and wilting water pressure.

Marketing like this smells. The messaging seems to be over-compensating for a real weakness.