Aubrey-Maturin

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

My wife, Peggy, and I overdosed on the 2008 election.

Eighteen months ago—with 10 Republicans and eight Democrats vying for their respective nominations—we started slowly. By August of this year, we were hooked. We'd start the day at 6 a.m. watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and his happy crew—Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, Pat Buchanan, et al. At 1 p.m., over a sandwich in the kitchen, I'd look in on Andrea Mitchell. After work we'd surf the dials, hitting Chris Matthews, David Gregory and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC; Brit Hume and his wonderful roundtable on Fox News; as well as checking in on Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs at CNN. Compared to the energy and excitement of the cable shows, network evening news was a cure for insomnia.

The cable folks parsed every speech, analyzed every gesture, trumpeted every miscue, interviewed everybody and anybody who might shed some light on the outcome, and involved viewers in the minutiae of political campaigning. It was a giggle while it lasted.

Now Obama is in while McCain and Bush are out.

The suspense is gone. Life is normal once again.

So whither cable? Will it wither and die?

Welcome to the new shadow government.

Over the past month, I downloaded a boatload of material on the current financial mess for my archive. One story haunted me--the surreal tale of AIG's chief executive officer, Robert Willumstad, who thought he only needed $20 billion to get out of a hole.

Four days later--after a series of reports--he discovered the tab was really $80 billion.

How can a supposedly hands-on, competent CEO misplace $60 billion?

That's $60 billion with a B!

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset. If someone creates a product or service that enhances the value of your product or service—makes it more valuable to the user and very likely results in additional sales for you—that is called a PR coup. Do not sue the guy. Glorify him. Better yet, send him a case of Dom Pérignon. A Personal Digression A number of years ago I got hooked on Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels about the British Navy during the Napoleonic era. These were the stories of Captain Jack Aubrey, a “Master and Commander,” who was a daring fighter and hero

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