Norman storms DisneyWorld

Kevin Cowherd

March 15, 1991|By Kevin Cowherd

ANNOUNCER (off-camera): "Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, you just led the allied coalition to a stunning victory over Saddam Hussein's forces! Your troops cleaned house in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations! What are you going to do now?!"

Gen. Schwarzkopf (smiling): "I'm going to Disney World!"

*

God help us, but maybe that's what it's coming to.

The snapshots I see in my mind are absolutely chilling: Schwarzkopf, Mickey and Goofy waving to the crowd in front of the Magic Kingdom. Schwarzkopf high-fiving with Donald Duck at the head of the Disney parade and wisecracking to reporters: "We could have used this guy at Basra!" Schwarzkopf, in camouflage fatigues and tinted aviator shades, hamming it up with Snow White and playfully warning the Seven Dwarfs: "Y'know, the Army's lowering its height requirement to 36 inches . . ."

Madness, you say? A twisted hallucination fueled by reckless experimentation with peyote derivatives in the Sixties? A Dantesque vision of endorsement hell that has zero chance of ever becoming reality?

Maybe. But let's look at the facts, shall we? The fact is, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf is arguably the most popular and respected figure in the country right now.

Fresh from a decisive victory in the Persian Gulf war -- where the battle plan of Iraqi soldiers was to shoot both hands in the air when encountering the enemy and beg for a Snickers bar -- there is talk that the general could command upwards of $30,000 on the lecture circuit.

Schwarzkopf has also been mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate in '92 to replace Dan Quayle, who, you'll recall, spent the Vietnam War protecting Indiana golf courses from the Viet Cong while occasionally checking in with his National Guard unit.

Finally, Schwarzkopf might be the most coveted name in corporate advertising right now. Mention him as a possible product spokesman to, say, the Kodak people or the Jell-O pudding folks, they get so excited they have to be wrestled to the ground and injected with powerful sedatives.

Should the good general consider a second career as a professional shill, the DisneyWorld and military tie-in would be a natural. After staring at nothing but sand, camels and the ugly faces of fellow soldiers for the past seven months in the Gulf, it seems to me your average G.I. would be looking for a good time, even if it has to be with Mickey, Goofy and the rest of those annoying Disney characters.

(Speaking of annoying, what exactly is the story with Goofy? I know he's supposed to be Mickey's loyal pal and a good-hearted soul and all that. But all he does is walk around scratching his head and saying "Duh . . . yup, yup, yup." No wonder they call him Goofy. This guy couldn't spell "Scud" if you spotted him the S-c-u.

(They say Schwarzkopf doesn't suffer fools gladly, so when the general comes down to Orlando to shoot the commercials, the Disney people might want to keep Goofy out of sight. I'd think about sticking him on one of the grounds crews for a few days or having him help out in the kitchen at one of the restaurants.)

As appealing as the DisneyWorld gig would be for Gen Schwarzkopf, the credo in the lucrative world of product endorsement is this: diversify, diversify, diversify. All your big names -- your Bill Cosbys, your Michael Jordans, your Joe Montanas -- pad their considerable bank accounts by hyping a wide range of products.

Two words of advice, general: Diet Pepsi. We already know you drink the stuff. At that end-of-the-war sit-down with the Iraqi generals, you were photographed with a Diet Pepsi in front of you while everyone else was sucking down mineral water that must have tasted like turpentine, judging from the expressions on their faces.

OK, Diet Pepsi has some big names in its endorsement stable right now. M.C. Hammer. Ray Charles. But who's bigger than Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf? Answer: nobody. You're No. 1, baby.

Me, I see you in full dress uniform (or Hawaiian shirt, khakis and sneakers, it's up to you) backed by the Marine Corps band in one of those "You got the right one baby! Uh-Huh!" commercials.

Sure, I know Ray Charles does those spots now. And Ray Charles is a nice man. But he's got plenty of dough. Now it's your turn to cash in. Plus I know that any man who coordinated the most massive air, land and sea assault since World War II can do that "Uh-Huh!" thing.

The key, as I see it, is to hit that second syllable hard.

Just think about it, is all I'm saying.

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