Thank god he didn’t go to Puerto Rico

In this baffling segment from ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts claims that Barack Obama is alienating shit for brains Americans by vacationing in the far-off, exotic land known as…Hawaii.

Going off this week to a vacation in Hawaii…does not make any sense whatsoever. I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state, but it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place. He should be in Myrtle Beach, and, you know, if he’s going to take a vacation at this time.

Yes, Hawaii, that mysterious island filled with brown people who have really long last names with no consonants, and they dance and eat weird food and go around topless.  And coconuts! What the fuck’s with those things? It’s too different for the average American to comprehend, if Obama wants to win votes he should be vacationing in Myrtle Beach, or better yet maybe Branson or Dollywood, with the rest of the unwashed masses ordinary folks.

Much has been made by such “media experts” as Cokie Roberts and George Will over the image Barack Obama projects to potential voters, that of someone who’s maybe a bit cool, a bit distant, a little arrogant perhaps, and how that could ultimately damage his chances at winning the election.  According to media experts, Americans are threatened by people with class and dignity, which I suppose would explain why shows like Cops and Wife Swap are so popular.  David Brooks of The New York Times famously criticized Obama a couple months back by saying he “doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who could go into an Applebee’s salad bar.”  Because that’s what we need in a president, not someone with the ability to lead the country with strength and honor, but someone who we’d want to see chomping down on some fried mozzarella and doing a little karaoke afterwards.

After that whole bullshit “jes’ folks” act George W. Bush put on, particularly when going up against stiff, patrician John Kerry in 2004, are we still in an era where politicians need to become “more accessible” (read: “dumbed down”) to a level that will make the “average American” comfortable? Did anybody really buy that Bush was just an ordinary fella, the type of guy you’d see not just licking buffalo wing juice off his fingers at Applebee’s, but buying t-shirts from Wal-Mart depicting Dale Earnhardt Jr. ascending to Heaven? Sure, if, to paraphrase David Cross, the ordinary fella went to Yale and had a father who was not just head of the CIA but vice-president and then president of the United States.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part, but it seems terribly hypocritical for Cokie Roberts to blast Barack Obama for being out of touch with the average American by suggesting that the average American is so dumb they have to be reminded that Hawaii is a state.  To Roberts, the “average American” can barely find his own ass with a flashlight and a map, let alone find his way to a polling center anyway, so what are we worried about? They’ll be too busy staying home and voting for the next American Idol instead. 

The term for it is “projection,” when we attribute negative behavioral patterns we possess onto other people.  Both of Cokie Roberts’ parents were members of Congress, and she graduated from Wellesley, it’s unlikely that she’s been in touch with the average John or Jane Smith in a very long time, if ever at all.  George Will has degrees from Oxford (note: a foreign school!) and Princeton, and won a Pulitzer Prize.  I don’t think you’re going to see him quaffing down $1 Buds at the local O’Flannigans.  How dare these rich, privileged bags of hot air claim to know what “average American values” are, that Americans are initimidated by someone who carries himself with grace and self-respect, and would rather see somebody hootin’ and spittin’ chaw at a rodeo?

And what does that say about John McCain, who seems to be happily picking up this smear tactic and running with it? Does he not realize that by painting Obama as the candidate for bourgeoisie snobs who eat sushi and like movies with subtitles, he’s ultimately painting himself as the candidate for ignorant hillbillies? Because that’s what the “average American” is, right? These “traditional values” pundits keep going on about apparently include cringing in fear and hatred at the thought of anything “foreign,” such as Hawaii, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world, including for other Americans.  Do they avoid the World Pavilion at Epcot as well? That’s pretty fucking foreign.  Does the average American want people who clearly think so little of them to speak for them? Or are they too busy stocking up on three-gallon drums of cheese balls and the first season of Blue Collar TV to care?

As I mentioned before, part of my rant is rooted in wishful thinking.  Part of me hopes like hell that the perception of the “average American” by people like Cokie Roberts is based in insulated snobbery.  Another part fears the possibility that the “average American” really doesn’t mind being thought of as dim-witted podunk trash, as long as it keeps an uppity Negro out of the White House.

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