*jaw drop*

1 February, 2007

Seriously? You don’t read the blogs for one day, and you have to have the radio tell you that both Joe Biden AND George Bush called Barack Obama “articulate”?

(comment from tpmcafe’s post on it: well, it’s more than we can say for Bush. Snicker.)

Biden also called him “bright” and “clean” and “nice-looking” and I gotta tell you, I’m having a hard time figuring out which of those descriptors is the icing and which is the cake. This disturbs me. I’m Metaphor Girl, and I can’t even figure out what’s icing, what’s cake, and whether the cake is chocolate with vanilla icing, vanilla with chocolate icing, or marbled. Oh, if only I were more articulate. Help me Obama!

(If it’s a little early for you and you can’t quite figure out why this is offensive — after all, he IS articulate, he’s one of the best orators in politics today, right? — try and think of how often you hear white folk described as articulate. Among other things, it’s code today for “Doesn’t speak with a black accent.” The offensiveness of “bright,” “clean” and “nice-looking” are left as an exercise for the reader.)

I like how Obama’s response points out that it’s not even true (Biden actually said that Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”) Even if you leave off the legendary activist and orator we just had a national holiday for and only consider the field of past black presidential candidates, that’s fucking rude. Of all the things to be said about Moseley Braun, Chisholm, Jackson and Sharpton, “inarticulate”? You could probably find examples of them having the same backhanded compliment tossed at them when they were running.

I’m not up on my senatorial gossip. is Biden an alcoholic? Was he high? Can you really be that unconsciously racist in America today? (Y’know what…don’t answer that.) Bush, we can explain. He is after all famously INarticulate and can be expected to say dumbass things. Why, the dumbass things he’s already said in 2007 would be front-page news for another president, but at this point we know his verbal fuckups are just a sidenote to his general incompetence.

In a bit of meta-analysis….I heard the teaser about this at the top of the hour, but the radio turned off and I missed part of it. Oh no, I hope I didn’t miss hearing what was said, I thought as I turned it back on. The first thing I heard was Juan Williams’ voice. Ah good, thought I. I didn’t miss the story. I wonder how Williams feels about being the pundit who gets the call when something racist happens to Obama?

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9 Responses to “*jaw drop*”

  1. jamy Says:

    I’m right there with you–it’s a shocking story. Sharpton was quoted as saying, “I take a shower every day.” Hey, at least he has a sense of humor!

    And I don’t think the call to Williams was racist–I think he’s covering presidential politics these days. For example, he did the big NPR interview with Bush the other day.

  2. Dr. Birdcage Says:

    Yeah, Williams is on the prez beat lately. The one that got me was “clean.” Clean? I mean, you have to be working hard to say nice things when you get to clean.

    Molly Ivins passed away yesterday, and I thought of your blog post the other day. She was awfully funny and articulate. For a woman. And so clean.

  3. techne Says:

    I heard she was ill is why I posted that. It didn’t sound good and I figured it would be soon.

    OK, I’ll give them the nonracism of choosing Juan Williams for this story. (I liked him anyway, right up until the Iraq war when he said something dumb that I’ve forgotten but that pissed me off.)

    I’ve heard it said that by “clean” Biden meant his background/history. whatever.

  4. KCinDC Says:

    I think the comment was offensive and stupid, but some of the reactions are misrepresenting it, sometimes because the media are misquoting Biden.

    Even if you use the misquoted version, Biden said nothing about Sharpton not being clean, or Chrisholm not being articulate, unless you believe that they were mainstream candidates, and I’m assuming “mainstream” here means “has a chance of winning the nomination”. Al Sharpton is not mainstream, any more than Dennis Kucinich is, so Sharpton’s hygiene is irrelevant.

  5. peakaction Says:

    I can’t believe that crap like this even happens. Are these idiots THAT out of touch with common-sense reality?!

    In many ways I feel like Obama is the new Colin Powell – an über-popular black man who scares the shit out of the old fat men who control the Washington Club.

    I remember people saying some similar things about Colin Powell when he suddenly got so popular after Desert Storm, and all the white politicians were afraid he was going to run for president.

    “He speaks so well!”

    “He’s a goddamned four-star general! Of course he speaks well!”

    “Well, I didn’t mean anything racist by it, but… He’s just so articulate and intelligent. I would vote for him!”

    Chris Rock had a great bit about it.

  6. Rachael Says:

    Does anyone remember Jackson’s “Hymietown” bomb in ’88? Yeah, that’s real articulate.

    As Oprah would say, Biden had a “Crash” moment. Lets get over it.

  7. techne Says:

    Thanks for the heads up KCinDC, I am a day behind the news and I see this has since been pointed out. I don’t think it changes my point, though. IMO the main issue is using that particular set of adjectives to describe a black man. It may not be equivalent to calling someone a nigger, but it’s a backhanded compliment with a distinguished history of racist undertones.

    I’m not sure how to post on Wonkette without a gawker login, but I was going to point out that I listed the same people that Obama did in his response, who are the African Americans who’ve run for president to date.

    And if “Hymietown” demonstrates anything it’s that holding poisonous stereotypes and putting one’s foot in one’s mouth are not unique to white people.

  8. Momb Says:

    Biden was smart enough to go on The Daily Show last night and get reamed by John D and act goofy and contrite…


  9. Okay, Biden had a ‘Crash’ (I’d prefer Birth of a Nation)
    moment.

    But here’s the part that makes me
    wonder….
    why did he have this moment in front of a reporter from the snarky NY Observer?

    Is he that lacking in media savvy that he couldn’t consider
    a response that wouldn’t raise calls of racism?

    and yes it is offensiveto refer to any minority as articulate. it’s as if the speaker is shocked that someone who isn’t white has a brain, can form complete sentences and run for President.

    and yes it is okay to be tired of the
    constant contempt that fellow Americans continue to show for their darker hued Americans.

    I too sing America
    but I’m getting mighty pissed at the casual relaxed racism that is being practiced.


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