Cokie: Hawaii Too Foreign For Obama


This is the sort of mind-numbingly banal observation that passes for political analysis these days. Tut-tutting over the timing of Barack Obama’s family vacation, Cokie Roberts yesterday on ABC’s This Week added that Hawaii was not an appropriate destination: too foreign and too exotic. “I know Hawaii is a state, but …” Roberts declared, while insisting Obama vacation in some place like Myrtle Beach, S.C.:

She picked the theme up again this morning in her regular Morning Edition appearance on NPR:

RENEE MONTAGNE: Now Obama is spending the week on vacation in Hawaii, he’s taking a vacation, he says, because it’s good for his family, but is it a good point in the presidential campaign?

COKIE ROBERTS: It’s a little rough to be doing it at this point, although I think he’s feeling somewhat secure, but Hawaii is also a somewhat odd place to be doing it. I know that he is from Hawaii, he grew up there, his grandmother lives there, but he has made such a point about how he is from Kansas, you know, the boy from Kansas and Kenya, and it makes him seem a little bit more exotic than perhaps he would want to come across as at this stage in the presidential campaign.

I drove all the way across Kansas and back last week, and Cokie is right: It’s anything but exotic. But Hawaii as too foreign? Seriously?

It got us to thinking. What is the most white-bread place for a black presidential candidate to vacation, since that’s apparently the new standard? Surely we can do better than Myrtle Beach. The best we’ve come up with so far is Branson, Missouri — so long as he avoids the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, which is way too exotic.

Late Update: TPM Reader JH suggests:

1) The Wisconsin Dells
2) Wall Drug, South Dakota
3) Wildwood on the Jersey shore.

All of this must be done with Barack driving the family in a station wagon, preferably wood paneled. Just don’t pull a Romney and put the dog on top …

TPM Reader DW continues the Mitt theme:

I nominate Kennebunkport for a white-bread vacation spot. From Wikipedia: The racial makeup of the town was 98.49% White, 0.22% Black or African American …

Failing that, go wherever it is Mitt Romney vacations, that’s gotta be white

Later Update: TPM Reader CG says don’t forget Dollywood.

Latest Update: Some intra-reader squabbling over what constitutes “white bread.” From TPM Reader M:

Wildwood, N.J., may be white — but it sure as hell ain’t white bread!

That’s like saying ‘The Sopranos’ is just too darn WASPy. Too Edith Wharton.

Wildwood was made legendary by working-class Italian-Americans from South Philly and (to an only slighter extent) the swampier regions of the Garden State. Those folks still come out in droves, but now you get working-class Russians and even African-Americans too. (Though, okay, in no great numbers.) It’s the kind of place where women wear make-up on the beach and the boardwalk is fragrant with the smell of Zeppolli [look it up] from all the stands. (Zeppolli — not white bread!)

As a fan of gross cultural ignorance I stand in awe of you and JH.

Man, are you two clueless!


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.