Cokie: Hawaii Too Foreign For Obama

August 11, 2008 12:50 p.m.

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!

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