Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More on Cokie Roberts, the Foreign Land of Hawaii, Plus Cokie's New Orleans

I hadn't planned to talk about the Cokie Roberts flap at all. (You've probably heard that Hawaii's not a state as much as it is an exotic, foreign land by now.) However, after reading Erin's post at BlogHer on the subject, I left a comment that turned into a mini post. Here's what I had to say in response. Please also read Erin Kotecki Vest's post.

Comment at Blogher: Oh, you mean THAT Cokie Roberts?

I first read about this at HuffPo and seriously, I laughed. And I also asked, "Wait. Who said that? Cokie Roberts! Our Cokie Roberts? They mean Cokie Roberts of New Orleans, born to the Boggs family, daughter of Hale and Lindy (her parents are sort of like political royalty down here), and Cokie, a descendant of the Claiborne family (more people who left a mark on history)?"

Whoahoaa! I mean, that Cokie learned to spell "elitism" in her crib.

I've always thought she was a good journalist, but now I'm wondering was Cokie out to lunch on the Hawaii thing or crazy like a Fox news pundit (She made her comment on an ABC Rountable). She comes from my city, a city that my college friends who attended school down here in NOLA used to leave on break and say "Okay, back to the USA," and that was as late as 1978.

According to cultural historians, it wasn't until the 40s that some "elitist" Louisianians and elite wannabees finally accepted that Louisiana was really part of this nation. (Cokie was born in 1943, btw) They wanted to maintain their French connections and mystique, understand. Very snobby. In fact, talk of secession from America came up again in the 30s from one of our more colorful politicians, The King Fish. The idea didn't sound crazy to Huey Long because he heard it all the time, that Louisiana was not really American but French and should go its own way.

And we know some people still think of New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana as exotic --- "Ooooh, it's got all those black people who know VooDoo and might be Creole. It's got those odd Cajuns, unusual food, and weird graveyards." Uh, huh.

But as you point out, Erin, and what made me laugh when I first read about this, is that Obama has family in Hawaii. He was born in Hawaii. I guess going home is no longer an American freedom. Is being family-oriented no longer a good thing?

Cokie acknowledged that Obama's grandmother's in Hawaii and that Hawaii is a state (how broadminded of her), but she said Hawaii has the look of some exotic, foreign place. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. It's just more of the strategy of making Obama look not only elitist, but also un-American and foreign. I'm very disappointed with Cokie's choice of words, and since I consider her to be a good journalist, I can't help but feel she intended the meaning behind them. As I suggested earlier, maybe she's gone crazy like a Fox News pundit.

And so ends what I said at BlogHer. BTW, if you'd like to see pictures from Obama's Hawaii vacation with his family, here's a link. This man is about to go into battle as the first African-American to have a believable chance of becoming President of the United States. I think he deserves a vacation, even if only a visit home.

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