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A few days ago, Organizing for
America Obama sent out an email announcing the Democrat party's decision to hold their 2012 national convention in Charlotte, NC. The email—written on Michele Obama's behalf—contained the following paragraph:
Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an “up by the bootstraps” mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South. Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue.
Locals snickered. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a black Democrat, admitted that while the city has good enough barbecue, the "great barbecue" is outside the city. The loyal leftists of the Charlotte Observer editorial board sheepishly admitted, "Everybody knows to get the best stuff, you gotta drive north to Lexington. Nobody really cared. About the closest thing to condemnation was Politico's statement that, "The gaffe was enough to make you wonder whether the White House had simply cut and pasted Southern clichés to create the first lady's announcement." By the way, who's wondering? Of course they "cut and pasted Southern clichés;" it's a campaign announcement. Besides, the very mention of barbecue should be proof Michele Obama didn't write the letter. Barbecue consumption is inconsistent with her war on obesity—but again, this is largely irrelevant; it's a campaign announcement.
To summarize: A staffer made an assumption about Charlotte in an announcement written on behalf of Michele Obama. Locals—both left and right—had some fun with it. In the end nobody cared .... Nobody except Media Matters, to whom this post is dedicated.
After reading their huffy response to "the great barbecue gaffe," it's clear that no controversy is too small for Media Matters to find a "vast right-wing conspiracy" lurking in the shadows. From their blog:
What’s the problem? Well, according to Politico, a Charlotte Observer noted that the "best" barbecue is not in Charlotte, but in Lexington -- which is about an hour from Charlotte. Politico considered that justification for its snide comments about gaffes and cliches. The Associated Press chimed in, too, with an article noting that the "barbecue center" of Shelby is "about an hour west of Charlotte."
So suddenly the Politico and AP—hardly a pair of "right-wing" disciples—are making "snide" comments because ... well ... they pointed out that the "great barbecue" isn't exactly in Charlotte. The histrionics continue:
So, in describing Charlotte, a city with two separate renowned barbecue destinations within an hour’s drive, the Obama email mentioned "great barbecue." And this is supposed to be a "gaffe" and an indication that someone "simply cut and pasted Southern cliches." Yes, that’s stupid because it’s utterly trivial. But it’s also stupid because it’s … well, it’s stupid. Even if you concede that it’s impossible to find good barbecue in Charlotte, that doesn’t matter. People who visit a new part of the country do not necessarily confine themselves to city limits. It’s like mocking someone for saying that while visiting Los Angeles, they plan to visit Disneyland. Ha! Disneyland is in Anaheim, not L.A.! Or that a visit to New York City might involve catching a Jets game. Ha! They play in New Jersey!
Okay, but that's not what the letter said. Instead, it claimed that "the Queen City is home to .... great barbecue." Furthermore, not only is Lexington about twice as far from Charlotte as Anheim is from L.A., but a trip from Charlotte means driving off the concrete island of civilization for an hour. A trip from L.A. to Anheim takes you through some housing developments.
Media Matters goes on to provide two even more pathetic defenses. First they cite a Time Warner sponsored Barbecue and Blues event that lasts for a weekend. Second, they note, "The visitor’s guide contains listings for businesses in both Lexington and Shelby, another reminder that they’re really close to Charlotte." At a minimum, eating in Lexington will be a three hour commitment for someone visiting in Charlotte. I don't know anyone that characterizes a destination an hour away as "really close."
Media Matters would have been better off ignoring this "controversy." If they had to write anything, they should have noted that Mrs. Obama clearly doesn't write her campaign emails. But to portray what has been generally taken as an understandable mistake as a vast conspiracy to make Michele Obama look bad, that's childish and laughable. To spin this non-controversy to erase an obvious—albeit minor and inconsequential—error, that's the epitome of petulance. Then again, Media Matters is petulant, childish, and laughable to anyone not steeped in far-left dogma, so I guess it's a fitting response.