George Graham

More About Those Talking Heads Who Shape Our Thoughts

I was watching MSNBC a few moments ago and a guy named Mike Barnicle showed up, smirking and making remarks about Barack Obama that I found extremely offensive. He was filling in for Chris Matthews on “Hardball,” a show that’s often juvenile but not usually Machiavellian.

This Barnicle is no Chris Matthews, however. He’s a regular member of the “Morning Joe” crowd who snicker and sneer at progressive politics every day on the so-called news network. Barnicle is the guy who had his “Morning Joe” buddies rolling on the floor when he compared Sen. Hillary Clinton to “everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court.”

Barnicle has a rather checkered past. He was a columnist at the Boston Globe, but according to his biography in Wikipedia, he was booted in 1998, “amid questions about the sources of two of his columns. Wikipedia says one column “allegedly contained unattributed material from the 1997 book Brain Droppings by (the late) George Carlin,” and another column was a “possible fabrication.” Everybody makes mistakes I suppose. but why do they pick such questionable “journalists” as TV gurus these days?

Anyway, what did Barnicle say that got me so mad I had to jump up and write a blog?

I didn’t take notes, but the message I got was that Barnicle thinks Obama’s “cool elegance” makes him unacceptable to many “middle-class” voters.

So, hold on just a moment, would that still be true if Obama was white?

None of the “Hardball” panel members asked that question. A panelist named Michelle suggested that if Obama were more emotional, as Barnicle was suggesting, voters might think of him as “an angry black man.” But that was as close as they came before I switched off the TV and headed for my computer.

OK, guys, you can think of me as an angry Jamaican man because I resent this kind of racism.

Nobody complained about Franklin Roosevelt’s “cool elegance.” I don’t think anyone voted against him because of his stylish cigarette holder, for example. What about John Kennedy’s cool elegance? And how about Jackie? Talk about elegant! Nobody has been more elegant than Jackie Kennedy – before or since.

But that’s OK for them. You see, as white folks, they’re entitled to be cool and elegant.

With black folks, now, that’s different… They gotta know their place, even if they did go to some fancy school like Harvard. They gotta act, well, “regular.”

It seemed to me that what Barnicle was suggesting is that Obama is “uppity.” It’s a common theme among right-wing propagandists in the current election campaign, but they don’t use the word “uppity.” They brand Obama as “elitist.”

Or, as in Barnicle’s case, “cool” and “elegant.”

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com