Saturday, May 16, 2009

Politics of mustard--the prequel

Readers are well aware by now of the wingnut w**kfest over President Barack Obama's choice of condiment for his hamburger at Ray's Hell-Burger. Dijon mustard? "Hope you enjoyed your fancy burger, Mr. President," sneered Hal Turner's buddy Sean Hannity on (where else?) Faux News.

But a Hell-Burger isn't any old burger, and Ray's ain't exactly McDonald's. The beef patties there weigh in at 10 oz., and Ray offers them with foie gras, bordelaise sauce and white truffle oil if you prefer.

Never mind. There's no need to go over old ground, and it's uncharitable, in any case, to mock the insane.

What readers may not know, however, is that this was not the first brush with Dangerous Dijon that the President has encountered.

Twelve years ago, as he recounts in The Audacity of Hope, he managed to escape what might have been his undoing:

I first travelled through southern Illinois in 1997. It was the summer after my first term in the Illinois legislature, and Michelle and I were not yet parents. With session adjourned, no law school classes to teach, and Michelle busy with work of her own, I convinced my legislative aide, Dan Shomon, to toss a map and some golf clubs in the car and tool around the state for a week.

But as the date of our departure approached, it became apparent that he wasn't quite sure how I would be received in the counties we were planning to visit. Four times he reminded me how to pack – just khakis and polo shirts, he said; no fancy linen trousers or silk shirts. I assured him that I didn't own any linens or silks. On the drive down, we stopped at a TGI Friday's and I ordered a cheeseburger. When the waitress brought the food I asked her if she had any Dijon mustard. Dan shook his head.

"He doesn't want Dijon," he insisted, waving the waitress off. "Here" – he shoved a yellow bottle of French's mustard in my direction – "here's some mustard right here." The waitress looked confused. "We got Dijon if you want it," she said to me.

I smiled. "That would be great, thanks." As the waitress walked away, I leaned over to Dan and whispered that I didn't think there were any photographers around. [The Audacity of Hope. Vintage Books (first paperback edition, 2008), 60-61.

The unbearable lightness of American politics. If the media had caught wind of this appalling, traitorous, elitist, namby-pamby, foreign, special preference, would Obama's political career have been over before it began?

[H/t my wise neighbour Richard]

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