In which I defend Michelle Obama against both the AP’s and Politico’s rank ignorance

Ok. Y’all know I’m not a big fan of our First Lady for various reasons, but there are times when even this staunch anti-Obama conservative has to step in and say, “Wait a darned minute.” This is one of those times.

After the announcement Tuesday courtesy of Mrs. Obama that Charlotte had won the 2012 Democrat National Convention, our Obamaloving liberal newspaper the Charlotte Observer posted a brief editorial on their blog regarding one of the comments the First Lady made about what is known down South as the “Queen City”:

Michelle Obama may know a lot about haute coutre in Chicago, but she doesn’t know hushpuppies about Charlotte’s culinary scene. In announcing Charlotte will host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the First Lady says:

“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.”

Huh?!?! We appreciate all the compliments, and they’re all spot-on until that last one. We like Spoon’s, Mac’s and Bubba’s just fine, but everybody knows to get the best stuff, you gotta drive north to Lexington.

Maybe this will be the publicity Lexington BBQ needs to open an outpost in Charlotte. Or how about a consortium of Lexington/Wilber Shirley/B’s/Skylight Inn/Allen & Sons at the corner of Trade and Tryon?

Clearly they’re taking a friendly jab at the First Lady by humorously disputing what cities in North Carolina have great BBQ. In turn, Politico spun the light-hearted post into a regional criticism of Michelle Obama, who they imply – because of the unserious Charlotte Observer editorial board post – doesn’t have a clue about Southern cuisine. In an article headlined “Charlotte charred by FLOTUS roast reference”, Molly Ball writes:

Charlotte residents were ecstatic to hear this week that their city was selected to host the Democratic convention. But there was one line in the e-mail announcement from First Lady Michelle Obama that made locals say, “Huh?”

In listing Charlotte’s many virtues, Obama named southern charm, hospitality, diversity — “And of course, great barbecue.”

That was news to residents, who know that North Carolina’s best barbecue lies farther afield. “We appreciate the compliments, and they’re all spot-on until that last one,” the editorial board of the Charlotte Observer newspaper wrote in a blog post titled, “Charlotte = great barbecue? Who knew?”

“Everybody knows to get the best stuff, you gotta drive north to Lexington,” the board added.

A local Associated Press reporter quoted a barbecue expert, retired University of North Carolina professor John Shelton Reed, who said that Charlotte for barbecue was “like Minneapolis for gumbo.”

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.

In another Politico article, here’s a direct quote: “First Lady Michelle Obama’s Charlotte barbecue gaffe”. Please!

The AP article referenced in the Politico piece was entirely devoted to the whole “pure BBQ” debate, where to get the best, etc, but also took a shot at Michelle Obama’s BBQ reference.

Seriously? And it’s not even a slow news week. Not by a long shot.

Listen, I’m cool with debates about whether or not Eastern BBQ is better than Western, where the best BBQ places to eat in the South are, etc. but the fact of the matter is there’s not a major city in the South you can visit that doesn’t have several really good BBQ restaurants at which to eat. Here, there’s Mac’s, Spoon’s, and Bubba’s, which the Observer mentioned. Bubba’s was rated by Southern Living Magazine readers as the #3 best BBQ place to eat in NC. There’s also a cute little BBQ place about 15 minutes from me called R & R BBQ. On 74, there’s a place that’s been around since the late 50’s called BBQ King. Simply put, there are a lot of good BBQ places to eat in this city.

So, Politico:

1) Stop assuming that the Charlotte Observer editorial board is “Charlotte.” Even if they were being serious about Charlotte not being *the* place for BBQ here in NC, which I don’t think they were, just because they wrote about it doesn’t mean they speak for the rest of us.

2) And that goes for your lone BBQ “expert” as well, AP.

3) Please reserve your Michelle Obama critiques for real issues, not non-existent “gaffes” about regional food offerings. I don’t know how much she knows about Southern food, but you’ve proven to me that your knowledge is sorely lacking.

Thank you. Felt good to get that off my chest.

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