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

Posted by: ST on February 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm

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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19 Responses to “In which I defend Michelle Obama against both the AP’s and Politico’s rank ignorance”


  1. Phineas says:

    Barbecue is like chili*, every state in the nation claims to have the best.

    *(And there is no truth to the rumor that we put grapes in our chili in California! Bean sprouts and granola, on the other hand… ;) )

  2. Carlos says:

    As an outside observer without a dog in the fight, Ball actually sounded closer to the truth when she noted “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.”

    Take out “The gaffe” and, if you read the MO announcement without a jaundiced eye, it really seems quite accurate.

    ‘Course, it wouldn’t be the first time one of the Obhammuds had simply cut-and-pasted some announcement simply because an announcement was expected. Too busy with important things, you see, like running other peoples’ lives.

  3. ST says:

    Anthony, how’s the tofu chili? ;)

  4. DavidL says:

    Maybe, or maybe not, FLOTUS is an expert on southern BBQ. However given the size of her ham hocks, the Fat Lady of the United States is certainly an expert on some form of high calorie food.

  5. Phineas says:

    Anthony, how’s the tofu chili?

    Not bad, when you throw in some soybeans and organic ketchup. :o)

  6. Amy Shulkusky says:

    Seriously? This is how they try to be “fair” and seem unbiased, by acting like mean kids? Issues please. No calling her on her body shape, her mode of dress – where she involves herself in ALL our lives is what truly matters!!!

  7. fwi says:

    The bit about the BBQ tht makes it important is that it is yet one more example of the obamas not doing the research, not checking protocol, just winging it in a very superficial manner. Just lazy and dismissive of everyone but themselves.

  8. D West says:

    R&R mmmmm…almost makes me want to move back to Charlotte. Maybe after the DNC…

  9. b5blue says:

    You mean states other than Texas have Bar-B-Q? :0)

  10. Tony Hooker says:

    Sorry, There is no good Barbecue in Charlotte. Or for that matter, Concord, if you include R&R. Closest is in Salisbury, and that’s only because they do it Lexington style.

  11. karen s. says:

    The mistake Michelle O. made here was depending on her speechwriters. This is the equivalent of the rock band that yells “Helloooo Cleveland” when they’re playing Cincinnati.

    Indeed a very minor gaffe, but one that gets almost all on-the-road politicians & entertainers at one time or another.

  12. William Teach says:

    Let’s face it, Eastern NC bbq is the best!!!!!! Period!

    That said, the whole MSM meme was silly. I visit Charlotte now and then, and, you can get good BBQ there. Michelle was simply attempting to inject some connection cues into the message (or, at least, whoever wrote it for her.) Sounded a whole lot better than mentioning the banks’ skyscraper wars, or the wonderful rail and trucking hubs in Charlotte. Probably wouldn’t have gone over to well if she mentioned the Panthers (sorry, ST, hopefully next year).

  13. Bob says:

    Absolutely right, Mr. Teach. Now all that’s left to decide whether it’s Wilson, Rocky Mount, or… :d

    While I’ve had very few tastes of barbecue other than mass produced store brands that weren’t good, really good barbecue just doesn’t have tomato katsup on it.

    The good sister ought to get out more. She seems a bit insulated in Charlotte.

  14. Carlos says:

    What no one has mentioned is that BBQ is definitely not on MO’s list of acceptable, nutritious foods she wants to force on everyone else, especially the children, to eat.

    So which is it, FLOTUS? Do you want everyone to eat properly so we can live to ripe old ages in gulags, or should we eat what tastes really good?

    And what business is it of yours what I eat? Where’s that found in the Constitution?

  15. Lorica says:

    I agree, BBQ is such a personal thing. I love the ribs at Montana Jack’s but friends of mine want the ribs at Jim’s Rib Haven.

    Personally, I think I make the best BBQ pork in the world, but it doesn’t mean I want to host the Dems at my house!!! =)) – Lorica

  16. Brutus says:

    Lorica, you’re in the Quad-Cities!!! Jim’s Rib Haven..been there, done that… Montana Jack’s out by LaQuinta! Phearless Phil Harebrain is gone!!! Bobby Schilling rocks!
    You must be jubilant!!!!

  17. Lorica says:

    LOL :) YES I AM Brutus!!! Never on the planet was there a dumber man elected to office than Phil Harebrain. Bobby has his stuff together, and I am believing that he will do well for us. I have also heard rumors that the Phil is going to run against Bobby next year. LOL :) Please Ohhh God let him win the Dem nomination!! He is such an incredibly dumb man.

    My biggest fear is that the idiots who are going to be in charge of the redistricting of this state will write Bobby out of a district. God knows that this state was Gerrymandered the last time it was done.

    I think I am going to Montana Jack’s on Thursday!!! John George has some of the best freakin’ alfredo sauce on the planet, if you have never tried it Brutus. :) – Lorica

    Ohhh and to be fair to Jim, his ribs have only been so so since the Dad gave the place over to the Son.