Every now and then, I intend to call "bullshit" on some mainstream-media meme or blogospheric bunkum that happens to rattle my cage.
Let’s begin with the fact that some thoughtful folks are offended by the use of the word “articulate” to describe Sen. Barack Obama. It’s condescending, they say, to call an articulate black man “articulate.” You don’t hear people going around calling white men “articulate,” do you? Because they're expected to be!
To paraphrase the old Chris Rock joke, you call somebody “articulate” when you expected him to be stupid.
Racialicious, a liberal, anti-racist blog, put up a post yesterday titled “Barack Obama is AWB: Articulate While Black.” Guest poster Philip Arthur Moore cited references to Obama as “articulate” in the Christian Science Monitor, India’s Financial Express, Townhall.com and on KCCI, an Iowa TV station – all within the space of a couple of days.
Paul Butler over at Blackprof.com only needed to quote the first six words of a recent CNN profile of Obama: “Intelligent, articulate, who is Barack Obama?” A commenter named “Bennie” responded: “The patronizing racism from the media and pundits will only get worse from here on.”
To which I must say, with all due respect:
Buuullshit!! It’s not true that the media don't use the word “articulate” to describe white guys.
We have the handy example of another well-spoken Democratic candidate in this very same presidential race… another boyishly handsome lawyer who, in 2003, figured that two years in the U.S. Senate might entitle him to the keys to the White House. I’m talking about John Edwards.
Check out what people were saying – and still say – about that glib-tongued mother-huncher:
Candy Crowley, CNN: “He is a sort of, is a very articulate man. … He was front and center during the Monica Lewinsky impeachment trial of Bill Clinton and was considered very articulate during that time.” – January 1, 2003
Elwin Sherman, quoted on New Hampshire Public Radio: “He speaks well. He’s articulate. He’s a very sincere man.” – August 26, 2003
David Greenberg, Legal Affairs: “Fresh-faced and articulate, he possessed a warmth that his rivals lacked.” – January 2004
Slate partial headline: “… John Edwards is bright and articulate and really, really youthful. …” – February 6, 2004
Charles Paul Freund, Reason Online: “[A]lmost all the coverage was founded on the theme of Edwards as an articulate, appealing, and energetic political force.” – July 7, 2004
Rob McManamy, University of Chicago Chronicle: “The charismatic, passionate and articulate former U.S. Sen. John Edwards is speaking out about the need to lift more Americans out of poverty and into the middle class.” – March 2, 2006
David Hampton, clarionledger.com (Jackson, Miss.): “Edwards is young, smart, articulate and a good Southerner with moderate tendencies and a heart for traditional Democratic issues.” – December 28, 2006
wikiDemocrats.com: “He’s charming, he’s smart and he’s articulate.” – as of January 26, 2007
You know what? I don’t think John Edwards or his sympathizers consider it a freakin’ insult that he keeps being called “articulate.”