Barrett: I'll have some 'cheesy' grits with a side of condescension

Barrett: I'll have some 'cheesy' grits with a side of condescension

March 18th, 2012 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

Dear Mittens,

Thanks for clarifying things during your swing through the South.

A lot of Southerners weren't sure about your candidacy. But you made it easier for us when you started slobbering incoherently about "cheesy" grits and when you insisted on seeding every other dependent clause that fell from your mouth like scalding cornbread with a leaden "y'all."

Where did you study politics anyway? The John Kerry School of Patronizing Bay Staters? The Al Gore Academy for Reaching Out and Annoying Someone?

RomneyCare and your on-again, off-again opposition to abortion already made it clear that you hold the region's conservative principles in contempt. Now we know you see us as the intellectual equivalent of orangutans, too. You didn't just pander to the South, you did it with such open condescension and phoniness that it amounted to mockery. And you actually thought that for the privilege of hearing you talk down to us, we'd vote for you, rather than consign you to third-place finishes in Alabama and Mississippi.

Well, congratulations on confirming the Obama-grade haughtiness and disdain that millions of Southerners suspected you harbored toward us all along.

Belated felicitations are also in order on your getting the all-important Haslam endorsement here in Tennessee. No telling what might have happened on Super Tuesday if you hadn't secured yet another establishment thumbs up. Heavens, you might have lost the state.

Oh wait ...

Anyhow, best of luck getting the majority of delegates you need to claim the nomination before the convention. But understand that if you get only a plurality -- a plurality based on the conservative majority being split between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich -- there will be a refreshing convention battle for the nomination, which you may well lose.

And you'll deserve to.

Now back to my "clammy" chowder.

Steve

In praise of Massachusetts

I like Massachusetts, by the way, so long as the subject isn't politics.

Don't know if I mentioned it before, but by weird circumstance, my blue-collar family vacationed on Martha's Vineyard in the late '70s. Talk about country come to town.

We were friends with someone who had bought a home there before real estate prices went bonkers, and he invited us up. So we rented an LTD -- back when even two-door cars could comfortably hold a family of six and two or three head of bison -- and made the trek.

There were some Vanderbilts or Buchwalds or similarly tony folks in homes nearby on the island. But to a person, they were as nice as they could be to us kids. They couldn't get over our Tennessee accents and kept wanting us to talk. Not in the make-fun-of-the-hillbillies sense, either. They were just enjoying something foreign to them. And not one of them rhapsodized about cheesy grits.

They even overlooked the fact that we kept trapping and skinning local wildlife, including an unfortunate Pomeranian that my sister mistook for an Arctic fox pup.

OK, I made that part up. It was a Pekingese.

We watched the Goldie Hawn-Chevy Chase flick "Foul Play" in an un-air-conditioned theater, but we weren't uncomfortable even though it was July or August. The murderous albino in the film kept me chilly enough, thank you very much.

But the most horrifying moment of the trip came when a drugstore clerk advised me that an ice cream cone would cost 75 cents. I offered him a freshly minted set of locally sourced rabbit-fur leggings instead, but he declined, obviously not wanting to take advantage of my generosity.

If everyone in Massachusetts has that level of integrity, it's hard not to respect them.

Even if they did keep electing Kennedys.

Tradeoff

They have a saying in Spanish: "En boca cerrada, no entran moscas," or "Flies don't enter a closed mouth."

On the down side, neither does blackberry cobbler, nor tomato, mayonnaise and black pepper sandwiches on white bread.