Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taking Pandering To A Whole New Low.

Yeah, I know "kingmaking" is old as politricks itself, but even I thought we'd seen the last of this peculiar strain of pandering during this year's Presidential election cycle. I mean, let's face it, if you can't win on your own merits, kissing someone's ring isn't gonna cut it anymore. People are too savvy, too smart, and well, too cynical for these sorts of shameful displays of public affection.

Well okay, maybe not yet.

Caroline Kennedy is no stranger to cameras, from her Camelot childhood to her recent years as a fixture on the New York charity-gala circuit. But now that she's expressed interest in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate seat, she's getting a taste of a different kind of coverage — New York style.

A throng of roughly 30 journalists — and a few curious onlookers — surrounded the scion of one of America's most storied Democratic dynasties as she visited the landmark Harlem restaurant Sylvia's with the Rev. Al Sharpton for a private but highly visible lunch.

After sharing a meal of chicken, string beans, collard greens, salad and cornbread at the famed soul food restaurant, Kennedy emerged with Sharpton at her side and answered a few questions from the pack of reporters waiting outside.
Come on now, let's keep it one hunned. You and I both know Caroline Kennedy ain't seen no parts of no cawnbread and yams in her sheltered, privileged life. Sure, her mammy nanny probably dined on this each night in the guest house, but I doubt lil' Caroline ever tasted the artery clogging wonder of ghetto mac -n- cheese. She prolly went straight from Sylvia's to her attendant physician the moment this staged publicity stunt ended.

And no, I'm not blamin' Rebb'n Al. I like Rebb'n Al, despite how much I might occasionally rag on him. As anyone who's ever listened to his radio show, or heard him speak off the record knows, he's a humble, downright hilarious guy who just doesn't know how to turn down a media request. The Kennedy camp prolly called him up and said "free Sylvia's on us, you down Al?" and he was prolly like "sheeit, you think I ain't?". I can't blame the guy for coppin' a free meal for his trouble, although as anyone who's been to Sylvia's can attest, that food is hot garbage! Like most stuff in NYC, it's reputation is severely inflated. My grandma could cook laps around that overpriced dawg food on her worst Sunday.

Still, it begs the question: why is this even necessary? I understand that showing folks you can relate to them is a part of politricks. Politricians swill beer, bowl gutter balls, and even chase pigs at county fairs all in a lame attempt to show people that they're "down". But c'mon, does anyone really believe this is how these folks roll on the daily? Of course, not, which is why it's largely insulting although it's supposed to be flattering. Look at Kennedy, she's eating the cornbread with a friggin' fork for crissakes! The discomfort with her surroundings couldn't be more evident.

Then again, if I had to eat that cement-like cornbread again, with cameras in my grill, I might do the same.

On a separate note, while she has few qualifications, let's fall back on the idea that Kennedy shouldn't get to warm Hillary Clinton's seat until the next election. Far worse people, from far less glamorous walks of life (comedians, actors, athletes) have served. Why not Kennedy? She's just a two year placeholder anyway. Let her have it. Who knows, she just might do a good job.

Just keep her away from the okra and sweet tea. It's not very becoming.

Question: Do you think the Kennedy/Sharpton "lunch" was over-the-top pandering? Should Kennedy get the Senate seat or should they hand it to someone more deserving or qualified like Andrew Cuomo? Have you ever been to Sylvia's? Were you as underwhelmed as I was? Could your grandma put most soul food joints to shame too?

Kennedy makes political pilgrimage to Harlem [AP]

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