Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's With The Rugelach-Bashing?

I recently had one of those Emily Litella moments (see entries for Emily Litella and Gilda Radner in Wikipedia if you've forgotten who Emily was). It got me thinking about the sad state of political discourse these days.

While driving from Outer Philadelphia to Upstate New York a few days ago, I took the back roads to avoid some badly-managed late summer road work on the Interstate (ah, the joys of GPS-based motoring--freelance detours without the fear factor). Fading in out out over the hills, the radio in my Jeep picked up something that sounded angry and white and pretty far to the right. I caught a phrase that sounded like "get rid of all these rugelach-eating liberal commie gun-banning elitist...something, something." And I'm thinking rugelach? Rugelach? Really?



What's wrong with rugelach? I love rugelach. I may be a liberal but I own a number of guns and have a target range just outside my office door. I like the idea of universal health care but that doesn't make me a Marxist. And I just don't buy the idea that I'm an elitist. I'm driving a Jeep for heaven's sake, a Laredo at that, not some fancy Orvis Edition. As for food, I know good corned beef hash when I taste it, and I've ordered it in diners from coast to coast. Okay, I admit that I have a weakness for pastry. But since when did pastry become elitist? I'm as happy with a good bear claw as I am with a croissant. Fair enough, I can pronounce croissant like the French do, and I happen to know why they're shaped like that, but can I help it that I paid attention in school? In the land of apple pie, pastry shouldn't be partisan.

So when I got signal back on my cellphone I Googled rugelach (please don't tell the State Troopers--Googling while driving is illegal in New York unless you do it hands-free). And I see that the word is Yiddish, from the Hebrew. So now I'm thinking this is some anti-Semitic slur. After that my mind started wandering into other areas, but a few days after I got home I remembered to ask my wife what was up with this rugelach-bashing. She informed me that it was arugula-bashing. Hence the 'never mind' Emily moment.

But wait a minute...what is arugula? And why is it so bad? Fortunately I found this page that explains a lot. Apparently, Barack Obama once said something about this--surprisingly common--salad green that some people were nevertheless able to interpret as a sign that the guy's elitist (apparently I've eaten the stuff many times and didn't know it--maybe it affects you over time). But what irony. Aren't the wealthy Republican fat cats the ones wolfing down the rocket at fancy DC hotels where lobbyists always get the check?

Come to think of it, the first unsolicited comment I ever heard about Barack Obama was from a working stiff who had met him. This was in 2006 at a hotel in DC. I was killing time in the lobby and noticed, on an internal schedule of events, that a Senator Obama--who was not yet a presidential candidte--was having some dinner event there. When I asked the kid at the front desk if this was a regular event he said: "Sure. Barack's my man. He always stops to have a word. He's just a regular dude."

So has Barack changed or have we yielded the floor to idiots on the airwaves who don't have the guts to discuss issues? I don't care what candidates eat. Frankly, I don't give a damn who they sleep with either. I just want to know what they are going to do to save this country from itself.

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