Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The "cracker counties"

Jonathan Martin from Politico--appearing on MSNBC--refers to Florida counties in the Panhandle as "cracker counties." From the RCP link, Martin's words:
Chuck, one last thing on the map, though, if I could. I think the other reason why north Florida is going to be fascinating to watch tonight is because it's going to give us a sense of what's ahead in March, when this primary does move to the deep south states, because as you know, Chuck, a lot of the counties in the panhandle, in north Florida, the cracker counties, if you will...
So, does he know what he just said? Does he know that "cracker" is a pejorative. Probably. But to be fair to him, the term was used in reference to Florida voters in the past, by Bill Clinton. While being interviewed by Larry King in 2008 during Obama's campaign (Clinton was helping out), he said this:

You know, they think that because of who I am and where my politic[al] base has traditionally been, they may want me to go sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the 'cracker vote' there.
Clinton attributes that turn of the phrase to Lawton Chiles, and frankly that sounds about right. And by so doing, Clinton probably saved himself a little grief. Add to that, Clinton would probably refer to himself as a cracker, without batting an eye. But Martin isn't going to get the same treatment, I fear. He stuck his foot in it and embarrassed himself on semi-national television (we're talking MSNBC, after all).

Personally, I don't find the term all that insulting, but in an atmosphere where so many groups are quick to find offense even when none is intended, it behooves political commentators to exercise a little sense, I think. Will he be reprimanded? Will he apologize? We'll see.

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. Nobody's going to say much about saltines being insulted. Bleached-wheat privilege, and all that. Referring to parts of the southwest as taco country would be much more problematic.