Friday, June 22, 2007

George Bush Wants Kermit Ruffins to Pick Up the Trash

This week, President Bush gave a picnic for Congress on the South Lawn. The theme, no, I'm not kidding, MARDI GRAS. Paul Prudhomme catered, Kermit Ruffins and his band played.

Not a word about the current state of New Orleans, or Louisiana, just a really badly racist and demeaning joke about "picking up the trash." You gotta see it to believe it.

I am posting the White House transcript in toto:

June 19, 2007

President and Mrs. Bush Host Congressional Picnic
South Lawn

8:10 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Laura and I welcome you to the South Lawn. This is an opportunity to thank the members of Congress and their families for serving the United States.

First, I want to recognize the Speaker. Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us. It means a lot that you've come. I appreciate the leadership of the House and the Senate who have joined us. For all the wives and husbands, thank you for standing by your spouse. It's not easy to be in public office. It's a lot easier, though, when you have somebody who loves you to help you do your job. And so Laura and I want to thank you all, in particular. We're proud to be serving with you. Occasionally we might have our differences, but one thing we all agree on is we represent the greatest country on the face of the Earth. (Applause.)

I want to thank our Chef, Paul Prudhomme, from New Orleans, Louisiana -- one of the great chefs in America. Thanks for coming, Paul. (Applause.) I thank Tony Snow and his bunch of, well, mediocre musicians -- (laughter) -- no, great musicians. Beats Workin, thanks for coming. (Applause.) Kermit, come up here. Kermit, we're proud to have you.

MR. RUFFINS: Well, thanks for having us.

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We're glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you're here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over. (Laughter.)

God bless you, and may God bless America. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

END 8:12 P.M. EDT


Maitri said...

I don't think it was Kermit he was referring to as much as it was the visiting New Orleanians, which is equally heinous but not racist.

rcs said...

He was addressing the crowd. Here's the video.

Slate said...

I see, Maitri and rcs. I hadn't seen the video, only read the text. I see that it wasn't directed to Kermit.

It was still a bizarre thing to say, and to leave out any reference to the city's situation strikes me as insensitive, at least.

But I stand corrected. He didn't ask Mr. Ruffins to pick up the trash.

DFJ said...

Firstly, Kermit R is from NOLa. Right? So of course there was a Mardi Gras themed event on the "South" Lawn. Secondly, partying, drinking and Mardi Gras revelry are the public images New Orleans "sells" to the world. We have a mayor who has second-lined in the streets with an umbrulla in front of national media. So having a Mardi Gras themed picnic was just the path of least creative resistance.

Pick up the trash? .As a person of African descent, I am not insulted. I'm of of the opinion that Pres. Bush was attempting off the cuff humor. He was misinterpreted. That's all. At our family picnics there is always someone who says, "you guys make sure to pick up the trash". But in this age of fearing the "racist" label, it's hard for anyone to even say Good Morning for fear of being called a racist or a homophobe.

And why mention New Orleans' situation a party? Serious and meaningful dialogue occurs behind closed doors. I'd rather Bush discuss real solutions privately, than make public comments at a picnic to pander to New Orelans finger pointers.

Jason said...

You are reaching too far on this one Slate, quit trying to stir things up when you only have half the story.