Saturday, September 13, 2008
It's Going To Get Worse
WASHINGTON (AP) — Activists at a conservative political forum snapped up boxes of waffle mix depicting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a racial stereotype on its front and wearing Arab-like headdress on its top flap.
Values Voter Summit organizers cut off sales of Obama Waffles boxes on Saturday, saying they had not realized the boxes displayed "offensive material." The summit and the exhibit hall where the boxes were sold had been open since Thursday afternoon.
The box was meant as political satire, said Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, two writers from Franklin, Tenn., who created the mix. They sold it for $10 a box from a rented booth at the summit sponsored by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.
David Nammo, executive director of the lobbying group FRC Action, said summit organizers were told the boxes were a parody of Obama's policy positions but had not examined them closely.
Republican Party stalwarts Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were among speakers at the forum, which officials said drew 2,100 activists from 44 states.
While Obama Waffles takes aim at Obama's politics by poking fun at his public remarks and positions on issues, it also plays off the old image of the pancake-mix icon Aunt Jemima, which has been widely criticized as a demeaning stereotype. Obama is portrayed with popping eyes and big, thick lips as he stares at a plate of waffles and smiles broadly.
Placing Obama in Arab-like headdress recalls the false rumor that he is a follower of Islam, though he is actually a Christian.
On the back of the box, Obama is depicted in stereotypical Mexican dress, including a sombrero, above a recipe for "Open Border Fiesta Waffles" that says it can serve "4 or more illegal aliens." The recipe includes a tip: "While waiting for these zesty treats to invade your home, why not learn a foreign language?"
The novelty item also takes shots at 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, Obama's wife, Michelle, and Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The Obama campaign declined to comment.
Wearing white chef's aprons, Whitlock and DeMoss were doing a brisk business at noon Saturday selling the waffle mix to people crowded around their booth. Two pyramids of waffle mix boxes stood several feet high on the booth's table.
"It's the ultimate political souvenir," DeMoss told a customer.
Asked if he considered the pictures of Obama on the box to be racial stereotypes, Whitlock said: "We had some people mention that to us, but you think of Newman's Own or Emeril's — there are tons and tons of personality-branded food products on the market. So we've taken that model and, using political satire, have highlighted his policies, his position changes."
The socially conservative public policy groups American Values and Focus on the Family Action co-sponsored the summit.