July 26, 2004

IA First Lady slams blacks, Southerners as bad speakers

Ketchup Boy & Iowa's Intolerant Woman in January
Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack's husband Tom almost became John Kerry's running mate.

A new flap is coming to light involving comments by Christie Vilsack that, while Democrats are falling all over themselves try to spin the statements in a different light, John Kerry must be sending up prayers of thanks that he didn't pick Governor Vilsack as his running mate.

The Boston Herald has uncovered a 1994 editorial by Ms. Vilsack that derides blacks and those people from the South as being "bad speakers."

``I am fascinated at the way some African-Americans speak to each other in an English I struggle to understand, then switch to standard English when the situation requires,'' Vilsack wrote in a 1994 column in the Mount Pleasant News, while her husband, Tom, was a state senator.

Vilsack wrote that southerners seem to have ``slurred speech,'' wrote that she'd rather learn Polish than try to speak like people from New Jersey, and wrote that a West Virginian waitress once offered her friend a ``side saddle'' instead of a ``side salad.''

The future Iowa first lady seemed to be promoting English as the nation's official language, an issue that tripped up her husband, Gov. Tom Vilsack, with many Democrats.

Vilsack's Aug. 24, 1994, column was particularly critical of dialects from other regions of the country. In addition to the knock on African-Americans, Vilsack knocked residents of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"Later, on the boardwalk, I heard mothers calling to their children, `I'll meet yoose here after the movie,' '' she wrote. "The only way I can speak like residents of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania is to let my jaw drop an inch and talk with my lips in an 'O' like a fish. I'd rather learn to speak Polish.''

Two years later, in a column about her trip to the Olympics in Atlanta, Vilsack said she had "language problems.''

"When I ask for directions, I can't understand the slurred speech of southern Americans, who are so polite and eager to please,'' Vilsack said.

The Kerry campaign has referred all questions regarding Vilsack to the Democratic National Convention Committee.

This could become problematic for the Democrats, as Ms. Vilsack is set to speak before the convention in prime time tomorrow night.

And as for her trip to our great Southern Empire down here in 1996? Asking directions here is easy: They all begin with "You start out on Peachtree St...."

Posted by mhking at July 26, 2004 07:11 PM

...then you hang a left at the second cow, drive across Murdoc field, and you're there..."

Posted by: Beck at July 26, 2004 07:27 PM

Yo, Christie, yoose got some sort of atetude.

Posted by: J_Crater at July 26, 2004 10:44 PM

You sure are right about that Peachtree Street thing. What's up with that, anyway?

Posted by: Amy Ridenour at July 27, 2004 01:24 AM

Ms. Vilsack is being chastised by her party for telling the truth? I didn't see any defamations or exaggerations in the quotes. PC is destroying American diversity which, IMO, should be embraced and preserved. We're losing something precious and irreplaceable here, folks.

Southern WASP

Posted by: Indigo at July 29, 2004 07:19 PM
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