Here's a quote with a name -- Harry Belafonte -- to go with it: "He’s a young man in many ways to be admired. Obviously very bright, speaks very well, cuts a handsome figure. But all of that is just the king’s clothes. Who’s the king?"
And Al Sharpton attaches his name to a quote: "Right now we’re hearing a lot of media razzle-dazzle. I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat, or if there’s some real meat there."
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I love the way Sharpton speaks in phrases that sound like existing expressions. "When the meat hits the fire." Google it, and you'll see that the hits are all this very quote from Sharpton. It meshes well with "hearing a lot of meat," and "hearing meat" isn't an expression -- how noisy is meat? -- and it's sort of a mixed metaphor. There's a faint echo of "Where's the beef?," the classic political catchphrase.... based on this commercial:
"When the meat hits the fire" sounds vaguely like other phrases: "Where the rubber meets the road," "When the sh*t hits the fan".... But "when the meat hits the fire" is a Sharpton original, I think. He concludes the thought with "we’ll find out if it’s just fat, or if there’s some real meat there," which seems to me to refer to the common expression "all sizzle and no steak." But in the case of a candidate who's "all sizzle and no steak," hitting the fire would be the point at which you'd get the most sizzle, based on the presence of fat, and you still wouldn't "hear the meat."
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But back to the meat of this post. Sharpton -- and others -- must be profoundly jealous and resentful -- and with good reason. In a political culture in which the media have long consulted them and preserved a place for them in the debate, now it seems that Obama will be given that place, and Obama is likely to say things that are far more mellow and conciliatory to the majority of Americans. They have to be asking -- and we should ask too -- whether that is why Americans like Obama so much. Looking at the problem from this angle, we should see that it's not simply a matter of personal jealousy, it is a real fear that their message is being effectively excised from the national debate.