Last night, TRMS took another look at the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from West Virginia. His name is John Raese. Now, on first appearance, his name appears difficult to pronounce. When I first saw it, I thought it was just pronounced "race." He must get that a lot.
Especially since in order to get elected, he likes to use race as a tool, as bait -- in part to entertain, but also to get elected. In the segment above, you'll hear Raese willfully mispronounce foreign-sounding names like "Sotomayor" and "Chu". (What Raese does with that last one you will not believe.)
But here's the funniest thing -- at least, to me -- about Raese acting like a clown: he acted like a clown because he thought that's how his voters act. "Real Americans" can't pronounce "Ahmedinijad"! To me, the people who ought to be most upset are the white West Virginians whom Raese was clearly attempting to woo with his willful ignorance. Note that one of his audience members at the League of American Voters corrects him on the pronunciation of the Iranian president's name, and reflexively, he beats down all that fancy talk with another mispronunciation. You're appealing to the common man? The common man just corrected you, guy!
I liken that to a forum that I attended at my church months ago. An African-American Ivy League professor was speaking to us about the "Black Church." I found it considerably odd that this professor, who said that he doesn't attend church regularly, felt the need to reach down into his belly and go into PreacherSpeak®, affecting his cadence and putting forth the kind of stereotypical platitudes that makes me think he got his idea of the Black church from a movie.
Perhaps it's natural to try to acquire an affectation of speech or behavior when trying to appeal to those in a foreign environment to listen to you (and do things for you, such as vote). When traveling to a foreign land, it's natural to try to speak the language. An American can go to France and try to speak French, but if they don't know the culture or the language that well, they might sound like they're doing a bad Pepe LePew impression.
When I hear Raese doing his "I'm not a career politician" bit, I hear someone trying desperately to appeal to an audience that he himself has stereotyped. Keep in mind that this is the same guy who brags with a surprising candor that he made his money "the old-fashioned way" -- by inheriting it. He wants to take labor laws and regulations back to the Stone Age in the name of "capitalism, the way it should be". But most germane to this discussion is the fact that the dude has a degree in education from West Virginia University. Yet, we're supposed to believe that "Chu" ties his tongue (and therefore, makes him a "regular guy")?