Barackand the Brandy: Rednecks Might Vote for Obama If They Knew about His Namesake

By Scruton, Roger | New Statesman (1996), October 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Barackand the Brandy: Rednecks Might Vote for Obama If They Knew about His Namesake


Scruton, Roger, New Statesman (1996)


I have no doubt that majority-opinion among our readers is firmly on the side of Barack Obama in the American presidential elections. And the same opinion prevails on the east coast of the United States. But where I am, in the heart of rural Virginia, it is permitted to express doubts, and as you travel inland the doubts get firmer.

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Not that people have anything very precise to say about what really troubles them about Barack Obama--vague references to his lack of experience, his uncertain loyalties or his peculiar companions merely reiterate, in negative form, the features that make him so attractive to the middle-class voters on the coast.

Only one feature of Obama seems to present a clear obstacle, in redneck eyes, to his prospect of being elected, and that is his first name. How could anyone get a name like Barack? What does it say about a guy, that he comes into the world with a name than nobody else could conceivably have as his own?

As a contribution to peace between the factions, I offer to my neighbours an explanation of Obama's name. "Barack" means apricot in Hungarian. Of course, you have to pronounce the "c", and it is only when written down that you get the point. But, to those in the know, this name evokes a direct path to peace and reconciliation.

The Hungarian apricot brandy--barack pdlinka--is one of those drinks that form an immediate atmosphere of goodwill and toleration between potential rivals, and the habit of taking a glass of it before a meal explains why Hungarians have lived through all the trials of modern times without falling out. …

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