POSTED: 14 AUGUST 2008 - 8:00am

An open letter to Ms. Cokie Roberts

video above: Cokie Roberts statement from

A letter to NPR/ABC News senior news analyst
and political commentator

Cokie Roberts on Obama's vacation:
"I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state," but it looks "foreign, exotic", Roberts continued: "He should be in Myrtle Beach,if he's going to take a vacation at this time."

by Jon Letman on 14 August 2008

Aloha, Ms. Roberts,

Here in Hawaii we do our best to keep abreast of the affairs of the United States Mainland.

Many of us, like myself, do not have televisions in our little grass shacks, but, thanks to and DSL connections, we are able to follow current events 'over there.'

I can appreciate your concern that Barack Obama's visit to Hawaii, the state he was born in, might look like a vacation in "some foreign, exotic place," but you, as an senior news analyst and political commentator for NPR and ABC, certainly know that we pay taxes to the same government as you.

Do those in the other forty-nine states really imagine that Hawaii is so foreign and exotic?

Yes, so foreign that we subsist on roots and grubs foraged from the wilds of Costco, Safeway and Wal-Mart. So exotic we dress in curious garbs from places like Old Navy and the Gap and, in lieu of paper currency, we do our stock trading with puka shells and garlands of bird feathers.

Forgive me but I must point out that Americans in "the heartland" and sophisticated members of the media do not emit so much as a peep when George W. Bush jets off to Crawford or John McCain to Arizona. Why then should it appear so odd that Senator Obama chooses to spend a week with his family in the town of his own birth?

Were Senator McCain to do the same thing, he would have to travel to Panama. Now, isn't that foreign!

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii to parents from Kansas and Kenya. He grew up in Honolulu and Indonesia and today represents the people of Illinois in the District of Columbia. In an age when internationalism is a given, it would seem advantageous to have a presidential candidate who has a eclectic, multi-cultural background, was raised in a world that was neither black nor white and who understands the subtleties and nuance of human culture and geography.

It would also seem that after eight years of the decidedly non-foreign and unexotic hayseed cowboy politics of George W. Bush, the media might recognize and even acknowledge that America has more depth than baseball, apple pie and golf at Myrtle Beach.

As we approach the 49th anniversary of the 50th state, I would like to think that you and all the other folks in Washington, New York and other remote provinces will get used to the fact that, for better or worse, the State of Hawaii is just that - a U.S. state.

From the 2nd Congressional District of Hawaii with aloha,

Jon Letman
Lihue, Hawaii

[Editor's Note: Cokie Roberts (born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs) is the daughter of former Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs, who was U.S. Majority Whip in the 1960's. Although a "liberal" in the media, it may be a culture of zenophobia in the old south has left its mark on impressionable Cockie. On the other hand, it may be that Cokie is akami to the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and is a secet sympathizer.]

see also:
Island Breath: Obama on Racism 3/20/08
Island Breath: Chaos at Kauai Caucus 1/20/08