Made in Kenya

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 30 2010 12:14 PM

Made in Kenya

Another week, another piece of data proving that myths about Barack Obama are no longer out-of-bounds in the midterm campaigns. At the big FreedomWorks rally on Friday night, Morgan Philpot, who's challenging Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah's one Democratic-held congressional district, gave a freewheeling and mostly serious speech introducing himself to activists. He told one joke about the political and economic wisdom of one of his sons.

"I remember he was walking around and he was reading things saying, 'Made in China. Made in China,'" said Philpot. "And he came to me and my wife and said, 'Why is everything is made in China?' We looked at each other and said we have a smart kid on our hands. It worried us one day, though, when he came up to our infant son -- you know how they get that bald spot on their heads? -- and he goes, 'Made in China!'"

Advertisement

Big laugh. The punchline: "What I'm wondering is if you shave the back of the president's head, what does it say 'Made in' there?" Much bigger laugh.

There were a couple of ways to read this joke. You could read it as a sad comment on America's increasing trade deficit, or on the amount of debt China now owns. Or you could read it as a goof on the never-dying theory that Obama was born outside of the United States -- the theory Obama commented on just yesterday . I double-checked with Philpot after his speech.

"You know about how people don't believe he was born in the U.S.?" he said. "So on his head, would it say made in Kenya or made in the U.S.? That was the joke!"

I didn't get the sense Philpot himself doubts Obama was born here or thinks much about this, but I thought it was interesting that after all of the carping of Democrats and pundits, this is still considered -- correctly -- solid joke material. My bet is that it will continue as long as Obama as unpopular. Side bet: If Obama is defeated in 2012, the idea that he wasn't born in the United States will become more widely accepted.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 1:11 PM This Company Wants to Fight World Hunger With Flies 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 1:01 PM Can Activists Save Reyhaneh Jabbari?  
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 1:13 PM The Essence of Gender Roles in Action Movies, in One Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.