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Barack Obama needs to comparison shop for his arugula

Last summer while campaigning in Iowa, Barack Obama told voters in the farm state: "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula? I mean, they're charging a lot of money for this stuff."

The comment was one of those that the Democratic presidential candidate probably wishes he had kept to himself -- it got ridiculed at the time, and periodically gets recycled by critics as a sign that Obama is an out-of-touch elitist (an image he perpetuated with his remarks about bitter attitudes in small-town America). A comment Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made in Iowa last summer about the price of arugula has continued to resonate on the campaign trail

Maybe, though, when it comes to his greens, Obama's just not a savvy shopper.

Times copy editor Jim Buzinski reports that at the 99 Cents Only store in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles, he recently bought an 11-ounce tub of pre-washed, organic baby arugula for ... 99 cents.

It's hard to get any less elitist than shopping at 99 Cents Only stores, so perhaps Obama should stock up the next time he's in Southern California.

The next task for our colleague Buzinski: find some cheap gasoline.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/L.A. Times

Comments () | Archives (4)

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Yeah, like there is something good about eating foods from the .99 cent store as opposed to shopping at Whole Foods, Gelson, and other higher-end stores.

For the life of me, I don't know why folks obsess with every little comment and create a cartoon character of an elitist, arugula eating, latte-drinking intellectual who is out of touch with ordinary Americans. What a joke!

Please read even one chapter of either of Obama's two books about his life. He's the only authentic 'real' person running in this race! In reality, he's 180 degrees from the cartoon: he grew up poor, grew up black in a white family, grew up as a have -not in a private school wtih kids who had-lots.

Let's have a little honesty here, OK? I know the media feeds off these cartoon-like images of candidates, and salivates over every poor word choice, but our poitical process deserves better.

Hear, hear Rosie! It's bad enough to see FOX, CNN, and others promoting a politics of distraction that seizes on stupid tiny details and magnifies them immensely, without having the LA Times lower itself to that level. You're exactly right that Obama is by far the least "elite" person running (Clinton and McCain are from much wealthier, more privileged backgrounds). Tom Tomorrow had a great cartoon on this theme called "The Elitist Menace" last week. Panel 3 shows two journalists under the heading "HIghly-Paid Media Professionals remain AGHAST at Obama's poor choice of an adjective that one time." One journalist says: "It's like I was saying to my chauffeur this morning--Obama just doesn't understand real Americans as well as we highly paid media professionals do!" Another agrees "My household staff concurs!" I would love it if the media would stop manufacturing stupid distractions and report on things that really matter. OUr democracy deserves better, as Rosie says.

a related item titled, 'a barack obama forum can seem a lot like class, without the bell' was featured on the topic in this blog on april 25, posted by malcmol, signed mccormick. 'arugula is the common pepper and mustard flavored green also known as rocket. it's used in many salads and as a sandwich condiment, a good substitute if you can't find watercress. and it's available at most american farmers' markets, as well as most gourmet markets. to turn your common kitchen green into something 'upscale' for you could seem like a worthwhile lecture for someone trying to see if you buy it, and to get a laugh out of you as obama's campaign takes off on spicy hot air.'
the price at which arugula sells is rather irrelevant. it is the value people attribute to things like freedom, integrity, peace, responsibility, respect of self and others that matters: it is if and when they understand that things that matter most can never be bought, and can only be 'sold' in return for slavery and misery, that they can be expected to gain some relevant insight into the various aspects of social organization, including economy and fiscal responsibility; as long as people will tolerate being robbed in a big way, and even being deprived of their unalienable rights in return for cheap fake handouts and empty promises, they clearly haven't. fiscal and economic stability cannot be had without (constitutional) fiscal integrity. and to discuss the price of a green without that context, is just one more sidetracking maneuver; whether your dollar is worth a dollar, a dime or a cent.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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