Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The Jolt: On eating while red, blue, black, gay or Trumpish


Restaurants have become the new bumper sticker.

You know that on Friday evening, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the face of the Trump administration and most recently, its convoluted family separation crisis, was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant last night.

The Washington Post had a quick interview with Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Va.:

She knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.

And she knew — she believed — that Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked in the service of an “inhumane and unethical” administration. That she publicly defended the president’s cruelest policies, and that that could not stand.

President Donald Trump weighed in this morning – you had to know that Twitter storm was coming:

The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!

Something larger is happening here. Breaking bread together – humanity’s oldest form of diplomacy – this weekend became a political statement. And it’s related to our growing tendency to self-segregate, not just according to race, but by political philosophy as well.

“Landslide counties” is the term used by political scientists. An ancient (2017) passage from David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight.com:

More than 61 percent of voters cast ballots in counties that gave either [Hillary] Clinton or Trump at least 60 percent of the major-party vote last November. That’s up from 50 percent of voters who lived in such counties in 2012 and 39 percent in 1992 — an accelerating trend that confirms that America’s political fabric, geographically, is tearing apart.

This makes it easier to be arrested for sitting at Starbucks or disputing a Waffle House bill while being black. Or on Friday, while being Trumpish.

But long before the Red Hen, there was Chik-fil-A, the Atlanta-based fast food giant. Only a few weeks ago, we had this from the New York Post:

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was raked over the coals for eating at Chick-fil-A during Pride Month, because of the fast-food chain owner’s opposition to gay marriage.

Dorsey ruffled feathers when he posted about the 10 percent discount he got by using the fast-food chain’s app at one of its Los Angeles outposts.

Plucky users on his own social media site were quick to remind Dorsey that Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy is a known critic of gay marriage, saying in 2012 that his eatery supported “the biblical definition of the family unit” and that marriage equality was “inviting God’s judgment” on the US.

The description was somewhat dated. Chik-fil-A reached an accommodation with some LGBT leaders after that 2012 boycott. And the Cathy family activity in the political sphere has been neutralized, at least at the state Capitol, by its investment in Pinewood Studios – a Fayette County operation highly vulnerable to Hollywood sensitivities about LGBT rights.

So it wasn’t that much of a surprise on Sunday night to see a Facebook note from Jamie Ensley of Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, an LBGT group, focusing not on the Red Hen, but Chik-fil-A:

“The Georgia Log Cabin Republicans SUPPORT Atlanta based Chick-fil-A and demands an end to liberal bullying. Chick-fil-A has always been welcoming and has never refused service to the LGBT community.”

Ensley served as treasurer of the Mary Norwood campaign for mayor of Atlanta last year. I called him this morning.

I asked him about the Red Hen, of course. He didn’t like what happened to Sanders. Many conservatives have noted the parallel to the Colorado baker at the center of the recent SCOTUS decision, and Ensley was no different.

“The bakery people didn’t not kick them out of the store. They refused to make a cake. They probably would have sold them cupcakes,” he said.

Ensley also repeated what was posted on the group’s Facebook page, but what he said next will probably generate some comment: “The war is over. We’ve won,” he said. LGBT objectives such as marriage equality have been achieved. I pointed out that groups like Georgia Equality are still fighting for anti-discrimination protection in the state Capitol. Ensley said that discrimination in the workplace and housing was largely a by-gone thing.

“As a result, we’re going to be operating as more like a traditional Republican organization,” Ensley said, quoting Ronald Reagan’s notation that an 80 percent friend is worth sticking to.

And so the group’s support for Chik-fil-A.

***

The Trump administration’s trade policy toward China has largely been aimed at stopping what it calls the massive intellectual poaching of Western business practices. Farmers fear a commodity backlash. In an op-ed in USA Today this morning, former Georgia governor and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tries to wed the two:

 In 2011, a group of Chinese nationals dug up genetically engineered seeds from an Iowa corn field and planned to steal and send them back to China, so they could be reverse engineered. Those seeds, the result of years of research and millions of dollars of American investment, now stand as one of countless pieces of evidence in the case against China for intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices.

Now, President Donald Trump is standing up to China, which wrongly believes it can bully our farmers to get America to back away from defending our national interests. The president understands that our farmers feed, fuel and clothe this nation and the world, and he will not allow U.S. agriculture to bear the brunt of China’s retaliatory tactics.

***

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor, joined the Pod Save America podcast a few days ago in Atlanta, and played a game with the show’s hosts that poked fun at her two Republican opponents:

The first question asked a guest from the crowd to answer what a secret recording of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle captured him admitting.

Among the wrong answers: “He privately thinks the Falcons suck and that peaches taste bad,” “Outkast is overrated,” and “an ageless seashell” told him to avoid expanding Medicaid.

The second focused on what Secretary of State Brian Kemp did in a controversial ad.

Again, the wrong answers: “Painted the word Obamacare on a school bus and pushed it into the Chattahoochee River,” or “challenged Casey to skip the voting and settle this in the Octagon.”

***

On the endorsement bandwagon:

-- Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s campaign is not exactly shouting this from the rooftop, but he recently received the endorsement of former rival Michael Williams. The state senator, who finished in last place in last month’s GOP primary, spoke at an event for Kemp over the weekend. There’s a reason Kemp’s campaign is not trumpeting his support. Williams’ campaign became a favorite target of Democrats and Republicans for a series of campaign blunders as he finished with 5 percent of the vote, finishing last even in his home county.

-- Casey Cagle, a Republican candidate in the July primary runoff for governor, hosts business executive and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes this morning at a business roundtable.

-- David Shafer sends word that the Police Benevolent Association of Georgia has endorsed him in his Republican primary runoff for lieutenant governor. The organization has 13,000 members statewide.

***

Sally Yates has been tapped to lead an independent investigation into Minneapolis police officers. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the former acting attorney general and longtime Georgia attorney -- who recently rejoined King & Spalding, her former Atlanta firm -- will examine whether the cops there “crossed a line and urged paramedics to inject members of the public with ketamine, a powerful sedative.”


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