Let’s hear it, southerners: Is Romney saying “bless his heart” about Obama a big deal?

posted at 9:21 pm on August 22, 2012 by Allahpundit

Via Ace and Twitchy, whose managing editors, Lori Ziganto and Jenn Taylor, are southern transplants and who seem palpably impressed that Mitt would “go there.” CBS reporter Jan Crawford calls this, half-jokingly I presume, “the ultimate dis.” Our own Mary Katharine Ham is a Durham, North Carolina native and would be able to settle this straightaway, but she’s unavailable right now; hopefully she’ll update my post or add one of her own to clarify.

Question for our southern readership, then, while we wait for the Hammer to chime in: How big an insult is this really? I’ve always understood it to be a gentle, almost pitying, but clearly condescending sort of jab, tantamount to “it’s precious how stupid you are.” But there must be more to it than that. Romney’s said flat out before that he doesn’t think Obama understands the economy, which is the gist of what he’s saying here too. The “bless his heart” thing obviously adds a bit more of a putdown oomph to it, enough so that southerners seem to think it’s an unusually potent shot, but I’m not getting it. What nuance am I missing? Should I be mentally substituting “President Doofus” for the BHH bit? Inquiring Yankee minds want to know. Frankly, Romney being Romney, he probably means “bless his heart” literally. Click the image to watch.

Update (MKH): Sorry to be chiming in late on this. My response is “meh.” “Bless his heart” is a catch-all phrase, used after a criticism, ostensibly to soften the blow rhetorically. It’s always slightly condescending, but can either denote real affection for the target (for an accident-prone child, for instance: “He’s always skinning his knees, bless his heart.) or derision, as it does in this case. This sounds like a continuation of Romney’s standard line about Obama not understanding the economy. If he’d lingered on “bless his heart” it would have come across more insulting. This just sounds like a surprisingly apt use of the phrase by a Northeasterner who’s comfortable with it. That being said, Touré will be calling it racist in 3, 2, 1.


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Nah, its spot on.

cozmo on August 22, 2012 at 9:23 PM

I’ve always understood it to be a gentle, almost pitying, but clearly condescending sort of jab, tantamount to “it’s precious how stupid you are.”

You understand correctly, sir.

SouthernGent on August 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

tantamount to “it’s precious how stupid you are.”

There you go again.

John the Libertarian on August 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

As a Southerner, I will confirm that “bless your heart” is just a very polite, sweet way of telling someone that they are dumb.

clayj on August 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Bless your heart, Allah. ;)

backwoods conservative on August 22, 2012 at 9:25 PM

LOVE IT

gophergirl on August 22, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Obama has a heart?

darwin on August 22, 2012 at 9:25 PM

We always took the Southern, “bless your heart” as a kind of English language version of “pendejo.”

john1schn on August 22, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Well, no offense to MK, but Durham is not the deep South. That aside, I’d say no offense taken.

MustLoveBlogs on August 22, 2012 at 9:26 PM

What nuance am I missing? Should I be mentally substituting “President Doofus” for the BHH bit?

That’s a hell of a lot nicer than I would be saying.

gsherin on August 22, 2012 at 9:26 PM

I believe Miranda Lambert said it best:

“Well, I’ve been saved by the grace of southern charm
I got a mouth like a sailor and yours is more like a Hallmark card If you wanna pick a fight, well, I’m gonna have to say goodnight
I don’t have to be hateful, I can just say, ‘Bless your heart’”

Let’s never forget, folks, we’re just like the Democrats. Only prettier.

radjah shelduck on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

SouthernGent on August 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Stop that!

Next thing you will be giving away other secrets.

You wanna’ be called Bennie Arnold when the south rises again?

cozmo on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

clayj on August 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

This Arkansan concurs.

Charlemagne on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

“Bless his heart” because he has no brain to bless?

Wethal on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

So it’s OK for the obozo campaign to claim Mitt’s a felon and kills women, but Mitt has crossed the line for saying “bless his heart”? This getting really bizarre.

Flange on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

According to Urban Dictionary it is an insult:

1. This is a term used by the people of the southern United States particularly near the Gulf of Mexico to express to someone that they are an idiot without saying such harsh words.

2. “You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I dont want to hurt your feelings.”

jonkk on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

It can also be interpreted as being naive.

darwin on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Durham is right down the street. So, from a 31 year old North Carolina resident. Romney tried, but he said “bless his heart” too fast. It needs to be slowed down. Just drip right out.

LoganSix on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Heh heh. Perfect way to refer to Obama.

JonPrichard on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Well it’s clearly racist.

Ampersand on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Lame excuse for a post. Perfectly executed use of the phrase.

BettyRuth on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Media: Let the distractions continue.

Bitter Clinger on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Should I be mentally substituting “President Doofus” for the BHH bit?

I can think of more appropriate substitutions, but I won’t spell them out here, for fear of being banned.

AZCoyote on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

C.mon, let’s just go to the pre-emptive “it’s racist” and get it over with.
That’s where the media hive is going within hours.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Southerner, here. “Bless his heart” is a put down, without a doubt.

It’s usually something that’s added when you want free license to rain fire from hell on someone’s head. For example: “Bless her heart, but Lisa is such a two-dollar whore who would sleep with any loser to get attention. Bless her heart.”

Claudin on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

No….it’s just Mitt once again copying off someone else in politics (Palin) euphemism and catchphrases against dolts.

journeymike on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

If only Obama had a brain..

Electrongod on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

You wanna’ be called Bennie Arnold when the south rises again?

When is right!

Charlemagne on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

jonkk on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

I’m a yankee but that’s what I’ve always thought it meant.

I have to admit – I use it every once in awhile. Still works even with a Minnesota accent.

gophergirl on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

*GASP!*

Oh no, he di’int!

Well, y’all gotta admit 0bama’s heart needs all the blessing it can get, and we all know what that means….

Sekhmet on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

As a yankee transplant in NC…. I’ve learned that “bless your heart” is polite speech reserved to describe the intellectually challenged.

SteveInRTP on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

As long as the heart is sufficiently blessed, the insult isn’t all that bad. In this case it is used to point out something dumb.

sandspur on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

“moronic tyrant” wouldn’t play well at the rallies…

hillsoftx on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

You want to know what bless your heart means? Here’s an explanation from a Dallas area commercial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BfqouJvpCk

parteagirl on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

pendejos

john1schn on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

I’ve always understood it to be a gentle, almost pitying, but clearly condescending sort of jab, tantamount to “it’s precious how stupid you are.”

Yes sir, you are correct. A very pitying way to say, do you ride the short bus alllllllll the time or only when you open your mouth. And ALWAYS said with a smile on ones face….

sicoit on August 22, 2012 at 9:29 PM

I’ve always understood it to be a gentle, almost pitying, but clearly condescending sort of jab, tantamount to “it’s precious how stupid you are.”

Ok, I’m not getting it. To me this is blatantly obvious.

My wife’s favorite..’It’s so cute how stupid you are’….She’s from Chicago…

BigWyo on August 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

As thin- skinned as Obama reportedly is, I’m sure it’s being taken as a much more serious insult than it’s usually meant to be.

Dukeboy01 on August 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Obama says “teabaggers,” his surrogates call Romney a felon and imply that he’s “weird” because of his Mormonism, and show video of “Paul Ryan” throwing a grandmother off a cliff, but “bless his heart” is beyond the pale? OK then…

El Dillo on August 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

“Bless his heart” is southern for “What an idiot.”

Yep – that fits.

beatcanvas on August 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

I guess I shouldn’t assume no yanks know when I am mocking them.

MechanicalBill on August 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Yeah he insulted Obama…I’m a Border State, and we’d see this for what it is….

JFKY on August 22, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Jeeze, no wonder the south lost.

A purty lipped yankee flatters y’all and next thing ya’ know, y’all are blabbering teenagers squelin’ like piglets and spillin’ all the secrets.

cozmo on August 22, 2012 at 9:31 PM

mitts timing is way off. but i give him credit for at least saying it.

i’m starting to dislike southerners.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

I’m reminded of a comedian I saw years back. You can say whatever you want about anything or anyone as long as you say “bless it’s heart”.

“That’s an ugly baby… bless it’s heart”.

It’s acknowledgment of something not good, but it’s not the fault of the bearer of the burden.

Mitt should drop the phrase.

Hog Wild on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

I always took it as “he can’t help the way God made him, so you can’t blame him”. (And we all know 0dumbo won’t take the blame for anything.)

Sasha List on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Frankly, Romney being Romney, he probably means “bless his heart” literally.

Probably. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

SailorMark on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

It is obviously racist…I mean racist racist not just legitimate racist. So, yeah, it’s spot on.

d1carter on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

He said it in Iowa but, yes, bless his heart is a southern jab. Particularly when addressed about a rat-eared bastard of no particular faith.

Happy Nomad on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

No….it’s just Mitt once again copying off someone else in politics (Palin) euphemism and catchphrases against dolts.

journeymike on August 22, 2012 at 9:28 PM

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone tried to make this about her. As if Romney is recording her every word, I guess?

changer1701 on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

I’ve always understood it to be a gentle, almost pitying, but clearly condescending sort of jab, tantamount to “it’s precious how stupid you are.”

That’s how I understand it, but I’ve only lived in North Carolina and Virginia as a transplant.

Well, no offense to MK, but Durham is not the deep South. That aside, I’d say no offense taken.

MustLoveBlogs on August 22, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Well, NC is south of the Mason-Dixon line, but, yeah, it isn’t the Deep South. She’s the only southerner on the HA staff, so we’ll take what we can get!

conservative pilgrim on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

As a transplant to the south, I think I can say that in this case “Bless his heart” means that, while Obama is trying, he’s clearly in over his head.

It’s a gentle way of stating the obvious: that JugEars is a total SCOAMF.

pain train on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Well, at times,I will say,Bless his little heart,
and so,don’t really see a problem!!

canopfor on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

“bless his heart” is the verbal equivalent of a condescending, even pitying, pat on the head. It’s very much an insult, insinuating an eager, but sad incompetence that may verge on stupid.

blackgriffin on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

I’d translate it as: “Poor guy can’t help it/ doesn’t know any better.”

That said, when I was young, my very small-town Southern grandma used (and still uses) “bless his heart” as sincerely as humanly possible about people she loved. Sadly, she’s about the only one left who does.

DavidW on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

If you really want to throw a transplanted Yankee (Yan-kay) for a loop, say something like, “That’s interesting. Why would you say that?”

SouthernGent on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

So, it’s like Joey Tribbiani being told “you’re so pretty”?

KateNE on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Well, bless your heart…LOL.

d1carter on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

He actually seemed sincere. I don’t think he really meant it southern style which would basically be like saying he is fracking incompetent and stupid but he tried.

Southernblogger on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

when i lived up north everybody said eff you. i knew what that meant. this whole bless your heart business threw me off at the start. thought it was sincere.

i’ll take an eff you any day. plus no one use to ask me what church i went to.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Well, NC is south of the Mason-Dixon line, but, yeah, it isn’t the Deep South. She’s the only southerner on the HA staff, so we’ll take what we can get!

conservative pilgrim on August 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

I’ll agree with that, cp.

MustLoveBlogs on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Bless his heart is just a southern polite way of saying “he’s an idiot” or “he’s got no chance and doesn’t know it”. Its meant to be a polite way to deliver a harsh message, but in way, shape or form can it be a positive. Its always a put down.

smorrow66 on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

He needed a little more inflection on “bless his heart”. It’s usually said after a short pause…”President Obama,,,,bless his heart,,,is really trying…

You get the idea.

But I think everyone got the point anyway.

Nicely done!

ccrosby on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

i’m starting to dislike southerners.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Bless your heart.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

i’m starting to dislike southerners.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Bless your heart, ain’t you special.

Here, have a cookie while you wait for the short bus.

cozmo on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Well, bless your heart…LOL.

d1carter on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Thread winner!

gophergirl on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

“Bless your heart” means “Where are the jobs?”

faraway on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

It is what you say when you are in polite company and you feel really sorry for how pitiful/pathetic someone is, but don’t want those around you to think you are rude or un-Christian.

txmomof6 on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

I hear the redneck Dog whistle here in Possum Holler,

What Romney was saying was that we are right to hate Obama because he is black.

Wwwwwwwweeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww.

PappyD61 on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Not a native Southerner, but I lived in Texas for several years growing up.

My take is it’s somewhat less of an insult than Obama surreptitiously giving someone the bird on camera.

malclave on August 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

I mean, it’s clearly racist. C’mon.

/

RedNewEnglander on August 22, 2012 at 9:36 PM

“Bless his heart” is just a patronizing way of saying “He’s an idiot”.

SoulGlo on August 22, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Yes, its the ultimate dis / show of pity from Southern grandmothers. For instance, if I were watching a neighborhood swim meet with my mema, and one of the kids got on the dive block, started crying about how he was afraid of the water, and then peed himself in front of the entire crowd, she would say something like “Bless his heart, I guess he was meant to be a runner.”

Lawdawg86 on August 22, 2012 at 9:36 PM

i’m starting to dislike southerners.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Well now you know how EVERYONE here feels about your dumb a$$.

BigWyo on August 22, 2012 at 9:36 PM

AP, you do need to get out of the city more. Spent 5 years in Columbia, SC during the Confederate Battle Flag kerfluffle (NJ native). It is a nasty put down by sweet little old ladies. Politeness still matters in the South. But there is all the nastiness of Yankees – Red Sox.

Oh, and Mets and Jets don’t matter, bless your heart.

rbj on August 22, 2012 at 9:36 PM

You can actually mean bless your heart sincerely if you are empathizing with someone but given this context I think we can equate The Won’s intelligence as dumber than a box of rocks. We might want to be kind and limit it to his knowledge of economics but after four years I am disinclined to cut him any slack.

Cindy Munford on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Let’s hear it, southerners: Is Romney saying “bless his heart” about Obama a big deal?

It’s not a big deal as it’s appropriate. It’s a big deal Romney said it.

Bravo!

rukiddingme on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

“Bless his heart…” = “He’s a blathering idiot, but since I can’t say that… he’s trying but God bless him, he’s still an idiot!”

UnderstandingisPower on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

I’m not even a southerner and I know what it means. It means you are incompetent, but you did your best. Like someone with two left thumbs trying to pound in a nail. Well they did manage to hit the nail anyway.

VorDaj on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Southern girl, born and bred, weighing in. This is a phrase that I use often. It is a “polite insult” questioning someone’s intelligence. Being from the “Hospitality State”, it is a way for us to be snarky while still sounding sympathetic!

mechsec on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

So it’s OK for the obozo campaign to claim Mitt’s a felon and kills women, but Mitt has crossed the line for saying “bless his heart”? This getting really bizarre.

Flange on August 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Come on..Mitt could burp and it would be the story of the day..or have some racist connotation applied.

bazil9 on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Funny, Sarah Palin said it a couple of times last night on Greta, referring to Akin. Maybe Mitt picked it up from her!

Brat on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

I live in Texas and hear that phrase fairly regularly.

Sometimes, it is a form of backhanded support, or a damning with faint praise (or open dissing depending on how open you are with such opinions) of our own understated vernacular. But not always.

Sometimes, especially amongst older people, it is a legitimately sympathetic expression.

And still other times, it is a restrained, sarcastic manifestation of the latter form, kind of like saying, “well, I’ll be dog,” when in fact you are not surprised at all but you are not openly mocking the target.

Who knew we are so complicated down here?

Blacksheep on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

LOL …..well they way I have heard it used most often would go something like this ….My brother Billy Jo …. well he’s a nice man and everything but bless his heart he can’t tie his own damned shoes ….and I don’t know about everywhere else but in Texas its a pitying kinda There but for the grace of God go I or yep that ole boy is dumber than a box of hammers ….bless his heart….yep its a shot …if obama was there Romney might just as well been patting him on the head and giving him a quarter and telling him now don’t you worry your little head over this ….let the grown ups take care of it

Aggie95 on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

I guess I shouldn’t assume no yanks know when I am mocking them.

MechanicalBill on August 22, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Nope, you shouldn’t. Some of us yanks married southern girls and picked up a few things. Although since we’re pretty sharp up here, the occasion to use such a remark rarely comes up.

Lost in Jersey on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Frankly, Romney being Romney, he probably means “bless his heart” literally.

Frankly, it seems to me more like Romney ripping off Palin.

ddrintn on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

I am a Southern girl, born and raised in SC & now live in AL. So I can say that you are totally correct, sugah.

A good friend once told me “I could shout a parade of Yankee-style expletives in your face and it wouldn’t be nearly as bitchy as bless your heart.” ;-)

Jomama on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

“Bless your heart” is how southerners, especially southern women, get away with saying the nastiest things about people in polite company.

It’s also sort of like a mathematical equation: Whether or not it’s a “big deal” depends mainly on what comes after it.

“Bless his heart – he tries, doesn’t he?”

or

“Bless his heart – he’s a jug-eared stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable failure, isn’t he?”

Small deal… big deal ;)

greggriffith on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

i’ll take an eff you any day. plus no one use to ask me what church i went to.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

They tried to catch a comet a few years back and you missed your bus???

What do I win???

BigWyo on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

My dad spent a year working in Georgia and said that southern women could be some of the most mean, viscious gossips he’d ever met, but it was all done in a syrupy sweet tone and all was forgiven if you ended a rant about someone with “bless his/her heart”.

That said, Romney’s not from the south, so, it probably doesn’t do much good to ask a southerner how a southerner uses the term.

You need to ask a new englander (or is he a rust belter) how they use the term. My guess is that it’s imitation southern and it’s not meant to be a compliment but it doesn’t have quite the same teeth to it that a southerner would have intended.

So, something more along the lines of “He’s completely screwed everything up, but, he means well.”

JadeNYU on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

It is meant to convey pity. As in you are pathetic.

Terrye on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

i’m starting to dislike southerners.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

In public we SOUTHERNERS will say, wellllll, bleeesssss yourrrr heeeaaarrrrttttt with a smile. But on the blogs, we tend to say EFF YOU JACKAZZ! Ahem, please excuse me while I go powda my nose y’all. Ahem.

sicoit on August 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Yeah he insulted Obama…I’m a Border State, and we’d see this for what it is….

JFKY on August 22, 2012 at 9:31 PM

You’re a border state?

But yeah. “Bless his heart” is clear in the parts of the country that Obama ignores because they reliably anti-everything Obama represents.

Happy Nomad on August 22, 2012 at 9:39 PM

I think it’s a way to slam a carpet-bagger without him realizing it.

faraway on August 22, 2012 at 9:39 PM

I’m not a southerner, but I spent a number of years in Dallas.

It’s not an insult per se. It’s more an expression of regret about how stupid someone is.

jaime on August 22, 2012 at 9:39 PM

Funny, Sarah Palin said it a couple of times last night on Greta, referring to Akin. Maybe Mitt picked it up from her!

Brat on August 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Yeah, she’s used the phrase a few times already.

ddrintn on August 22, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Frankly, Romney being Romney, he probably means “bless his heart” literally.

Southerner here from Goldsboro, NC…

It’s all in the tone of delivery and having watched it live, I didn’t even catch this line.

So yeah, I’d say it was just Romney being Romney…

The Ugly American on August 22, 2012 at 9:40 PM

i’m starting to dislike southerners.

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Cool, then you want be another transplant. We have met our quota.

bazil9 on August 22, 2012 at 9:40 PM

well bless romneys heart

night y’all!

:)

renalin on August 22, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Actually , I believe there’s a Dixie to Jersey translation book; “Bless your heart” comes out as ‘Up Your A**’.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 22, 2012 at 9:40 PM

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