Observations On The Hillary/de Blasio “CPT” Skit Uproar

beaver-crushed-by-his-own-treeOut of trivial occurrences  enlightenment may flow.

In a skit last weekend in the Inner Circle show, annual charity event put on by the New York press corps to roast the Mayor, Hillary Clinton joined de Blasio as a surprise guest and chided him for delaying his endorsement of her presidential campaign.

“Thanks for the endorsement. Took you long enough,” Clinton said

“Sorry, Hillary. I was running on C.P. Time,” de Blasio replied. Little gasps were heard in the audience, for C.P. Time, more correctly “CPT”—you know, like EST?—means “Colored People Time,” referring to the alleged proclivity of African American and Hispanics to have a casual regard for punctuality.

Black “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in the hit musical, was on stage as part of the skit, and admonished the  mayor, saying, “I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”

Hillary then intervened and said, “Cautious Politician Time. I’ve been there.”

I’ll let you compose yourself after the that hilarious joke before continuing.

OK, now? Good.

The use of “CPT’ immediately caused a wave of criticism on social media, especially from African Americans. Reporters, at the event and afterwards, were a bit sluggish to catch on, because many of them didn’t know the term (and didn’t get the intended joke.) I do know the term: it was taught to me by African American and Hispanic colleagues long, long ago. I have never heard a white person use it in my presence.

The Bernie Sanders campaign quickly saw an opportunity and accused Clinton of intentionally using a racist slur. The political correctness brigade in the progressive ranks came down almost as hard on de Blasio and Clinton as they would have if the skit participants were Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Conservative bloggers and pundits found the spectacle of de Blasio and Clinton being attacked for political incorrectness delicious, and gloated.

What’s going on here?


1. The joke wasn’t racist. It wouldn’t have been racist if Republicans had performed the skit, either. The device of misleading an audience into thinking someone has broken a taboo by saying something outrageous and then revealing that the audience had leapt to the wrong conclusion is a classic genre of joke. Mike Huckabee employed this in his final statement at the first Republican Presidential Candidates debate, when he said, as Donald Trump could be seen on camera fuming…

“It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern. A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead…and, of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.”

2. It was certainly predictable that such a joke would be vulnerable to attack in this period where the perpetually offended are eager and lying in wait to pounce on any statement that could be considered “racially insensitive” no matter how tortured the rationale required to reach that conclusion.

3. The episode proves that Democrats realize there is a double standard and count on it to inoculate them against criticism for words and statements that they know would immerse Republicans in full scale scandals. De Blasio, married to a black woman, assumed that he could safely walk the racial edginess tightrope without ever being accused of racism. Clinton takes the knee-jerk good will of the black Democratic base for granted. Both have not been paying sufficient attention (Hillery and Bill should touch base with each other now and then). .The African American and Hispanic sense of entitlement, extortion and power has become a phenomenon with its own momentum, with city police departments reluctant to do their jobs, liberal universities submitting to absurd demands for special treatment for “students of color,” and once-revered figures like Bill Clinton being confronted by Black Lives Matter. Democrats let this genie out of the bottle, and it is turning on them. Good. They deserve it.

5. Hillary and de Blasio have fostered a supporter base that is humorless, relentless, merciless, and unsophisticated….all the better to mislead them and keep them focused on hating “the enemy.” Then the candidate and the mayor expected these same social justice plodders to comprehend an amateurishly performed joke about the tendency to assume offense too quickly!  

4. The left-biased media is trying to mark conservatives and Republicans as hypocrites for enjoying this episode so much. It is not hypocrisy. The term the that  applies is  Shakespeare’s “hoisted by his own petard.”  Progressives and Democrats nurtured a culture where careers and reputations can be exploded by a single and innocent miscalculation. Seeing two heroes of the left metaphorically dangling high in the air with one foot in a snare of their own construction is cause for legitimate mockery. This is what George Will calls “condign justice.”

5. The excuses offered by Clinton and de Blasio were worse than the incident. De Blaiso’s explanation was that”It was clearly a staged show. It was a scripted show and the whole idea was to do the counter-intuitive and say, ‘cautious politician time.’ How does the fact that the skit was scripted change his accountability for reading the script? First, nobody thought that the skit was improvised, and second, is a politician really using that “I didn’t write the words that came out of my mouth” excuse?

Hillary, meanwhile, blamed everything on de Blasio! “Well, look, it was Mayor de Blasio’s skit. He has addressed it, and I will really defer to him because it is something that he’s already talked about,” Clinton told Cosmopolitan.  

Again, she voluntarily participated in the skit. She is accountable for her own actions, except that Hillary Clinton never accepts responsibility for her own actions. Aren’t you glad you endorsed her, Mayor?

29 thoughts on “Observations On The Hillary/de Blasio “CPT” Skit Uproar

  1. Jack, I am confused by your numbering system. I have never heard the term CPT. In Ohio, where i am from, we always use the term BPT black people time. I have never known it to include all people of color.

  2. Why does Hillary try to be funny? She’s just terrible at it.

    You know though, Bill would have been able to rock that joke.

    • “Why does Hillary try to be funny?” Great question Beth. And de Blasio is even more wooden than she is.

      I doubt anyone could “rock” that joke. It’s just not that funny. I can’t imagine Bob Hope even being able to pull it off. Nor can I see Chris Rock trying to.

  3. Honestly: Jack, I think I’m older than you (but not sure about that), but I have NEVER ONCE heard or even read that term. (CPT?) I might have heard a different acronym for intolerable lack of punctuality, in the same theme of time zones – SWT – for Standard Wash-out Time (applied to military trainees). But of course, nowadays, such microaggressions are “unprofessional.”

    • Well, I guess I could have made my comment a little more compelling, if I had bothered to say how much “CPT” I have experienced in my lifetime. I am not talking about being “differently punctual;” I’m talking about how much time I have spent in the intimate company of “those people.” Maybe the specimens of “those people” around me have always been too polluted by Uncle Tom-ism to have ever been so differently punctual. Gawd.

  4. I had heard it. In Undergraduate, I often took courses in fiction, and we had an older black gentleman named Arthur Flowers who taught those classes. He always showed up 15-20 minutes late, and said he always arrived on CPT time. All the black students would laugh, all the white students would sit there not knowing whether or not we were allowed to think it was funny. Arthur Flowers just roared when I pointed out that fact.

  5. Since we no longer talk about the “colored people,” I’m going to leave “CPT” to those who can laugh when they say it, just as use of “nigger” is off-limits to whites but not blacks.

    • Correct. Still dumb. I can’t believe Clinton and de Blasio weren’t called out on this. Where’s the BLM person who berated the white kid for not washing his hair and wearing dreadlocks? Where are the accusations of cultural appropriation?

  6. Well, if it is to be ‘LPT’ (Latino People Time) it is a real issue. Totally and absolutely real. Real as anything.

    Most acculturated (into American habits) Latinos will learn quick not to show up late for a meeting with a gringo. Five minutes late, okay. Much longer is insulting.

    It is more complex than it appears (in Latin America) since if everyone tends to be late, and it is because someone was late to the first one, and it is a cascade effect.

    Latinos also tend to block the sidewalks when walking. Sometimes a whole family will be out walking, including the abuela and 5-6 little ones, and everyone has to go slooooooow. But they all tend to walk in a line and are oblivious to people having to try to get by. I’ve seen it 1000 times.

    It is really annoying when you get accustomed to gringo-ways to go back to Latin America and note all these inefficient tendencies. It is not so much inconsiderateness, but rather obliviousness.

    (Obviously, telling white folk that they have to get used to ‘CPT’ is a form of resistance.)

    • When I ran a project at the US Chamber of Commerce regarding Hispanic business promotion and development, a recurring issue raised by the Hispanics on my committee was the cultural resistance to punctuality as a value. It is a real thing, but it is a real thing that whites and white policy-makers are not supposed to recognize or speak about.

      • Jack: This is where I think the ethical integrity of applying the Golden Rule, in combination with acting without reliance on Rationalization #57 (in combination with your newest Rationalization 58), get put to the other-than-American-culture test. What’s a gringo to do in non-gringoland? Deliberately and chronically be tardy, “doing as the Romans, when in Rome?”

        What about when the sombrero is on the other cabesa? (Apologies for the Mexican stereotype (that is sarcasm), and for my awkward adaptation of the saying “when the shoe is on the other foot.”) Do Hispanics and Hispanic policy-makers deliberately and reciprocally not recognize or speak about the “real thing” of the gringos’ punctuality, and insistence on same, for meetings and such, doing as the non-Romans do when not in Rome? Or is there some overriding ethical mix-of-cultures imperative that resolves all of this conflict between cultural punctuality versus cultural tardiness?

  7. Long as we’re making a list, please include Navajo Time. Generally, 15-30 minutes later than anybody else’s time.

  8. Three things:

    Like you, I thought a “petard” was a snare or even a gibbet. It’s actually an explosive device, so the saying is actually about someone blowing themselves up. The metaphor works just as well either way, but I thought I would clarify that point for future reference.

    “CPT” or “colored people time” is a term, as a lifelong southerner, I have never heard uttered or explained. One would think us genetic racists down here in Dixie would be hip to all the racial pejoratives in existence. To me, this sounds like an early attempt at a politically correct joke from north of the Mason-Dixon that is way past its prime.

    I like the word, “schadenfreude” for the way some conservatives are reacting to this affair. You can’t blame them, it is exactly the kind of political dick-stumble worthy of mockery.

  9. I heard earlier this week about JST (Jewish Standard Time), which is precisely fifteen minutes earlier than the scheduled time. Our propensity to slice and dice and put everything into categories is a peculiar thing. We do it for people, animals, plants, minerals, businesses, and even things as boundless as time. As peculiar as it is, I believe it is necessary for effective communication. And, while it may be culturally insensitive, I argue that CPT, Navaho Time, Cuban Time, Brazil Time, and “living in a different time-space continuum” (a reference to a supposedly brilliant architect with whom I once had to work), are all merely excuses for poor planning and disrespect for the time and lives of others. Accepting, condoning, and promoting tardiness, giving it a cute name, and calling it culturally appropriate is unethical. It’s as if Clinton and de Blasio were saying, “It’s okay, colored people do it.”

    • Well said. One of the problems with using synechdoches in communication–and we often use them for complex topics–is the danger of being misunderstood. My wife is a master of the indefinite pronoun, expecting me to know what this, that, he she or they she is talking about at the moment. The beauty of “Let’s get the country moving again” is that the hearers all have different ideas what’s needed to get moving.

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