Bad Sign? “Obama Just Loves Refried Beans”

Will County business owner defends "satirical" sign

It's fair to say that more than a few heads turn when they drive down East 9th Street in Lockport, IL. Richard Tisch, the owner of Will County Loan Company, has a reputation for putting edgy political messages on the sign outside his business.

For instance, several years ago, when Bill Clinton was in office, his sign read "Hillary's Health Plan: Free Condoms for Wild Bill."

But his latest sign has also caused a bit of a stir. The sign reads "Obama just loves refried beans," in reference to the president's appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Tisch calls his latest message "political satire."

"Some people, for instance the sign that's up there today, like to put a racial issue there. That's not what it's intended to do. I'm simply saying that Barack Obama is probably the smartest politician to hold the office, but he made a decision based on politics and not what's best for the country," Tisch told via phone.

Tisch, who admits he's no Obama fan, says the Sotomayor appointment was made to "buy the Mexican vote," because "she's not the best qualified person to do the job."

And Tisch says he chooses the targets for his satire equally. Back in October when Sen. John McCain raised the issue of border security with Mexico, Tisch posted a sign that said "John McCain just loves refried beans."

It makes one wonder what Sotomayor would think if she saw the sign. After all, she's of Puerto Rican descent, not Mexican. "Obama loves Arroz Con Pollo" might have been more accurate from Tisch's perspective.

Tisch stops short of claiming that some of his best friends are Mexican, but he did say that thousands of his customers are, and they think he's the "greatest guy in the country." His daughter-in-law, who gained her citizenship when his son married her, also doesn't object to the sign. He does admit to getting some anonymous calls and messages objecting to the sign, but he says numerous people stop daily at his business just to tell him how much they like it.

"I had a woman who called me this morning who wanted to put a racial issue on that, and I reminded her that last June I had on the sign, 'My choice for President? Dr. Condoleeza Rice,'" Tisch said. "People read the signs, but they never forget the ones they don't like."

"It's not against the Mexican people. It's only if you choose to read it that way."

So is the sign harmless political satire? Tisch certainly believes his statements are just his way of trying to get his point out there. But as we've seen all too often in the past, when you combine the issues of race, stereotypes and politics in America, it's always potentially combustible.

So what are your thoughts on Tisch's reasoning for the sign? Post your comments below.

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