Inappropriate ain't innit!
By Jason DeParle
Chip Saltsman, a candidate to lead the G.O.P., distributed a song to potential supporters called “Barack the Magic Negro,” a parody that questions Barack Obama’s racial authenticity.
The party isn’t laughing.
In his campaign for chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chip Saltsman, a Tennessee political operative, distributed a song to potential supporters this week called “Barack the Magic Negro,” a parody that questions President-elect’s Barack Obama’s racial authenticity.
The song, by the political satirist Paul Shanklin, was first broadcast last year on the Rush Limbaugh radio show, and Mr. Limbaugh defended it then against accusations of racism. But after an election in which Republicans lost badly among minorities — spurring vows of new efforts to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate — party leaders were not amused.
“I am shocked and appalled,” said Mike Duncan, the current chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is seeking re-election.
And former Speaker Newt Gingrich said in an e-mail message, “This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it.”
But commenting to The Hill, which on Friday disclosed the distribution of the CD containing the song, Mr. Saltsman defended it as “light-hearted” and said committee members would receive it with “good humor.”
As criticism intensified on Saturday, Mr. Saltsman could not be reached.
The song is sung to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” by a character meant to be Al Sharpton, the civil rights advocate and sometime politician. In it, the Sharpton character criticizes Mr. Obama for being insufficiently black, and mocks his white supporters for embracing him to assuage guilty feelings about racial injustice. It was distributed as part of a collection of Mr. Shanklin’s parodies.
Saul Anuzis, a Michigan candidate for Republican chairman, called the song “in bad taste.”
“Just as important,” he added, “anything that paints the G.O.P. as being motivated in our criticism of President-elect Obama by anything other than a difference in philosophy does a disservice to our party.”
Mr. Saltsman, who was aide to former Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, was campaign manager for former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas during his 2008 presidential bid. He is also a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.