December 29th, 2008
10:44 AM ET
2 years ago

Most of Saltsman's Republican rivals slam Obama parody

Shanklin’s album is stirring new controversy among conservatives.
Shanklin’s album is stirring new controversy among conservatives.

(CNN) – Republican Party reaction remains divided over the decision of a candidate for party chairman to distribute a CD that featured the parody tune “Barack the Magic Negro,” with the majority of Chip Saltsman’s political rivals criticizing the move.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan – battling to keep his job as head of the party – was the first prominent member of the GOP to criticize Saltsman for sending committee members the song.

Watch: Saltsman's CD makes waves in the party

"The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a Saturday statement.

"I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us in the right direction."

Michigan party chairman Saul Anuzis also questioned Saltsman’s judgment. "In my opinion, this isn't funny and its in bad taste," he said in a statement. "Just as important, anything that paints the GOP as being motivated in our criticism of President-elect Obama by anything other than a difference in philosophy does a disservice to our party."

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer – who has reportedly been weighing a run for the party’s top spot, but has not officially announced a bid - released a Monday morning statement praising candidates who have weighed in against the "racially-insulting song."

“As the GOP Chairman in one of our nation’s most ethnically and culturally diverse states, I am especially disappointed by the inappropriate words and actions we’ve seen over the past few days," he said. "I am proud of those party leaders who have stood up in firm opposition to this type of behavior."

"Actions such as the distribution of this CD, regardless of intent, only serves to promote divisiveness and distracts us from our common goal of building our party."

Saltsman sent RNC members the parody CD "We Hate the USA" for Christmas, which includes the controversial tune. He defended his decision Friday, telling CNN the song was clearly intended as a joke.

"I think most people recognize political satire when they see it," Saltsman told CNN. "I think RNC members understand that."

Saltsman, a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, was a top advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.

He is one of several candidates running to replace Duncan in the closely contested race to lead the Republican Party.

The song, set to the tune of the 1960s pop hit "Puff the Magic Dragon," was first played on Rush Limbaugh's radio show in 2007. Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation's history of mistreatment of African-Americans.

Saltsman said the song, penned by long-time friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times.

The CD includes parody songs referencing former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

Ken Blackwell – on of two African-American candidates for party chair – agreed with Saltsman’s assessment, defending him in a weekend statement. "Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race,” said the former Ohio secretary of state – who, if elected, would be the first black chairman of the RNC. “This is in large measure due to President-Elect Obama being the first African-American elected president.

“I don't think any of the concerns that have been expressed in the media about any of the other candidates for RNC chairman should disqualify them. When looked at in the proper context, these concerns are minimal. All of my competitors for this leadership post are fine people."

But some younger members of the party were less understanding, as the debate over the satire spread through conservative circles. James Richardson, the RNC’s online communication manager for the 2008 cycle, called Saltsman’s move “quite the revealing faux pas.”

“Granted, he didn’t pull a George Allen and personally call Obama a ‘magic negro,’ but sending a CD with those lyrics shortly after electing the first African American President – one supported by nearly 97% of the African American community – shows a serious lack of judgment, tact, and the necessary level of racial sensitivity expected of public officials,” wrote Richardson, a Red State contributor, on conservative blog The Skepticians.

“And while I’m sure Saltsman doesn’t espouse racist sentiments, this will undoubtedly be spun as an angry, white Southerner stoking the flames of racial tensions after losing to a minority candidate. Hell, why don’t we go ahead and give ‘em the other 3%, too, Chip?”

Most of the candidates for RNC chairman – including Saltsman, Anuzis, Blackwell and Greer – will face off in one week in Washington in a public debate sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. Duncan, who has been invited, has not yet confirmed his attendance.


Filed under: Chip Saltsman • RNC
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. shucks

    I do feel sorry for all the brilliant men and women who are part of the GOP/RNC. Both parties have their nitwits, but it is time for those who aren't to stop allowing their party to be this divisive entity that tolerates these kind of behaviors. By not speaking up and demanding that these people take responsibility for their actions shows the country that they really believe what is being said or done. A lack of interest and not demanding accountability is the most damaging thing they can do to their party.

    December 29, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Laverne

    This should not be just swept under the rug. Saltsman should be publically humiliated by his comments/CD and held accountable for them. God continue to bless Obama and be with him and forgive the ignorance of some, for they know not what they do.

    December 29, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. Debbie

    To Matt- The difference between making fun of Bush and making fun of Obama is that Obama is being made fun with a racist slant. He has absolutely no control over what race he is born as- just like me or you.
    Bush on the other hand, has willfully made decisions based on ignorance and stubborness that he could have done differently.
    Obama is being made fun of for who he is, Bush for what he is.

    December 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Newport News, VA

    This is tasteless and has no place in american politics

    December 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Anne

    Where were these people when Rush Limbaugh started playing this song on his radio show a year ago? If they were actually offended, they should have addressed it long before now. Obama is being sworn in three weeks from now- it's too little too late. Maybe by 2012, the RNC will put out a statement to say that people shouting out the N-word at McCain-Palin speeches was inappropriate as well.

    December 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. ken

    this, in a nutshell, is why the majority of american people rejected the republican platform. i wonder if he would have thought there was no problem if it was called " condi the magic negro"?

    December 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. G from the A

    Barack the Magical Negro
    haha just as funny as Salty the Magical Cracker...
    Get the point.....
    But as the GOP is only for rich country club white guys I suppose it doesn't matter. It only serves to show that racism still exists

    December 29, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Name

    The only people who hate the USA are the RNC and their supporters!

    December 29, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. shucks

    All minorities inclucing African Americans, gays, and women are only useful to most of the republican party at election time when they need votes. Any other time they couldn't care less. I understand their religious attacks against gays and women, but the only thing I can think of that shows the African American population the true feelings of the Republican party recently would be Hurricane Katrina. Enough said!!

    December 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Texas Teacher

    Obviously we have a repub commentator today.... *grin* ... nothing the old texas teacher has to say is note worthy?

    The republicans had better condemn this garbage. There is such a thing as political humor, but obviously the author of this ignorance does not know the difference. If the democrats had written and used such a song about….mmmm… say Sarah Palin. The RNC would have come after the DNC like a lynch mob on a Saturday Night… hoods and all! :)

    December 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. arc, Lugano CH

    Dave, Illinois December 29th, 2008 12:12 pm ET
    Oh, you Lefties that are calling the Reps racists, hows old KKK grand wizard Senator Byrd doing?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Senator Byrd made amends for his mistakes and asked for forgiveness.

    When McCain/Palin supporters cried out to "Kill" President Obama for being and "Arab" and a "Terrorist", or when other 'Country First' voters proudly told their children on TV that you would need "Gloves to touch Obama", the true face of the GOP and Conservatives was seen around the world; and the present universal disgust and disdain that is rightfully directed at Republican Conservatives is beautiful.

    December 29, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. Eloy Gracia

    Saltsman and the RNC are plain SICK........ This story is the most STUPID-man-made action of the year 2008. Are we trying to bring more people aboard? or create more HATE?

    December 29, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Michael

    Republicans allowing racism to penetrate their party?? I am SHOCKED!!! Just SHOCKED I tell you!!! What do you expect all the Southern racist democrats party realigned and are now part of the modern Republican party. The Democratic party is no longer what it was back in the past and the Republican party is no longer the party of Lincoln. Fine by me, it will result in Democratic dominance for years if not decades to come.

    December 29, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Veteran in Kansas

    I am today ashamed to be a Repulbilcan, even more so than watching the party ran into the ground with the likes of Cheney and Bush. Even if meant as a satire, it has no place in America today. And to be truthful I do not think for a moment it was meant only as a little humor. This is cheesy, racist politics at its worst. Unfortunetly, while some will chuckle and laugh there remains an element of ignorant individuals that will laugh at and carry on the song that will rally to the song.

    I never though I would see the day that the Republican party treated race in such a manner. The party of lincoln, the party of abolitionist, a total disgrace

    December 29, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    One good thing about this disgusting decision by Mr. Saltsman is that his political objectives are probably dead. Perhaps he can join Rush Lindbaugh on his radio show. They seem to share the same juvenile sense of humor.

    December 29, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. tony

    Republicans who call Obama "messiah" (let's face it, only the Republicans do) should give it a rest. It is odd that the Republicans, the party of the Religious Right, do not know that it is blasphemous to call any human being messiah. Anyway, Obama did not have to be the "messiah" to beat the Republicans in this election. Anyone could have done it. If McCain had run as a Democrat he could have beaten any ticket with Palin on it. The fact that some Republicans do not appear to understand this is great news for the Democrats.

    December 29, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Kid Politic

    What about the disgraceful and untrue attacks against George Bush?

    Grow up children. Welcome to politics.

    December 29, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Ghost

    Well, the point here isn't whether or not it is racists, it is the perception that matters. You people who point out Oberman, Stewart and the likes are missing one important point: none of them are politican figures.

    Folks like Blackwell and Michael Steele need a visit by the Drop Squad. As the republican voice of the black community, they should be less quick to support whatever brain dead premise their party come sup with and more apt to at least understand where some of the things they defend could be offensive to other black folk. Even Armstrong Williams was able to admit the wrong that his party had done.

    And lastly, had the republican party not shown this entire election cycle that it participated in these types of antics, we probably wouldn't be so quick to doubt the satire excuse.

    December 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. happy new year

    your party did a disservice to pe obama during the whole presidencial campaign, especially palin and all her silly talking about parts of america being better than other parts and all the racist remarks made by so many of you.

    December 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. Shannon

    The GOP will probably never get the black or Latino vote back ever again. They have shown themselves to be the party of white people only. They can not even lose an election gracefully and embrace our new president. They have shown themselves to be filled with hatred and bigotry, they are not inclusive, they have become a very divisive and polarizing group of people.

    December 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. walleye

    Well the REPS have shown their true colors, and they are not Red, White and Blue. Thank God these morons lost the election. Can you imagine a bunch of Bigots running our country. Time to oust the rest of them out of public office and send them to the sewers where they came from.

    December 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. neb

    be serious people, you are just speaking in this form because the song is about obama, don't tell me that in your own personal lives, these types of comments don't come out of your mouths - hiding behind your own words and not being natural - i guess everyone likes to hide behind doors huh!!!

    December 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. NC Dan

    It amazes me how some people like Chip Saltsman not only don't learn, but absolutely refuse to. Especially after their world view gets a severe smack-down, like the one delivered to the GOP on November 4th.

    Liberals don't hate America, Mr. Saltsman. Just dimbulbs like you who try to divide it.

    December 29, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Rorschach

    I'd like to know how these Republicans justify the "We Hate the USA" finger they keep pointing at Democrats.

    What makes these people think they have the market cornered on patriotism?

    Loving your country doesn't mean you have to agree with, or accept without scrutiny, the actions and attitudes of the party in power. Patriotism isn't blind obedience. Sometimes being patriotic means loving your country enough to say "That's Enough".

    December 29, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Jay

    Gotcha! (Obviously a Palin Supporter),

    As an African-American man, who is also a republican I find this CD to be insulting to our culture and our haritage. This CD isn't about the "Mystery" of the president elect its about pure racsim once again coming from the south. I did vote for Obama, and this is the reason why. Too much division from the GOP they need to find themselves!

    December 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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