December 29th, 2008
10:44 AM ET
3 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. Nancy in MN

    Marc in Virginia: Come on, people, lighten up! It was just a joke. I don't think any of you would mind "McCain the Magic Honkey".

    Marc – Really? That's what you think? I suppose I have to say it then. I would really mind that and would not think it was funny or appropriate.

    December 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Dee Tee Gee

    As much as I'm pleased with the election of President Obama, I'm more pleased with what the 2008 presidential election has uncovered. There's a lot of people who believe & want everyone to believe that racism doesn't exist anymore, that all of a sudden the group of people who in the past treated people of color terribly have dramatically changed, that their train of thought has changed. We're seeing concrete evidence that it hasn't. I'm not surprised by this behavior. Disappointed, but not surprised. But the people who are saying these racially charged things need to realize that this isn't 1958, when black people had to sit there & be treated like dogs & couldn't do anything about it. Progress has definitely been made in that area.

    December 29, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. David

    Is there really a purpose for the existence of the republic party, besides being a hiding place for white color criminals, racists, the under-educated and those in conflict/fear with anyone not like them or who do not think like them. Maybe a better question is... 'what is their purpose that benefits the United States of America??'

    December 29, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. CH in Maine

    "WE HATE AMERICA" their title says it all. It would also be true with a comma. "WE HATE, AMERICA". I never hated America.

    December 29, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    It's no surprise that a racist song like that was aired on rush limboob's stupid, sub-moronic radio show.l

    GOP now stands for Goofy Old Pinheads.l

    December 29, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Mike, Syracuse NY

    I'm just loving all the liberals with their phoney outrage. They blast Reps for dividing us then go on anti-Republican tirades. I've heard Bush, McCain and Palin called far worse right here on this blog than anything in the song. Did you even listen to it? Is your phoney outrage supposed to bring us together? If you beleve your messiah's message, try being less rabid partisans. Your vicious comments show true hippocracy and prove that hate is very much alive and well in the Democratic Party.

    December 29, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Eyckie

    By George: This isn't making fun of someone. It's degrading, racist and bigotted. There is nothing funny about stirring racial tensions and insulting the new President of the United States. This is a personal attack on Mr. Obama, nothing more and nothing less. Anyone can call this free speech but when it's hate speech it should be illegal like it is in most other 'civilized' western countries.

    December 29, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Anthony from NJ

    A white guy made the CD, so it is clearly racism. If a black person made it, it would be deemed funny, and copies would be sold nationwide. Racism exists but is perpetuated by the people who bother to listen to it. If you ignore it, realizing bigots are ignorant, maybe they wouldn't continually get the media spotlight with their remarks.

    December 29, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Stupid is as stupid does

    How dumb are Republicans???

    I remember when "Dumb and Dumber" was a movie, now it's a Republican documentary.

    December 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. LM75

    It's appalling how most of the Republicans are raciest.

    December 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. Texas

    Forget "Barack the Magic Negro." How insulting is it to over half the country that the Republicans sent out a 'parody' CD basically implying that all non-Republicans "hate the USA" ? More than just African Americans should be offended. The Republican Pary needs to get its act together if it wants to continue on with the rest of us into the 21st century.

    December 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Anthony from NJ

    It's not surprising a high-ranking republican official was making this CD because the GOP focuses on immaterial issues of morality and religion rather than making ethical determinations about problems severely effecting our country. It's no surprise the elephant is becoming the newest endangered species in Washington, D.C.

    December 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Charles Atlanta

    Well.. you have to let these GOP flush out from history. It will take time but eventually they will become irrelavent from our society. These people include Limbough and Hannity that never understand why majority American do not want Republican brand anymore. Great majority of young generation are attracted to the Democratic party because they can find cohesion of their life. Be honest, there is no comparison between Obama and McCain. Obama is simply a better leader choice, period.

    December 29, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. California Girl

    They keep doing stupid stuff like this and it always gets them in trouble. A woman out here in Ca who was president of some local repub group did something similar. It just shows how silly, petty, and redneck they actually are. And "redneck" is not a compliment and does not describe "Average Americans." As long as they think it is funny to do this stuff, they will suffer the consequences.

    December 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. VHale

    If only the song had been making fun of Sarah Palin it would have been so much more acceptable.

    December 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. atypical

    political parties aside, it is adolescent behavior at best.
    live and let live, I suppose, but I don't align with this kind of energy.
    peace.

    December 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Bob

    This is exactly why I am a progressive. While the world has moved on, the conservative movement is stuck in its tainted, contrarian history.

    All of the truly great accomplishments of this country, from the American Revolution to the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement, have been progressive. Some people just don't get it, and Mr. Saltsman is clearly within that camp.

    December 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Maggie SC

    tHE PERSON COMPOSING THAT SONG EVEN IF CLAIMING TO BE A rUPBLICAN MUST BE HIDING HE SNTI REPUBLICAN VIEWS. IT IS BAD TAAST TO THROW THINGS LIKE THAT AT OBAMA AND i AM A REPUBLICAN. IT THROWS A BAD LIGHT ON ALL THE REST OF US REPUBLICANS/

    APPOLIZE OR GET OUT OF OUR PARTY.

    December 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Michael Templer

    you know in 2004 I was afraid of an ending like this. We won the election but did it in the wrong way. This kind of thing will give Obama even more of honey moon the would have been.

    This Generation of Republicans only know how to do one thing

    Attack and be hateful

    Where is Ronald Regan's optimism

    where is Goldwater's Conservatism

    so not only are you stupid but you are hatefull despite the circumstances.

    We can't afford for the next president to fail so we can get a Republican in there in 2012!!

    Republicans enjoy being in the Minority for the forseable future

    as a black Republican that voted for Obama

    we can't afford to let you run the country any more

    give the Liberals a chance

    they certainly can't screw it up any worse than you have

    and what ever money they are going to spend will at least be on us and not wasteful wars and Haliburton.

    December 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. xcusme

    Satire wow a new word for racism. Yes, everyone is entitled to free speech agreed. But must we accept stupidity with it?

    December 29, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. al czervic

    the R surely stands for tarded again

    December 29, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. kayla

    IS THIS A SLAP IN THE FACE FOR ALL THE BLACK REPUBLICANS' WHO VOTED FOR MCINSANE? OR DO THEY NOT CONSIDER THEMSELVES BLACK? LOL.

    December 29, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Phoenix

    I am a black American who is not amazed at the level of bigotry spewed especially by whites who feel that somehow Obama is a symbol of all they have lost (including their minds). Go on, please support this CD so that you can continue to isolate yourselves in the midst of your dying ideals. I really am sorry for those white Americans who do not hold these values, but unfortunately, they get clumped with these sort of goons.

    December 29, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Matthew, Houston, TX

    It isn't a joke to say that anyone who isn't a white Republican hates the USA. As a centrist who is often lumped in with liberals (no necessarily a bad thing), I have been called anti-American, socialist, an adulterer, a thief and much worse just because I did not agree with the conservative line 100%.

    It's not even the content of the song that makes this so bad, it's the idea being sent that anyone who isn't like you or doesn't think like you must hate their country. I served my time in the military to protect my country and resent it when I'm told I hate America just because I'm not a conservative.

    This is why there is such outrage, this is why the Republican party and conservatism is on it's way out. You guys just don't get it and probably never will.

    December 29, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. David from Kentucky

    And this guy wants to run a national political party? He's an idiot and an good example of whats wrong with the present Republican Party.

    December 29, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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