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. Tanya Kujath

    Absolutely Sickening!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 29, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Millie2640

    It's one thing to parody someone for a stupid comment (I can see Russia from my house) and quite another thing to parody based on race. So for all you people comparing this to what SNL did to Palin, it is not the same thing. She made many mistakes/gaffs in comments and Joe Biden as well. Both have been made fun of by SNL and others. So, if you don't want to be made fun of, don't make stupid comments. But making fun of someone's race is entirely inappropriate!

    December 29, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Keith Bonney

    I'm refreshed to see that most republicans are rejecting this moronic melody, and to those I reach out to in hopes that they can take there party back.

    She beginning to split and Chip Saltsman has seen to that, so he's an enemy to his own party he drove a bigger wedge through it then obama ever could.

    December 29, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. Terry, Dallas Texas

    I just love those who are using the right to free speech as the defense for this issue. One more time everyone. Freedom of speech means that you have the right to say whatever you want without fear of being arrested for it. But just because you get to say it does not mean that we have to like it or accept it.

    December 29, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. Bob from the real USA

    What's troublesome about this is that the reaction from most of the RP is that it's not good for the party – not that it's just plain wrong regardless of the political consequences. Very telling.

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

    These reps do not learn from mistakes... tsk, tsk. Stupid. And why the overcry. Let them act like they really are... really smart move GOP! lol.

    December 29, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Jasmine in Germany and NYC

    So Saltsman wanted a little media attention and he got it. I would have preferred it if he had opposed the invasion of Iraq and not been such an avid Bush supporter over the years, but instead he proves that there is a educational deficit in Tennessee. Oh well, good thing change is on the way.

    December 29, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Michelle in KC

    I'm seriously beginning to question whether the Republicans are intentionally trying to sabotage their own party. There's no other explanation for this level of idiocy.

    Wait... there is.

    They're idiots.

    December 29, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Republicans should have stopped this when Sarah Palin started this mess and they sat back and said nothing, including John McCain.

    December 29, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Bob

    Oh, one other point. The author of that LA Times commentary, David Ehrenstein, is a black man. Go figure !

    December 29, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. KJL

    Interesting. I saw the video on Youtube and thought it was in bad taste, but it didn't seem that President-elect Obama was the main target. I wonder what Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson thought of it?

    The best thing is to just vote these racists out of office.

    December 29, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. bushisuseless

    JC your a typical wingnutjob. the subject of this blog is about your good friend Saltsman. But anyway since you insist, People from around the world stop entering our Visa Lottery Sweepstake. because they realized that there's no such thing as American dream. Plus it appears our money is not going to worth anything anymore in the world market. The word is euros my dear Euros. Even the Arabian oilman is dumping their US dollar. As for people wanting to be like "us". That's a hoot. Because the latest I know people from other countries that we occupy can't wait to
    throw us out. Don't worry JC nobody wants to be like you nobody wants to be stupid.. that's just crazy.

    December 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. paul

    This simply shows the true (racist) colors of the GOP.

    December 29, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. John

    Saltsman and his ilk have never gotten over the fact that the South lost.They are against equality because they know they can never measure up. This leaves them the low road, race baiting, insults and fear mongering. So much for the "Grand Old Party'.

    December 29, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    This guy is a Dem in Repug garments.No sane man will carry out this racist act and means it's a joke.His avowed aim is to destroy the GOP. This sleazier than the Rev.Wright ad.
    PATHETIC!

    December 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Noah

    It was funny when Democrats slammed Sarah Palin and made up all kinds of disgusting songs about her but this is just pure bigotry! You liberals sure are great hypocrites, I will give you that.

    December 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Just what we've come to expect from majority members of the Republican.

    Too bad the leadership–can't fool the majority of us of the "real values, morals, and judgement" of the Republican Party. Greed, hatred, dishonesty, and disregard of human suffering bordering on Darwinizm-not characteristics of a lasting political party.

    December 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Doug

    I think it's hilarious. Come on people–lighten up!

    December 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Republicans in general are not funny. They have no sense of humor.

    Remember that TV comedy show a few years back that had a GOP slant and tried to be like Stewart/Colbert?

    (Neither do I. It bombed!)

    December 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Moderate Democrat

    You moderate republicans (the true christians) better speak up louder or form a party of your own. I do think it's unfair that everyone in the party is getting a beating for the actions of a few rotten apples.

    December 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. richard

    LOVED IT – It does not even come close to filth the libs have been saying the last 8 years. I'm glad you libs have your panties in a wad over this.

    December 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Joyce E Neal

    This is typical of the RNC. I just find it hard to believe that there are still Black American's that belong to the RNC. Why would anyone buy, let alone send it as a gift a CD with the title "We Hate the USA". I pray that this individual does not become the leader of the RNC.

    December 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Kimn8R

    I can imagine the flood of parodies, songs, jokes and cartoons that would have washed over us if the McCain/Palin fiasco would have won. So, while this CD is indeed in bad taste, it is nowhere near the target rich environment that Republicans present.

    December 29, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Noah

    ARC- Your sense of history is disturbingly erroneous. Republicans do not "hate African Americans." That is a completely juvenile statement. Republicans were the party that freed the slaves, while the Democrats were the party that wanted segregation to continue in the South. Even Martin Luther King jr was a Republican! African Americans began voting Democrat during the LBJ years largely because his Great Society was seen as trying to help them in particular. I doubt highly that most of you liberals even knew MLK was a Republican. You make me sick with your pathetic statements about Republicans being racist. George W Bush appointed more African Americans and non whites to positions in his cabinet than any other President before him

    December 29, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Keith Bonney

    Before you go crying free speech consider that the was the KKK's number one defense during 1960s however i believe such speech can insight a riot and there for is not protected, it's the same as calling for a riot which is when free speech goes out the window. However Ive listened to the parody and it race baiting not racist after hearing it, all who condone it need to come to terms with there ignorance and possibly there intolerance. LOOK UP THE WORD EMPATHY and grasps it's understanding and you won't find yourself defending garbage

    December 29, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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