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. Rick T

    Yes Richard, why don't you continue to prove the "liberal's" point by calling us all women as if it's an insult.
    Please read/think before you post.
    Almost all people, conservative or liberal, expect better from their leaders.

    December 29, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Steve

    Richard Rohde December 29th, 2008 2:38 pm ET

    Based on all of the degradation the South and Southerners are gettting from the dem/elite, is it alright if we secede this time? I am sure the dems can take care of all of the unemployed and the sacred unions without our taxes.
    ---------------------------–

    Richard. You really are silly. California & NY contribute more tax dollars than than the entire south put together. It just goes to show how ignorant some republicans can be.

    December 29, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Chris

    Republicans just don't get it. They can piously intone how open they want the party to be, but this stunt, and the defense of frankly quite offensive speech, shows what they are.

    Funny how they point to SNL parodies to excuse their behaviour, and talk about double standards.

    Well, in a way they are right, but usually because the parodies of the Left are based on appealing to an educated population.

    Republicans seem bent on reaching out to the lowest common denominator, and take pride in ignorance. Not the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, or even Reagan anymore.

    December 29, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Noah–You're sense of history is also pretty poor. If you look at what the Republican and Democratic parties stood for back then, you would see that their priorities have shifted dramatically. To say that the Republican party freed the slaves is technically correct. But in reality it means nothing because today's descendant has little in common with its ancestor.

    December 29, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Suzanne

    Palin / Saltsman, 2012!! I'd like to say it's just the disgusting Republicans who should be ashamed of themselves, but in reality, the vast majority of our politicians are morally bankrupt. America, where our politicians are bought and sold for a song and a campaign donation. You guys are a disgrace. For the love of God, I hope Obama is different. Please don't let us down. I don't know if we have that many chances left to get it right.

    December 29, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. An Opinionated Negro ... again

    GOP leaders -

    You are so quick to say that the Republicans are the Party of Lincoln as a way to impy that you couldn't possibly be anti-black.

    That, and $4.50, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

    Americans don't trust the GOP whenever an African American or a Latino are involved. You will get NO benefit of the doubt. ZERO. Your past actions have earned this mistrust.

    The only way for you to win Americans over will be to forcefully, and repeatedly repudiate any racial insensitivity and stop trying to explain it away as a joke, satire, mis-statement, a "misunderstanding", etc.

    December 29, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. Chris

    Maybe the real reason why most of them are criticizing the parody is because they weren't asked to come up with their own.

    Chris from NC

    December 29, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. Suzanne

    Oh, and NY Republican: Your comment is so stupid, it hurts.

    December 29, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Reality

    ITS RACIST AND DISRESPECTFUL !!! THIS CHIP GUY IS A COMPLETE LOSER !!!!

    December 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. gl, Pittsburgh

    THE GOP IS VERY RACIST PARTY AND will soon come to an end becasue people of color are really tired of being on the end of the receiving strict. You racist republicans will not be satified until your party comes to an end. The USA belongs to all Americans not just whites. Sara Palin doesn't not represent me our other people of color.

    December 29, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Soccer Nana

    @ Bill, Streamland, IL,

    Jindal and Romney are probably afraid to speak out;

    I don't know about Thune; but,

    I can tell you about Palin – she does not see a problem with the song or the CD; afterall, she has already stated small towns are the "real" America and who real Americans look like. Palin probably plays the CD in her office; her IT staff has allowed race-based emails concerning PE Obama to circulate through the State of Alaska's email system, without fear of reprimand.

    The RNC is choosing to be overtly racist (under the failed disguise of satire) as a symbol of disrespect to PE Obama becoming the first minority President of the United States of America. These antics are literally teaching white youngsters to disrespect the newly elected PE. How sad.

    December 29, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. arc, Lugano CH

    Noah December 29th, 2008 2:36 pm ET
    ARC- Your sense of history is disturbingly erroneous. Republicans do not "hate African Americans."
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Who said Republicans hate 'African-Americans"? They hate Muslims, and many other people too. The Republican Party which freed the slaves is not the Republican party whose presidential candidate smiled as his supporters cried out to "Kill" President Elect Obama. Those Southern DemoDixiecrats who opposed Johnson 40 years ago are not the Democratic Party of today either. If anything, over time they evolved into southern Republicans. Which is, who I was referring too.

    December 29, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. Allegra

    The sad thing is that Paul Shanklin attended a Christian school and ought to know better than to write stuff like this. I can't believe that Jesus would be happy with Shanklin's brand of "comedy," or that he provides hateful material for someone like Limbaugh. I don't remember reading anywhere in the Bible "Make fun of your enemies or call them traitors when they disagree with you."

    December 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. SMR

    The RNC members that think this song is funny and ok to make public needs their heads examined. Put away your white capes and torches, this is 2008 not 1850. WAKE UP!!!

    December 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. Larry Dean

    Just another example of why the current RNC leadership needs to go. All of this kiss up trying to be "politically correct" about something that those of us familiar with Paul Shanklin know is humorous parody recordings is the nonsense that left you all in the minority. Pack up the rest of the sissies and get a real job and let us have some elected leaders to put forth a conservative agenda to be accepted or rejected. Not more falsehoods to try and sucker in a liberal to lean us more to the liberal agenda and hand us our butts in the elections in 2010.

    December 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  16. legal in nc

    I find it absolutely astounding that the demotwits are finding this offensive even though they know it was a poor attempt at satire, but didn't find the emotional rantings of Barry Husseins' pastor Jeremiah to be offensive! That is what I find consistent with the liberal bloggers is that when their side does something idiotic they can explain it away, but if the other side does something then it's a death sentence.

    Follow the lead of OUR countries PE and try to help unify OUR country.

    "Inspect yourself before you Expect from others" TParrish

    December 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. cat

    Republicans will fair better if they do not confuse the reich wing party to the right wing party...There comes a time and if thine eye affends thy pluck it out it will be better to enter into heaven with one less eye then to burn in hell with both.

    December 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  18. patriot

    It's obvious that no one's in charge at the GOP. The once-grand old party has been reduced to a pathetic little ragtag band of the paranoid, the selfish, the religious zealot, the bigot, the dim-witted, the greedhead, the anti-intellectual, and the war monger. Until they stop being a haven for the likes of this Saltsman, they will be relegated to a marginal status in American politics.

    December 29, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. cat

    Republicans will fair better if they do not confuse the reich wing party to the right wing party...There comes a time and if thine eye affends thy pluck it out it will be better to enter into heaven with one less eye then to burn in hell with both.

    December 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. obama-mama

    I'm sure it really takes a lot out of you to hate...Maybe these bigots should try for one day to treat everyone as an equal. You have no idea how great you would feel. I know it's a reach but try it....

    December 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. obama-mama

    Ken Blackwell, (first Black Chairman of the RNC) don't be stupid. They're only using you the way they used Sarah Palin. Only they're making you the token N....Don't do it....

    December 29, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. Suzi

    I saw comments that compared Saltsman sending this CD about Obama to Tina Fey's statire of Palin on SNL.

    SNL is a satirical comedy show. Saltsman is supposedly a responsible politician who wants to head the Republican party. He ddin't send a very positive message about his party or himself.

    Oh, wait! What was I thinking, the RNC is a comedy show.

    December 29, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. NY republican

    Thank you Carrie Goodeagle !!!!! It is rare to see someone separate the individual from the group. I truly appreciate seeing your post, it is so very rare to see that on these pages. ALL of us could learn a lesson from you. I will continue to strive to be worthy to included with the indivdiuals on your list. Thank you from the bottom of my "oft maligned" heart.

    December 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. NYDoc

    Hey Noah, you are absolutely right about the history of the republican & democratic parties. During LBJ time, black-Americans began voting largely democratic, while at the same time the Southern half of the US switched from traditionally democratic to republican mainly because LBJ was seen as giving black-Americans more rights (and the south clearly did not ike that). Since that time, the republicans have catered to racist members of the US (which unfortunately for all the normal people living below the mason dixon line, the majority of these racist reside in the south, but not exclusively). They still pander to those racist/bigots as seen in the Palin-McCain presidential campaign.

    Your party just put out a CD with a song titled "Barack the magic Negro" and you are claiming they are not racist. Listen to yourself for a second, you sound rediculous. That's pretty much the definition of a racist. If I put out a song called "Palin the skanky wh*re", you would have a right to be offended and to call me a sexist. (that statement was not meant to offend people, just to prove a point)

    December 29, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Ken

    @ NY Republican: if you cannot tell the difference between the SNL Palin parody and the Obama ethnic CD, then shame on you. Mind you, I think both have the "right" to be in the public domain, and judged there. But for you neo-nuggets to lamely try to defend the latter from the public judgement by equating it to the former is sheer stupidity, a sure sign of why your party is in the shape it is.

    @BDV: the the southern United States has been bashed in these comments not because of WHERE they are but because of WHAT they did: they voted for the failure-in-charge Bush twice, and proudly so it seems. I'm afraid there's nothing prejudicial in that: it is based on the fact that most of the southern states are red. And then after two stints of abject failure with Bush, only the red states of Dumbf-kistan would go for the tri-fecta of failure by voting for McCain this past Nov. If the "south" has an image of being slack-jawed idiots, they come about it honestly - not prejudiciously.

    December 29, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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