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. Joy

    Wow Ken Blackwell you really want to be elected for the RNC chair. It's funny he finds nothing wrong with it. Maybe because they are talking about Obama in this song. I wonder how he would feel if they was singing the song about his mama.

    December 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Ms. GA

    This only shows the ignorance that remains in the Republican Party. Nothing about that song is funny. They are still trying to fuel racism just like they did at the rallies a couple of months ago. I would never vote Republican.

    December 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. libby

    Oh!, get a life, its commedity!

    December 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. JohnCynic

    The republican party can drop the "G" from "GOP" because there's nothing "Gentlemanly" left from this party who is breathing its final breaths, in its present form. We all can see how flawed, and improper our political representation is.

    December 29, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. proud army and navy mom

    I appreciate Saltsman being out in the open with his race-baiting, ignorant bigotry.

    It's refreshing, they usually try to disguise and hide it as something else.

    December 29, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. I'll take Obama over Bush anyday

    What the f@#k! What kind of sick joke is this.The republican party will go down in flames if it continues this behavior.You would think after the defeat of McCain/Palin or Sean Hannity race baiting they would adopt a new approach.

    December 29, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Rob in NJ

    This is much ado about nothing. Who cares, these people are not in power. What we need to focus our energy on is keeping Obama from hosing our country. He is very shady and who knows what he is going to do.

    In summary, Obama is the one we need to be worried about because he will soon be President and will have all the power. He is very shady and unless he is watched carefully all sorts of trickery and bad times are ahead.

    December 29, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. ran

    Yes we do know political satire when we see/hear it and this Mr. Saltsman is not. Read Gulliver's Travel. That is true political satire.

    December 29, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. MLH

    It is good to see that some Republicans get the picture. I took the time to find and listen to this song to see if the satire argument held any water. It doesn't. The song is appalling, and while there may be people out there, like Mr. Saltsman, who find it funny, it would be a very sad day for this country if those people were then to go on to a position of authority.

    Get a clue, Mr. Saltsman, as a white person I didn't vote for President-Elect Obama because I thought it was time for a President who was mixed race. I voted for him because he was the best person for the job. If the GOP really wants another shot at the White House, perhaps their leaders ought to work on refuting that argument instead of obsessing on the pigment of Mr. Obama's skin.

    December 29, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. patNY

    Racists like Saltzman have always hid behind the old defense of political satire when they tried to defend other so called "humor" pieces that invoked images of African Americans as native savages and various forms of inferior primates back in the late 1800s and early to mid 1900s. Please, we can see through it all now. Its not satire, but racism, plain and simple, and the fact these southern white rednecks don't get it, shows we should've let the south cecede and form its own country that would've failed under its own stupidity!

    December 29, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Lisa V

    I wonder? Would Republicans think it is funny if a tape came out with "Blackwell, the Magic Oreo" on it? Horrific of me to even bring it up, I know. But, maybe this will start putting things into perspective for those Republicans who think the Saltsman CD or Waffle Box was funny or that Democrats just need to lighten up.

    December 29, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Leena

    It's not satire or a joke if you have to explain it. Bottomline you and your party have just re-confirmed why I voted Democrat this year.

    And to say....."I think most people recognize political satire when they see it," Saltsman told CNN. "I think RNC members understand that.".... just displays your level of non-intelligent critical thinking skills.

    It's not about the RNC members 'getting it'. It's about how the world and swing-voters views your party and policiies. I'm sure KKK members 'get' why they hide behind sheets too. Get the point?

    You made yourself and by extension your Grand Ole' Party look ignorant, out of touch and just plain stupid. To not simply admit what a big disservice you accomplished with one dumb move makes you look even worse.

    December 29, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. John, Brooklyn, New York

    ...and the Republican gaffes just keep coming.

    December 29, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    BEYOND CONTEMPT.....

    Bush and his "patriotism" and pro-BIG OIL administration of henchmen have almost ruined this country.... yet these moronic flag wavers still don't get it.... SAD

    December 29, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. proud army and navy mom

    oh and look, he's a republican from TN, home of the good ole boys! where some here are ignorant and proud of it. Idiots...

    December 29, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. 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".

    December 29, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. Paul from Canada

    This whole mess is all just one more nail in the GOP's coffin.

    December 29, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Bill_ MA

    Republicans...the party of bible banging, racist, chicken hawks. How do you live with so much hate?

    December 29, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. Mr. Lugo

    It makes me laugh that everyone who dislikes PE Obama calls him the Messiah.

    I think it's because deep down in their soul they actually hope that he IS the Messiah, because they know that our country has fallen apart and someone needs to fix it. It certainly won't be a Republican, they are too busy fighting each other right now.

    Or is it because no one in your party deserves the title of Messiah? Seems like there is some truth in your words, since you keep repeating them.

    December 29, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. karen

    Rush has been playing this parody for a least the last six months,, i was surprised he was able to get away with it,,, but the rnc is now the awp, the all white party,,,,diversity is good,,,,i think the republicans are done,, stick them with a fork,, its over

    December 29, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. Former Republican

    WE HAVE KNOWN FOR YEARS THAT THE KKK MEMBERSHIP

    HAS BEEN DWINDLING. WHAT WE DIDN'T KNOW IS THAT

    ALL THEY DID IS CHANGE THEIR ORGANIZATION NAME TO

    THE REPUBLICAN PARTY & INCREASE THEIR NUMBERS.

    MOST OF MY FRIENDS NOT ONLY HAVE QUIT THE PARTY

    BUT WE ARE ASHAMED WE EVER WERE MEMBERS OF THAT

    SLEAZY DECEITFUL SLIMY GROUP OF BIGOTS.

    December 29, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. obama08

    How does this incident help the RNC to reach out to independents and minorities? What a bonehead move! This is just another demonstration of what is in the hearts of many southern Republicans. I hope Mike Huckabee and Bill Frist publicly denounce Saltsman soon.

    December 29, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. obama-mama

    Heather December 29th, 2008 11:20 am ET

    Funny that now this song is bringing in so much hoop-la, especially since it was released well over a year ago. I really thought that it was a funny song…evidently some of the critics have not heard it. Even my Obama lovin sister admitted that it was quite good. Get a grip America, smile once in a while, and lighten up
    ______________________________________________________
    I don't know what kind of crack you and your Obama lovin sister is smoking but I don't find it funny....Not sure what village you're from but you need to get a clue.

    December 29, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. jfs Memhis, Tn

    This is one of the very reasons this MODERATE Republican, of the SILENT MAJAORITY, supported Obama and voted Democratic. The GOP is so FAR from Eisenhower and Regan that it is ashame. These OLD Conservative Democrats from the South thought they had found a home in the GOP in 1964.............WRONG !!! They and their off-spring and the Religious Right have managed to ruin a Party and dissolve the Regan years into oblivion. I think that the time has come for a third Party....can you believe that the Party of LINCOLN and The Party of the Emancipation Proclamation has come to this???? I am so ashamed.

    December 29, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. Apples for sale

    The Republcans are beginning to eat their own.Who was Mike Connell and why is he no longer among the living?

    December 29, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
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