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. Molly

    This is another example of why I left the Republican party and why the GOP will hold the minority for several elections to come. Its not that the democrates are better, they are just the lesser of two evils at the moment.

    If the song was actually funny...or so over the top it would easily be identified as satire then this idiot might have a good excuse.

    December 29, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Lola

    Republicans are racists, everyone knows it. How many African-American in that party ? That says it all.

    December 29, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Soccer Nana

    @ not fooled regarding, "Just another distraction from the obvious meltdown of Chicago politics. If Obama has nothing to do with the Blago investigation, why did he request to move into the Blair House early? Why did he then decide to go on vacation in Hawaii? I know the answer… Get as far away from Chicago as possible!!"

    You have rightfully identified yourself as the "village" idiot.

    First of all, the Obamas requested to move into The Blair House earlier than normal protocal because of the start of the new school year! They have 10 and 7 year old children they want to get settled into their new school as seamless as possible.

    Secondly, the family Christmas vacation was planned earlier in the year and unfortunately, the funeral service for his recently deceased grandmother was scheduled into the vacation as well.

    The Obamas being in Hawaii at this time has absolutely NOTHING to do with delusional Blagojevich.

    December 29, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Marcus, Great Lakes, IL

    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.
    _________________________________________

    O.K. Rob in N.J. Just how do you know this? You have super powers to see what is in store for the U.S.A? If so, why don't you let me know what the winning lotto numbers are for this weekend. I could use the cash now that my wife will lose her job come January 1st.

    Funny how everyone KNOWS what is going to happen in the future but can't figure out the winning lottery numbers...

    December 29, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. David in SC

    The Greatly Offensive Party continues its slide toward oblivion.

    December 29, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. 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 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. Joan , Ontario

    To the person who said the Obama's request to go to Washington earlier was to get away from the Chicago politics should remember that school will be starting and their girls could have begun the term on time if they were in Washington. That person also criticized them for going to Hawaii for Christmas. He was born there, he has family there, they have had Christmas there before and they also attended his Grandmother's private family memorial service during the visit. Give the guy a break. In twenty days he is inheriting the worst mess the United States has ever been in thanks to the Republican party's polices over the last eight years. No one has forgotten that and those on the right who now have all the answers should tell everyone why they didn't fix everything when they were in power. They caused the mess and are doing everything they can to try to hinder him from making things better. Some patriotism!

    December 29, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. pam

    This is just great! Rush, Hannity, O'Riley, Rove, and the rest of the old and out of touch white guys are turning the Republican party into a bigoted group that will soon be totally irrelevant. I keep seeing the crowd at the convention last fall. All the faces looked the same. About 90% of the faces were old, overweight white people.
    I hope Saltsman is the new head of the RNC. I also hope the RNC chooses Huckabee and Palin to lead the Republican party. That will insure Obama 8 years to try and put our great country back together.
    I love the comment directed at Carol "you are not fit to shine Limbaugh's shoes". I can only hope that such things are said about me!

    December 29, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. William from Chicago

    The cornerstone of the Republicans’ southern strategy which they have been following since Nixon and Atwater was, and remains, racism. Saltsman is simply extending the RNC's tradition of pandering to racists as part of an effort to divide the country.

    Ken Blackwell's defense of Saltsman and implicitly the RNC's race-based politics of divisiveness is below pathetic. Blackwell has sold any shred of integrity he once had as he shamelessly grovels for favor from Republicans that surely find him contemptuous. I view both men as morally and intellectually bankrupt; and if Republicans hold any hope of remaining a viable national party then the party should forcefully repudiate this type of craven behavior.

    December 29, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Thomas

    The comments where people are stating that they do not feel this is funny are completely immaterial. Something does not have to be funny to everyone to be considered humour. All humour is offensive to someone. That is just the nature of humour.

    Just because you don’t find it funny, does not mean it is not funny. Whether a black man or women finds this funny or not funny does not establish any definition of humour.

    As a citizen, Mr. Saltsman, has the right to poke fun at politicians. No politician is immune from satire or even crude humour. It goes with the job. It would be hypocritical to condemn humour against Mr. Obama while endorsing the same against President Bush.

    That being said, I feel that Mr. Saltsman exhibited a severe lack of judgment in sending this material. This lack of judgment should disqualify him from any consideration for a leadership position in the GOP.

    As a citizen, Mr. Saltsman has the right to be crudely humourous. As a potential political leader, he gives up that right.

    December 29, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. chris s.

    This is a hateful CD. I will never vote Republican again.

    December 29, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Dave, Illinois

    And I bet all you who are so indignant over the parity just laugh and laugh at idiots like John Stewert and Tina Fey when they do it. You hypocrits. Oh, you Lefties that are calling the Reps racists, hows old KKK grand wizard Senator Byrd doing?

    December 29, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Bea

    hate only creates more hate. repect the man. He is going to be sworn in soon. I know he is black and some people can't still accept that a black man can be president but this is America....the united states....leadership does not just belong to one color. Respect each other. Respect Obama ....don't try to make things difficult for him because he is black.

    December 29, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. John

    I for one am very grateful for this move by the Republicans. I hope they defend this, and demand their right to free speech. Even better, we should donate money to have this mailed to every eligible voter. It is about time we see the Republicans in their true light. They are unintellectual racists who have a very sick sense of humor and maintain a very low value on human life (unless of course it is smaller than three cells). Keep it up and maybe we can rid ourselves of them as quickly as we did the wigs!!!

    December 29, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Sue

    That's what they're saying publicly. Privately they probably all thought it was hilarious.

    December 29, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. J.P.

    Uh, does anyone actually KNOW where the title of the parody song comes from??? Try the L.A. Times, AND it was written by a black man nearly two years ago. Has anyone bothered protesting the original author of this phrase???

    The title actually refers to a pop culture term (most often applied to characters played by Morgan Freeman, et al) in which a "magic negro" allows whites laden with racial guilt to feel better about themselves. If the word "negro" has liberals' panties in such a bunch, I suggest you all simply take a deep breath and repeat after me... "parody" "parody" "parody."

    There is nothing "racist" nor "bigoted" about this song. Have you actually LISTENED to it? It spoofs poverty-pimps and race-profiteers like Al Sharpton who feel slighted that they are no longer relevant in the new world of Barack Obama, a "magic negro" who allows whites to no longer feel racial guilt for slavery. Learn, hippies, learn... and stop reacting on emotion.

    December 29, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. 2035 Minority!!!!

    People People PLEASE I ask that all recognize that White People in America will soon be the Minority! Let's see how funny these songs are in the next 30 years!!!! Jokes on you Racist people!!!!

    December 29, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. arc, Lugano CH

    libby December 29th, 2008 11:26 am ET
    Oh!, get a life, its commedity!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    True 'comedy' is the faint yet noticeable bluish hue to your skin – the result of 'Country First' Poor White Trash multi-generational inbreeding of your family.

    December 29, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Jim

    "The times they are a changin'." But the Republicans aren't. Dinosaurs.

    December 29, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. grahame

    GOODBYE REPUBLICANS. AND GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH. IF YOU FIND THIS HARD TO SWALLOW THEN JUST ASK YOURSELVES. WHAT POLITICAL PARTY DOES DAVID DUKE AND THE KKK BELONG TO.

    December 29, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. Dj

    I believe Mr. Saltman is shocked that his colleagues are shocked.

    He is simply saying what all of them have been saying (behind closed doors) for years... That is, "we have to keep those minorities in check – especially those negroes"

    I doubt that they were so polite in actual discussions, but I know that if I used the "word" they prefer, my comments would not get posted... and it still may not. So be it.

    December 29, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Jerzjen

    I guess I'm confused. If Blackwell thinks people are hypersensitive right now, wouldn't that be all the more reason to criticize Saltsman's so called joke. If the RNC wants to attract minorities shouldn't it expect its chairman to know the atmosphere and attitudes of one of the group's its hoping to attract? Does Saltsman really think that this behavior will attract African-Americans to the Republican party? Or is he sending a message that come to the RNC but know your place when you do? Or is this behavior another example of an RNC bigwig being in denial about the change this country has undergone in the past year. What may not have gotten much press in 2007, certainly attracks attention in 2008. And lets be honest, Rush Limbaugh has never been a fan of anyone who isn't a White Right Wing Conservative Republican!

    December 29, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Beverly, NYC

    I am pretty sure Saltsman is not a native american name. After looking at the Republican convention in September should we be suprised that Mr. Saltsman and his ilk think this CD is funny!! Save the parodys for wierd Al Yankovic. The hispanic community should know that Mr. Saltsman's CD also has a song about the Spanglish National anthem.

    Howard Dean was right, Republican Party = White Party. No none need apply who does not look like us.

    December 29, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. GA Independent

    Most of the country really doesn't know just how racist the south is... it's ugly down here. I am appalled to hear some of the stuff that comes out of my neighbor's mouths and they haven't a clue how nasty they sound.

    It's time for America to really look closely at ourselves. We all pretend that we're all past "all that", but really, we are not. Wouldn't it be nice if "conservative" wasn't synonymous with "bigot" or "racist"? I sure don't see many examples of that...

    December 29, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. David

    I just want you people to realize that this Saltsman is the in that Tennessee Republican Party which made the "racist" commercial that defeated Harold Ford. The commercial insinuating that the white woman asking Harold to call her. I am a Black man and I know this Ken Blackwell guy whom I would describe as a bigger "Tom" than Uncle Remus from the past. This is the Republican Party.

    December 29, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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