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. ShoNuff

    J.P., I don't care if you can trace it back to Malcolm X having written the song. Bottom is it is racist, there are ignorant african americans that embolden racists to come up with garbage like this. This is bull

    December 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. jaye

    This racist man should be ousted from office, pronto.

    December 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. EW

    Let's just throw freedom of speech right out the window! The First Amendmet to the Constitution of the United States protects Saltsman's Right to say or publish whatever he wants. It may not be popular and it may not be very nice but he has the Right to do so.

    Where was the outrage at all the parodies about President Bush? Where was the outrage toward the hate that was spewed from the De,ocrats for the last eight years?

    The double standard of the left, as usual.

    December 29, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. ALAN FROM PA.

    BOO-HOO. ALL THE WHINING. WHAT A JOKE! MOST AMERICANS ARE A BUNCH OF ADULT BABIES. WISH I COULD USE ANOTHER TERM BUT THEY WON'T PRINT IT. GROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 29, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    The problem with Republicans is that they have no sense of comedy and when they try it, they inevitably screw it up.

    December 29, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Maggie from Virginia

    There's actually something positive coming out of this... These antics will no longer divide us, that's what the bigots fail to realize. By the way, there's bigotry in both parties; but for some reason, the Republican Party is infested.

    After seeing all the different races come together to reject hate this election cycle, nothing will shake my belief that we are truly becoming one nation. Just remember, the closer we get to unity, the harder racists will fight to stop us. We will overcome!

    December 29, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Angie

    Well, chipper old boy, looks like you sealed your fate. you are a total loser. when is the rnc going to realize they are what is wrong with this country. Racial hatred is still alive and well in the USA. when are they going to realize that if you are not a Native American, than you are part of the big melting pot that makes up the USA. I am so sick and tired of their attitude "oh it was just a joke". Well I can take a joke a well as the next person, but this has got to stop. I think all those that feel their race is superior should go and start their own country. It would be filled with a bunch of stupid racist & dumb bells. They could all hate each other.

    If they would stop and think, they would realize that is ONE reason the repub party lost the election (among other reasons). People want to get along and get on with the business of repairing the country that was destroyed by the repubs over the last eight years.

    December 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Eileen from Maine

    Some groups of people evidently don't think they have much going for them beyond white supremacy. (and maybe those people are right about themselves)

    December 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. jaye

    All this racism and hate was started by John McCain and Sarah Palin, and is being continued by others in the racist republican party.
    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are leading the pack – they are no better than Nazis.

    December 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Lauren the Designer

    Mesa December 29th, 2008 11:59 am ET
    If it was a satire about Bush, would all of you still be upset?

    -----------------------------–

    If it used racist/derogatory language, then yes.

    December 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    To BW and all those "he's half white and half black": People, he is black. If you look black in this country, you are black, no matter what your composition. Remember that there used to be a law on the books (probably still is in some Southern states) that if you had ONE DROP of African blood in you you were black and thus, one-fifth of a human being. And as PE Obama said in the interview that was rebroadcast last night as part of "60 Minutes" feature on Obama's road to the White House, "I don't get this question (re: is he "black enough") walking down the streets of South Chicago and the same issue presents itself when I try to get a cab. He is our first Black president. Bottom line and we should be proud to see it and say it, even though it is very late in coming (still 43-1 white Presidents to Black).

    December 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Interested bystander

    The song is not funny. What's funny is watching the GOP self-destruct. These types of things are going to happen because that's they type of people that make up and lead the GOP...they can't help being themselves; the truth will always shine through. Choosing a new RNC chairman is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic: it's a futile exercise, but they just don't know it yet.

    December 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Ryan, Denver

    This is satire, nonetheless, if a black democrat decided to write a song call Bush, McCain & Palin the Three Wonder Crackers you Republicans would be squeeling reverse racism like the hypocritical pigs that you are.

    December 29, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Sherrol in Canada

    Just goes to show how most folks in the Grand Old Party think. Saltsman just doesn't get it and knows exactly the type of audience he's attracting. Repubs need to realize that another president may not rise from their ranks if they don't change their message.

    I truly can't believe that Hispanics & Latinos choose to be a part of this club.

    ....and of course he would be from one of the redest states ever, Tennessee.

    December 29, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. President Barack Obama

    Obama= Brush Your Shoulders Off...
    Obama could give a sh-t about this garbage. He's enjoying his vacation with his family & planning this country's future.

    The RNC will be out of power for a LOOOONNGGG TIME until it changes it's Ideology & practices. As long as we have Democracy & the right to vote Dems will dominate in elections for awhile because WE will NEVER allow the Bush/Rove tactics to govern this country again.

    Saltsman ..........Your A Clown!

    December 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. BUSH BEGONE AND 75% OF AMERICANS FINALLY AGREE!

    @proudliberal-independent, I like the analogy, I think we need to also invite David Duke to the symbolic Inaugural version of "kumbya by the campfire"! Warren on one side of Obama and Duke on the other.

    Now, that would indeed be a circle of tolerance!

    December 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Dan, TX

    This CD is fundraising gold for the democrats.

    December 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. Miss Gracie

    "in bad taste"??? "doesn't move us in the right direction"????

    Are they kidding me? Even the thought of such a song is based in hatred, jealously, bigotry and ugliness. Since when is hatred and bigotry funny? They should be ashamed of themselves.

    December 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. Franky

    “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?”

    Very well said...

    December 29, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. keeth in california

    H8 is all they have left to peddle.

    December 29, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. We're NOT "your friends"!!!

    Ain't America great, we allow rednecks with racist views of the world to have a say in running our country. This is almost 2009 I thought the Repubs could get past some of this but I guess not. Just wait for another round of defeats in 2010! Your going down Repubs!!!

    December 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. Kpawlak

    Was not Robert Bryd, a former leader in the Democratic party a member past of the KKK? Oh that's right, we can't not to talk about that. Google that folks. This story is just trying to perpetuate the false claim that Republicans are racist. Seems as though there is a lot of hate from those on the left here. Hmmm...... what do we call you?

    December 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. ANAG LOS ANGELES, CA

    i'm sure all those old, white republican guys thought it was funny now they're probably going to throw him under the bus. A bunch of racist pigs.

    December 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  24. Apples for sale

    Looks like the dittoheads are lost for words today,since their hero and savior Rush Limbaugh is on vacation.Poor kids ,someday they will be old enough to vote,which is the scary part.

    December 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. maryam

    Obviously, the lot of GOP/RNC haven't got over their racial issues. There are still two distinct 'colors' out there in clear visibility: White and Black. The former being the supreme and the latter, obviously, still considered the 'negro'. Perhaps losing a few more elections will wake these 'annoyed bunch of people' up! There are 2 wars, bad climates in our economy (and more to follow), plus the world in shamble yet the RNC still ranting the racial drum! When will we ever get over our hang ups?

    December 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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