Michele Bachmann’s Tar Baby Obama Racism Masks the GOP’s Sticky Situation

In most families or social groups there is one moron that is an embarrassment to human intelligence, and when they make absurd comments, the best course of action is to ignore them and attribute their remarks to stupidity. However, when their comments are intentionally racist, it is nearly impossible to discount them as uniquely stupid, because they are bigots. Over the past four years, Republicans have unleashed a bevy of excruciatingly awkward politicians who do not represent the collective intelligence or common decency of most Americans, and one of their stars emerged to remind the country why the GOP is loathsome and racist in discussions about President Obama.

Michele Bachmann distinguished herself as an ignoramus on par with the other American idiot, Sarah Palin, during the rise of the teabagger movement, and during an interview on Wednesday she combined ignorance, deceit, and bigotry that may portend the nature of the Republican campaign heading into the general election. Bachmann assailed President Obama’s economic record and when the subject of the President’s proposed crackdown on speculators manipulating the oil market and his blocking the Keystone XL pipeline came up, she said, “This is just about waving a tar baby in the air and saying that something else is a problem.” In seems that Bachmann foreshadowed into the Republican strategy for the general election campaign.

First it is important to establish a few facts about the oil situation that Bachmann and Republicans refuse to acknowledge.  Domestic oil production is at its highest level in a decade, oil supplies are greater today than they were three years ago, America is exporting more oil than it imports, and demand for oil in the United States is lower today than it was in 1997. Despite Republican assertions, President Obama is not responsible for restricting the flow of oil or the high prices at the pump. In fact, there is broad agreement among energy experts and economists that speculators are one of the primary causes for the rapidly rising price of gas. Yesterday, natural gas futures closed at the lowest price since September 2001 after a government report showed an inventory surplus, and gasoline slid to a seven-week low. That is why the President is asking Congress for help policing oil markets and to be on the lookout for price manipulation by speculators. Perhaps if Bachmann was not blinded by stupidity and racial bigotry, she would understand that President Obama is not “waving a tar baby in the air,” but he has and is taking all the steps at his disposal to combat high gas prices.

No-one really expects Bachmann to comprehend why gas prices are rising in spite of lower demand and higher supplies, but they should expect a sitting Congressional representative to avoid using a racial epithet when referring to the first African American President. The term tar baby became popular during the 19th-century Uncle Remus stories, and was a reference of a sticky situation, but it carries a racial undertone as well. According to the Oxford dictionary, tar baby is a derogatory term for a black person, and poet Toni Morrison saidtar Baby is also a name, like ‘nigger,’ that white people call black children, black girls.” Bachmann’s spokesperson claimed it was not racial in nature, but referred to the President getting himself in a sticky situation. So, Bachmann was saying the President was waving a sticky situation in the air? Not hardly. She could have used terms such as red herring or straw man in the context of her statement that would have sufficed to make her point, but she did not. In fact, she went on to call the President “infantile” that makes her “tar baby” comment all the more incriminating.

Last year, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) compared working with President Obama to “touching a tar baby” and after being assailed by African-American leaders he sent a personal letter of apology to the President. Willard Romney used the term in 2006, and his spokesperson quickly issued an apology for using a bad choice of words. If other Republicans acknowledged the term is racially inappropriate, then one can only assume that Bachmann’s use was a deliberately veiled message to racists in the Republican base. It is not the first time Republicans have used race to appeal to their base and each of the presidential hopefuls have made remarks that are decidedly racist to garner support against the President.

Bachmann is a fool, but her word choice was a measured reference to the President’s race that will resonate with the party faithful who still cannot stand the thought of an African American man sitting in the Oval Office. Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich all used similarly veiled references to the President’s race and although it will garner support from racists across the country, it is insulting to decent Americans who comprehend that tar baby is not a term of endearment and regardless of the context of a conversation, is patently inappropriate in referring to an African American whether they are the President of the United States or a school teacher. For Bachmann to attempt to justify using a racial epithet in describing the President’s handling of high gas prices is both absurd and an affront to the intelligence of Americans. However, it is no more absurd than Republicans blaming the President for rising prices at the pump when the country is awash in oil and exporting it to enrich the foreign oil market and the oil industry.

The entire Republican assault on the President over gas prices, contraception, religious liberty and mommy wars is because they have no real solutions to help all Americans. Their criticism of the President over policing oil speculators reveals their desire to protect the oil industry and Wall Street, and it keeps them from addressing income inequality, jobs, healthcare, or women’s rights because the people comprehend that more tax breaks for the wealthy, deregulating Wall Street and eliminating environmental regulations is not going to help anyone except the uber-wealthy and their corporations. Republicans will keep using morons like Bachmann to inject veiled racial messages into the campaign because if they think they can keep Americans outraged, that no-one will notice they are not focusing on real issues or that they have no real solutions, and that is the real sticky situation Republicans are finding themselves in.

7 Replies to “Michele Bachmann’s Tar Baby Obama Racism Masks the GOP’s Sticky Situation”

  1. I’ve lived in Florida for over half a century, and the only time I’ve heard “tar baby” used was once as a name for a black kitten. Nobody used it in the sense of either “a sticky situation”, a “straw man”, or a “red herring”, none of which (except the herring) are “waved around”. Suddenly, however, it has resurfaced: Republicans, everywhere, are carrying this mysterious “tar baby” in their mouths and seem intent on dropping it at the front door of the White House. The innocence in clearly feigned.

  2. tar – yes: baby – no: feathers – yes (for MB, not BO)

    “Bachmann is a fool” A fool with scary ideas and a big stage. Vote her out, Minnesota.

    “Not all Republicans are racist but all racists are Republican”

  3. “I think John [McCain] is trying to throw that big tar baby out there. You want to lose, you don’t want to win. Of course Barack Obama wants America to be successful.”

    -John Kerry(D)

    Is that racist?

    Is it really that impossible to believe that people are unaware that “tar baby” has a second racist meaning? I sure didn’t know and I’m guessing that most of the people expressing outrageous outrage over this didn’t know either. Also, it is important to note that Bachman didn’t call Obama a tar baby. She said he was waving a tar baby.

  4. Julia, perhaps you are not a paid little liar. I have my doubts. Maybe Kerry said it. If so, it would be many a long year since anyone else has used it outside a racist context.

    A genuine “tar baby” was a man-sized scarecrow which was painted with tar or other glutinous substances so crows would stick to it. They are not used now because only stupid crows ever fell for it. In all events, you can’t wave them.

  5. Julia,

    The concept of “tar baby” was racially offensive as far back as 1946, when Disney did not release Song of the South, which contains the Tar-Baby story, in North America for just that reason.

    Candidates who have used the phrase include Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, John Kerry, and John McCain.

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines “tar baby” in its original sense — and as “a derogatory term for a black person (U.S.).

    It’s probably best to avoid using it, and best to avoid taking refuge in John Kerry’s having used it. It doesn’t matter who says it. The meaning stays the same.

  6. Thank you for restoring the desktop view! I no longer feel like I’m stuck in the pantry while everyone else is at the dinner party!

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