Winning the Black Vote

President-elect Obama is coming into office with record high approval levels:

In a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, a sample of 1,008 Americans picked President-elect Barack Obama as the man they admire most. No president-elect has topped the poll since war hero Dwight Eisenhower 56 years ago.

So, showing the leadership that we’ve come to expect in the last eight years, a major player in the Republican Party decides to pull a stunt like this…

(CNN) — A candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship said Friday the CD he sent committee members for Christmas — which included a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro” — was clearly intended as a joke.

The title of the song about President-elect Barack Obama was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column.

“I think most people recognize political satire when they see it,” Tennessee Republican Chip Saltsman told CNN. “I think RNC members understand that.”

The song, set to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” was first played on conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh’s radio show in 2007.

Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested President-elect Barack Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation’s history of mistreatment of African-Americans. Saltsman said the song, penned by his longtime friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times.

The CD sent to RNC members, first reported by The Hill on Friday, is titled “We Hate the USA” and also includes songs referencing former presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

According to The Hill, other song titles, some of which were in bold font, were: “John Edwards’ Poverty Tour,” “Wright place, wrong pastor,” “Love Client #9,” “Ivory and Ebony” and “The Star Spanglish Banner.”

Saltsman was national campaign manager for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential bid in 2007 and 2008. Before that, he held a variety of posts, including a number of positions under former Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Bill Frist?! Keep your cats indoors.

I like to listen to Michel Martin’s radio show, ‘Tell Me More’ which gives air time to issues of interest to black women. One day before the election she was interviewing African-American Republican women. Although I disagreed with their point of view, the women made their case in thoughtful, civil terms. They didn’t slam the Democrats, they praised the Republicans. They talked about values and self-reliance. They often had to defend their politics to their friends, both black and white. After this ‘thank you’ from the Party I imagine they have a lot of explaining to do. But at least they are not alone. They can ask their Hispanic Republican friends how they like “The Star Spanglish Banner.” Wouldn’t want to miss any demographic.

Playing the racist card is the kind of politics that made lifelong Republicans vote for Obama. It makes the Democrats, who have so often failed and taken for granted black voters, look very good by comparison.

If the population projections are true, we are on track to become a more multi-racial nation. The dinosaur strategy of race-baiting is going to end up in the tar pits where it belongs. Of course, for some, gay is the new black. President Elect Obama chose Rick Warren to do the Invocation. I regret all the gifted clergy he didn’t choose, from churches that are Welcoming and Affirming, and no less Christian for not being Mega. Reaching across the lines has its hazards and limitations. But I’d rather take the risks and the bruises than cozy up with the Republican Regular Guys, preaching to a shrinking congregation of the converted.


6 thoughts on “Winning the Black Vote

  1. Nancy, Thanks for writing about this. It reminds me of the whole controversy over the New Yorker cartoon of Obama and Michelle fist-tapping. That one raised some questions, but ultimately I did not feel it was so bad. This situation seems uglier.

    The title is certainly offensive at first take, but isn’t part of humor and satire about saying things that no one else will say — surprising people with the unsayable?

    Anyway, it does seem to be a marker of further decline in the Republican party’s behavior. But Democrats are not always known to be exemplary in their behavior, so I’m inclined to refrain from further judgment.

  2. It’s looking that way. Here’s the lyrics, by the way, for people who want to know, courtesy of a site called whizbangblue:

    Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.
    The L.A. Times, they called him that
    ‘Cause he’s not authentic like me.

    Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper
    Said he makes guilty whites feel good
    They’ll vote for him, and not for me
    ‘Cause he’s not from the hood.

    See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,
    Or me, or Farrakhan
    Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.
    Not come in late and won!

    Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.
    The L.A. Times, they called him that
    ‘Cause he’s black, but not authentically.

    (repeat Refrain)

    Some say Barack’s “articulate”
    And bright and new and “clean”
    The media sure loves this guy,
    A white interloper’s dream!

    But, when you vote for president,
    Watch out, and don’t be fooled!
    Don’t vote the Magic Negro in
    ‘Cause… (music stops, Sharpton rants, music returns)

    (background vocalists repeat refrain & finish song)

  3. it must be hard to sing when you have your head up your…sorry, i forgot myself. funny they sent this out for Christmas. maybe they forgot which side they were on in the War and decided to kill off Christmas for good.

  4. I have to wonder about Rick Warren.I don’t much care for clergymen(or women)of any persuasion.That said,he is going to Washington to give a benediction at the inauguration of a man who seems to differ with him on what he(Warren)considers fundamental moral issues.He’s acting like a publicity whore if you ask me.
    I haven’t watched an inauguration since Kennedy in 1963 and plan to keep it that way.
    This is not the time to go overboard with pageantry and celebration-Obama is coming aboard at a very bad time,and maybe a downbeat mood and a businesslike ceremony would be appropriate.I’m not being a grinch,but the world is spiraling downward fast and Obama is going to be faced almost immediately with economic and geopolitical problems as bad as existed in the Thirties.
    If he’s smart,Obama will give a realistic speech,not more blather about “hope and change”.The reintroduction of the Clintonistas to the federal hierarchy doesn’t really seem like change.
    In case no one is paying attention,Pakistan and India are at it again and they both have nukes and a distinct hatred for each other.
    The Israelis and Hamas are also going at each other,which could bring in Hezbollah and even Iran and/or Syria.egypt is giving Israel de facto support in gaza,which complicates things even more.
    The economy is far from the bottom-just wait for the next wave of foreclosures.
    Has anyone ever thought about outlawing adjustable rate mortgages?
    Obama must be thinking”did I really want this?”I know I would.
    To get back on topic-racial “humor” generally sucks,although occasionally it can be inoffensively funny.
    When OJ was first arrested I made the joke that he and Al Cowlings weren’t hiding from the police-they were waiting to get served at Denny’s.Some Black coworkers of mine thought it was funny because actually the restaurant was the butt of the joke.I heard it on Jay Leno years later,so I guess other people thought of it also.
    I hope everyone had a nice Christmas.

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