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Published: 12/27/2008

Republican National Committee chief: appalled by Obama parody

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Saturday he was shocked and appalled that one of his potential successors had sent committee members a CD this Christmas featuring a 2007 song called Barack the Magic Negro.

In the wake of RNC Chairman Robert M. Duncan s admonishment, former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman said that party leaders should stand up to criticism over sending out the song on a CD.

He earlier defended the song as one of several lighthearted political parodies that have aired on Rush Limbaugh s radio show.

Mr. Saltsman, who managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee s presidential campaign, is seeking the RNC chairmanship.

A spokesman for President-elect Barack Obama, Ben LaBolt, declined to comment on the matter.

The ditty by conservative comedian Paul Shanklin refers to a March, 2007, opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by David Ehrenstein headlined Obama the Magic Negro. In the article, Mr. Ehrenstein argued that voting for Mr. Obama helped white voters alleviate guilt over racial wrongs in the past.

Mr. Shanklin s parody is sung to the music of Puff, the Magic Dragon. Among other Shanklin tunes on the 41-track CD that Mr. Saltsman sent with a Christmas message: I Can Talk Like a Coal Miner s Daughter, Love Client - 9 and Down on the Farm with Al Gore.

The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party, Mr. Duncan said in a statement.

I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate as it clearly does not move us in the right direction.

In a statement that followed Mr. Duncan s, Mr. Saltsman said: Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn t utter a word about David Ehrenstein s irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they re shocked and appalled by its parody on the Rush Limbaugh Show.

I firmly believe that we must welcome all Americans into our party and that the road to Republican resurgence begins with unity, not division. But I know that our party leaders should stand up against the media s double standards and refuse to pander to their desire for scandal, he said.

One of Mr. Saltsman s competitors for the GOP chairmanship, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, didn t refer directly to Mr. Saltsman or the parody.

Mr. Blackwell, who is black, contended in a statement Saturday that there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race because of Mr. Obama s election, and he concluded, All of my competitors for this leadership post are fine people.

The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper that published a story about the CD on Friday, reported that Mr. Saltsman said members of the GOP committee have the good humor and good sense to see Mr. Shanklin s tunes as lighthearted political parodies.



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