The Spectacle Blog

The Tin Ear Republicans Don’t Need

By on 12.27.08 | 12:44PM

On Wednesday this little gem from RNC chair candidate Chip Saltsman made it into my email account, in addition to being delivered to all kinds of Republican committeepeople.

Attached to it, apparently, was a copy of a 41-track CD including the Paul Shanklin hit "Barack The Magic Negro" and the "Star Spanglish Banner." These songs had originally premiered on Rush Limbaugh's show, the former satirizing an L.A. Times column that more earnestly held the same name.

While Saltsman is defending the CD as just a joke, it doesn't quite stand up to his answer to question number 8 on the Republican committeeman Morton Blackwell's questionnaire:

The fact is that Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian and Jewish voters and many other minorities have ideological bonds with Republicans but have often felt uncomfortable within the confines of our party. Protecting marriage between one man and one woman is but one example. Strong support of Israel by Republican officials is another. Party leaders must effectively communicate with and sincerely listen to these groups. By action and deed, we must convince minority voters to trust the Republican Party again. We must take the members-only sign off the clubhouse door and throw out the welcome mat. The party of Abraham Lincoln can do no less.

This shows a level of tin-eared politicking that is surprising for a man who wants to head the Republican ship. By his own account, he recognizes that this is the year that Republicans need to focus on winning back minority votes. It is part of his candidacy. And he has punctuated that agenda with a racially insensitive anti-political correctness song that's fine for a radio show host who knows how to stir the pot, but probably not fine for the future chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Saltsman, who is the former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, already has a few enemies in his own state. He recently got an unfriendly mention in a Nashville paper. Concerning a possible governor's race in Tennessee, the Nashville Scene reports that Bill Frist is being tapped only by those who might benefit from it:

"He has a political future. The question is how best to advance that future," says one GOP source. "The people around him who are encouraging him to run are the folks, frankly, who have a lot to gain themselves if he does it."

High on that list are developers and fundraisers Reese and Steve Smith, and Chip Saltsman, onetime minion of disgraced Gov. Don Sundquist. Saltsman would like to run Frist's campaign, become deputy governor, then parlay that job into lucrative PR/lobbying contracts, just like those who came before him. (See Dave Cooley, Peaches Simpkins and Tom Ingram.)

Neither portrait is very flattering. On the one hand, he's got a tin ear, on the other hand, he has a reputation for self-dealing. The latter is not unusual to hear about *any* of the candidates, frankly. The former, however, is a big liability.

UPDATE: Mike Allen wonders why there's been no response from GOP operatives on this. The ones I've spoken to are all pretty upset about it and see nothing funny. Some tell me they've contacted Saltsman and asked him to make a public apology. Mike Huckabee and Bill Frist, who've been campaigning for Saltsman by making calls, haven't made any statements about this.

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