NY Times: GOP digging a deeper hole for themselves with 'racebaiting'
Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday December 31, 2008

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The controversy over would-be Republican National Committee chairman Chip Saltsman's distribution of a song that many find racially offensive has been going on since Christmas, with much of the commentary focusing on whether it would help or hurt his candidacy. Now the editorial board of the New York Times has weighed in to describe it frankly as race-baiting.

Under the title, "Talk About Out of Touch," the Times editorialist writes, "The Republican Party paid a steep price for race-baiting in the presidential campaign. ... We thought after all that ó and, oh yes, losing the election ó everyone in the Republican Party leadership would have figured out that race-baiting alienates young, minority and all reasonable voters. Clearly, not everyone has."

Saltsman's distribution of a CD including the song "Barack the Magic Negro" as a Christmas gift to RNC members was first noted by The Hill on December 26. "I look forward to working together in the New Year," Saltsman wrote. "Please enjoy the enclosed CD by my friend Paul Shanklin of the Rush Limbaugh Show."

"Barack the Magic Negro," which was first played on Limbaugh's radio show in March 2007, mocks Obama as being the perfect candidate for white liberals because he is not a "real" black man. Saltsman defended the song as "light-hearted political parod[y]," but liberal websites like Talking Points Memo were quick to identify it as "racially charged."

The Times goes on to note that the distribution of the song by Saltsman, who served as Mike Huckabee's campaign manager during last spring's Republican primaries, "has split the Republican leadership. One faction thinks the parody is just fine and seems prepared to defend it to the death. The other is condemning it and shuddering at its political consequences."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has blasted Saltsman, saying, "This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it."

The Times concludes that Saltsman "could still be vaulted into the chairmanís seat by hard-core committee members who resent the explosion of criticism and have learned nothing from the last election. Maybe they like the hole their party is standing in and want to dig it even deeper. Thatís their right, but it does the country no good."