‘Tar baby’ lawmaker bans protests at his office

By David Edwards
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 10:56 EDT
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The Republican U.S. Representative from Colorado who compared President Barack Obama to a “tar baby” has implemented a no-protesting rule at his Colorado Springs office.

During a radio interview late last month, Rep. Doug Lamborn said that Republicans shouldn’t participate in debt ceiling negotiations with the president because they would also be blamed for policies that “failed the American people.”

“I don’t even want to have to be associated with him,” Lamborn explained. “It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and you can’t get away.”

The concept of a “tar baby” originated in African folklore and was popularized by one of Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories. In its original context, the term means “something used to entrap a person” but has also been used as a derogatory term for black people.

“Tar Baby is clearly a racist term, and Congressman Lamborn should apologize for using it, just as other Republican leaders like Mitt Romney and John McCain have in the past,” AM760 radio host David Sirota said.

After the media picked up on his comment, Lamborn’s office issued a public apology to Obama.

“Lamborn was attempting to tell a radio audience last week that the President’s policies have created an economic quagmire for the nation and are responsible for the dismal economic conditions our country faces,” a statement by his office said. “He regrets that he chose the phrase ‘tar baby,’ rather than the word ‘quagmire.’ The Congressman is confident that the President will accept his heartfelt apology.”

The Colorado Springs blog Not My Tribe noted last week that in the wake of public outrage over Lamborn’s comments, his offices now have a rule against protests.

“Private Property — No Soliciting, No Protesting, No Loitering,” a sign outside the congressman’s office reads.

“A U.S. Congressman should not be declaring his public taxpayer-funded congressional office ‘private property’ and shouldn’t be putting a sign out telling his constituents they have no right to peaceably assemble and protest,” Sirota told The Huffington Post. “That’s just fundamentally un-American.”

But that rule seems to only apply to Lamborn’s detractors, as supporters were able to rally outside his office Friday.

Image credit: Eric Verlo

– with earlier reporting by Eric W. Dolan

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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