The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," he told a crowd of about 100 supporters in Ames, Iowa.
In case you don't quite see it, the phrase was "tar baby". The story helpfully points out:
Black leaders were outraged at his use of the term, which dates to the 19th century Uncle Remus stories, referring to a doll made of tar that traps Br'er Rabbit. It has come to be known as a way of describing a sticky mess, and has been used as a derogatory term for a black person.I blogged about this kind of thing back in May when White House press secretary Tony Snow was "caught" using the exact same phrase. Let me (tiresomely) summarize what I've said in the past:
- It's clear from the context that Romney was
using the term in the "sticky mess" sense.
- While it's no doubt true that the phrase "has been used as a
derogatory term for a black person," Romney was (also clearly)
not doing that.
- In fact, those last two points
should be—and undoubtedly are—clear to
everyone and anyone with a lick of intelligence
who thinks about it for more than half a
- Hence the claim that "Black leaders were outraged" is almost
certainly a complete falsehood.
More accurately: Black leaders decided to pretend they were
outraged at Romney's words.
- Why? Probably to cause exactly the result that occurred: Romney
apologized profusely. Many (not all)
racial/ethnic "leaders" seem to enjoy
displaying faux outrage over "slurs" that everyone knows
are imaginary. It's a meaningless symbolic ritual that only serves
to boost their egos.
It would also be nice if Mitt Romney had enough of a spine to make these points himself. He'd almost certainly gain more votes than he'd lose.