Is Michele Bachmann's "tar baby" blast of President Obama a racial slur? [VIDEO]

Thumbnail image for michele bachmann handout 200.jpg
Bachmann finds herself in hot water after making a racially insensitive remark.
During a Wednesday interview with The Shark Tank, a Florida-based conservative blog, Michele Bachmann said that President Obama's recent effort to crack down on oil speculators is akin to "waving a tar baby in the air."

"Tar baby" is a racially charged, controversial phrase that has gotten politicians in trouble before. In 2006, Mitt Romney used the term to reference Boston's Big Dig construction project. He later apologized. John McCain apologized after using the term in 2007, and Republican Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn apologized last year for saying working with Obama is "like touching a tar baby."

The Oxford English Dictionary (but not the print version of its American counterpart) defines "tar baby" as a derogatory term used for "a black or a Maori."

The term originates from folklore. In Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus stories, the meaning of "tar baby" was pretty literal -- it was associated with "sticky situation." But Urban Dictionary notes that the racist connotation of "tar baby" comes from a children's story in which the dark skin and seeming ignorance of slaves was explained by the idea that black children were baptized in tar, which made them dark and dumb. Granted, Urban Dictionary isn't the most reputable source when it comes to deciding the meaning of words, but "tar baby" has unquestionably acquired a racist flavor over the years.

Here's video of the Bachmann interview. Her controversial remarks begin just after 1:45:And here's a transcript of just her "tar baby" comment:
This is just about waiving a tar baby in the air and saying that something else is a problem. I have never seen a more irresponsible President who is infantile in the way that he continually blames everyone else for his failure to first diagnose the problem and second to address the problem.
The Miami New Times, comparing Bachmann's gaffe with Romney's, speculates that Michele's use of the term could perhaps be even more controversial. "She's discussing the policies of an African-American president, and then just one sentence later characterizes President Obama as baby-like himself by calling him 'infantile,'" the New Times notes.

Bachmann has not yet responded to the firestorm of publicity her remarks have generated.

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EditorJP
EditorJP

I am less concerned with Bachmann's comment than on how the MSM COMPLETELY ignored Øbama's endorsement of the Trayvon lynch mob with his "if I had a son he would have looked like Trayvon", as well as Øbama and Holders DERELICTION OF DUTY in not going after the New Black Panthers with their Zimmerman wanted posters.

If there are race riots this summer then Obama and the MSM bear joint responsibility for any and all blood spilled.

Mn Voter
Mn Voter

Wow! We need to Impeach the politician who speculates. Start with those Politicians who back Solendra like Obama - Pelosi - Klobuchar. Listen to the woman - she is right. Obama is the problem. No Oil, No Oil Pipeline, No Coal, No Nuke, No Farmers Kids working on the farm, are you people who vote for Obama listening to the idiot. After 3 1/2 years he is still the problem with his speculating on everything "Green" that puts money into his campaign pocket. Biggest crook since Nixon. Obama is an empty suit FRAUD!

Robert
Robert

they are all white and all republicans

Newtconk
Newtconk

thank god nobody voted for this cant.

Ridg
Ridg

It is quite likely that it wasn't intended to be racist. She's just too dense to know any better, which could very well be worse...Good grief, can you imagine her negotiating with a volatile foreign country/culture? 

Anonymous
Anonymous

with a big stick.  we don't need to be walking on eggshells

WhiteyMcGee
WhiteyMcGee

Sugar MaMa, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Baby...........Sugar is white......does that make it racist?

Djcurt1
Djcurt1

something is really wrong with this woman, She sound like a whinning alarm going off when it does not need too. I feel sorry for her she is a looser and she is being pimp by the Republican leadership to carry out a losing effort to try and defeat Chief Obama.She is nothing but a gofer-- go for anything a Republican hooker. djcurt1

Jeepers
Jeepers

You should be very niggardly in your use of the tar baby metaphor lest somebody with a limited grasp of it's true meaning be offended.

Gannieca
Gannieca

I wish we could tar and feather Bachman and then kick her out of the State.. She is shameful. 

mplstim
mplstim

TYPO FIX:  It was dumb that  Bachmann turned her overdrive on Obama with this image... but it's also worth noting that windsurfer dude John Kerry used the same image referring to John McCain getting stuck over an Obama position ....and Kerry was calling Obama the t-baby....

mplstim
mplstim

 It was dumb that  Bachmann turned her overdrive on Obama with this image... but it's also worth nothing that windsurfer dude John Kerry used the same image referring to John McCain getting stuck over an Obama position..(And interesting that you, news aggregator RuPar, misstated that fact, blaming McCain, although the article you link to makes it clear it was Kerry) .almost more politically/culturally tone-deaf and apparently racially charged... However, it seems experts agree that many such as Bachmann and Kerry use that image and term without thinking of what might seem the obvious racial tones.....  And again RuPar selectively quotes the OED: it's first definition speaks of the non-racial history of the term's use....and the similar image found in the folklore of many cultures, including American Indian ones with no African antecedent known, using pine tar as the sticky stuff....so yes, politically tone-deaf of the randy Bachmann, but arguably not racist or even racial, in intent....

Where You At?
Where You At?

You liberals hate Bachmann with so much disgust........only because she tells the truth.  Keep on supporting Barry.  His campaign song this coming fall will be Fleetwood Mac's "Tell me Lies.  Tell Me Sweet Little Lies". 

Gannieca
Gannieca

I don't know about the Liberials but she is an embarrassment for our state.  she is rude, shameless, bigotted, small minded, racists .. I could go on on and on.  

Faringyal
Faringyal

Tell me lies, I guess you are use to it because that is all the Republicans do is LIE! Remember they didn't want to support the payroll tax but they don't want the top 1% to increase their taxes.  If it wasn't for the election this fall, they would have let it expired but I guess that would have been ok with you Mr. intelligence.  It always baffles me that people will support Republicans and they never implement anything that is in their best interest. Oh yeah, they relate to people like you on your religious p.o.v and nothing else and that is ok with you. SMH 

Raven Rant
Raven Rant

So, according to Bachmann, President Obama wants to wave 'a sticky situation' in the air? The fact that this use of the term 'tar baby' makes no coherent sense by any definition indicates she had another motivation for using the term.

roger
roger

No shite, dick tracy!

LA Vikings Fan
LA Vikings Fan

Cat fight with her and Franson.  Could sell tickets and pay off the national debt!

vitajex
vitajex

The thing about this story that I find so surprising is that anyone wants to interview Michele Bachmann anymore.

Albatross
Albatross

Santorum called Obama a "government n------". Bachmann calls him a "tar baby."  This is how these Republican elite talk in private, and they just let it slip out in public from time to time. It's not surprising coming from a beard like Bachmann.

roger
roger

Lighten up dude.  Barry's a halfbreed, not a tarbaby!

Bonnie
Bonnie

What type of person uses that word in conversation? Shame on her!!

68automag
68automag

she'll never go anywhere past where she is now.  15 minutes and counting...

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