Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stupid People: Tasteless Jokes Edition

If you haven't heard about the MagicNegroGate scandal yet (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write), the basic gist is that Chip Saltsman, a high ranking Republican politician who's trying to become the next head of the Republican National Committee and the de facto leader of the GOP for the next 4 years, decided to send his colleagues a CD with the song "Barrack the Magic Negro" as a Christmas gift.

As you might imagine, this has not been particularly well received by most people. For his part, Saltsman insists that the CD, titled We Hate the USA, is clearly satire, and was supposed to be funny.

Two Things:
1) There is a big difference between supposed to be funny, and actually funny. This song is funny in a Don Imus kind of way; you can see how it could be funny to some people, but only if you take a pretty perverse view of the subject already. Plus, there's the sheer boneheadedness of the move: was there really no nagging voice in the back of Saltsman's mind that this might not be a particularly bright idea, that he didn't need this hanging over his head during his campaign to become head of the RNC?

2) Completely separate from Saltsman's boneheadedness is the complete general cluelessness of what's left of the GOP base. Even a few years ago, the party's response would have been something along the lines of: "Look, it was a stupid thing to do, but ultimately harmless ... we're keeping you around cause we like you, but not in a leadership position where you'll just be an embarrassment." Indeed, that's what actually happened a few years ago when the GOP removed Trent Lott from his Senate leadership post after he said the country would have been better off if Strom Thurmand had won the presidency on a segregationist platform.

But that's not what's happening this time: instead, people are rallying around Saltsman, the mere fact that somebody somewhere said it was a dumb thing to do is now the single most important reason to support him, and anyone who disagrees is now an enemy who must be defeated.

Steven Bennen sums up my thoughts nicely:
So, to summarize, a leading candidate to lead the Republican National Committee promoted a song calling the next president a "magic negro." This has improved his chances of getting the job.

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