Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Romney's Spokesman Offers Lame Excuse For Massachusetts Governor's Naive Use Of Racial Epithet

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a likely 2008 Republican presidential candidate, kind of, sort of apologized yesterday for naively using a racial epithet during a speech Saturday in Iowa.

Speaking before 100 supporters in Ames, Romney used the term "tar baby" to describe the troubled Big Dig construction project in Boston. "The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," he said.

Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, told the Associated Press that Romney "was unaware that some people find the term objectionable and he's sorry if anyone's offended."

That's lame for several reasons:

1) Romney wants to be a national politician. He should know better. There are lots of dated phrases people still use. In 1984, then-Democratic Presidential Candidate Jesse Jackson used the "colloquial" term "Hymies" to describe Jews and "Hymietown" to describe New York City. Those comments, along with other things Jackson did that upset Jewish voters, continues to tarnish his image today.

2) White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, at his first press conference in May, raised eyebrows for his use of the term "tar baby." The left criticized him, the right defended him, but given all the press it received, it should have made it onto Romney's radar.

3) "He's sorry if anyone's offended," isn't the same as saying, "He's sorry." It's an apology that passes the responsibility onto the offended. In effect, Fehrnstrom is saying that Romney isn't sure what he said was offensive -- since only "some people find the term objectionable" -- which discounts the credibility of the apology.

Some black Republicans said they remained outraged.

"Tar baby is a totally inappropriate phrase in the 21st century," Larry Jones, a civil rights activist, told the AP. "He thinks he's presidential timber, but all he's shown us is arrogance."


Anonymous soothsayer said...

My local quiz came up with NO ONE who knew it was a slur. We all knew the Uncle Remus analogy. Just saying....

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Norquist Nemesis said...

Ah....the old "I'm sorry you misunderstood" excuse.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Finnfan said...


This just came up a few weeks ago with Tony Snow. Before that, I hadn't heard that term in about 35 years.

I almost wonder if this is orchestrated ignorance.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous fishwax said...

orchestrated ignorance
great phrase!

11:22 AM  
Anonymous bluerum said...

Romney is a lame excuse for a governor. He hates Massachusetts and takes advantage of every opportunity to give the commonwealth the back of his hand.

I still can't understand why the people of the state voted his sorry ass in.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous sallyseven said...

Fernstrom is lame also. Romney is a mess and I know I didn't vote for him. I had him figured out the min, he opened his mouth. At least his father and I remember him was a fairly decent man. Mittens is not.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Gormy Cuss said...

Absolutely right about the phrasing.

It's the kind of apology a petulant child would offer. "I'm sorry that you walked into my fist."

11:25 AM  
Anonymous EST said...

Romney is an arrogant SOB to the point of offensiveness. He maintains a public persona that apparently satisfies many of his constituents but even the minimum amount of reading up on him that I've done tells me he is unfit for the job he currently occupies, let alone any bigger scene.
He will never get it and needs to be sidelined at the earliest opportunity.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous yellowcanine said...

Ah, the back handed "apology". I am sorry if ANYONE'S offended.

Ok, so that puts it right on the offendee. It is not that Romney daid anything offensive, you see, it is that there are all of these sensitive people that are easily offended. How about, "I am sorry I used offensive language. It was not intentional but I should have known that it was a poor choice of words. It won't happen again." Now that would be an apology.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Finnfan said...

It's a shout-out to the racist Republican base that is relatively easy to deny later.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous patcox2 said...

The sorry excuse that, umm, its not a slur?

Tar referring to stickiness, and a tar baby being an old metaphor for something you don't want to pick up because it'll get all over you?

Sometimes, when the hypersensitive and the professional victims shift into umbrage overdrive, it is appropriate to put the blame for their offendedness on themselves.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous wtmusic said...

Coming off as a complete ignoramus is about the best he could hope for.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Gonnabuymeagun said...

If they want to use a metaphor for bogging onesself down in a fight one can't win, leave out the "baby" bit and say something to the effect of "getting into a fist fight with a tar pit"

11:30 AM  
Anonymous IanDB1 said...

Republican Apology

Repuke: You're an asshole.
Person: Hey, I'm offended that you called me an asshole!
Repuke: I'm sorry if you're offended that I called you an asshole.
Person: Hey, that's not a real apology.
Repuke: You're not going to make me hug that Tarbaby.
Person: Hey...

1:32 PM  
Anonymous samsingh said...

he's pretty stupid if he doesn't know what it means

1:32 PM  

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