***JC scolded me for not cross-posting here (“You don’t write! You don’t call!”), so if you have complaints about being directed to The Raw Story, you should probably email him. Although I have it on good authority that his response will be “I don’t give a fuck.” Cheers! -ABLxx]
We’re one step closer to the Ni-CLANG! Event Horizon, people:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) blasted President Obama following his proposed “crackdown” on firms found to be manipulating the oil market, saying he is “waving a tar baby in the air” as a distraction from high gas prices.
“This is just about waving a tar baby in the air and saying that something else is a problem,” Bachmann said in an interview Wednesday with The Shark Tank, a conservative news organization that covers Florida politics. “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. It’s always everyone else’s fault.”
She said her message for the president is, “Get over it,” and stop blaming everyone else.
The term “tar baby” is a racially loaded phrase coined in the “Brer Rabbit” tales. The term generally means a “sticky situation,” but has also been used as a derogatory term for a black person.
Oh yes she did! And she’s not the first!
Last year, when Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said that associating with President Obama was “like touching a tar baby,” I wrote this:
Doug Lamborn (R-CO) is opposed to Obama and everything he does. Lamborn wants to stay as far away from Obama as possible. Lamborn doesn’t even want to touch Obama because Obama is like a tar baby, and if Lamborn touches Obama, Lamborn will get stuck or get cooties or some horrifying combination of the two.
Is Lamborn “a racist.”
Should he jump up his own ass and reside there?
Same goes for Michele Bachmann. I’m long past the point of listening to the excuses of those who believe that being called “capital R” Racist is the Worst Thing Evah, and who refuse to take responsibility for the racist shit that they say. Just STOP SAYING AND DOING RACIST SHIT.
Also? I’m going to need Michele Bachmann to stop saying and doing stupid shit. Seriously. What does “waving a tar baby in the air” even mean? As Ta Nehisi-Coates pointed out in 2006, “tar baby” refers to a trap:[read the rest at TRS-ABLC]
As I said (when Fancy Ray McClooney posted it on Facebook): the measure of how stupid these people are is that they think they can say these things, plead innocence, and think they got away with something.
Sure the 27%ers who love them for the racist dogwhistles will be happy to remain deluded that they and their party aren’t racist. But everyone else knows better.
When does the “we are the 27%” movement start?
What could she possibly have imagined she was communicating by likening peoposing to crack down on firms found to be manipulating the oil market to waving a tar baby in the air?
What would one possibly be trying to achieve by waving a tar baby?
It it that the tar baby is stuck to his hand and he’s trying to get it off?
Um… what? How does her analogy work? He’s waving the thing that you don’t want to touch.. but he’s already touching it by waving it.. and then there’s a briar patch at the end (solar energy, maybe)?
Actually, I thought speculation about oil prices really was doing damage to the market. So it would seem, Michelle, that Obama actually has identified an important problem and is doing something about it. In other words, taking responsibility.
Of course, Obama can’t do anything about the real problem that trumps whatever explains current oil prices: it’s running out. I’m sure Michelle has a solution up her sleeve for that one.
Sarah, Proud and Tall
Don’t you feel silly now?
Just because Michelle uses loaded terminology in an entirely inappropriate manner while also calling the President infantile, that doesn’t mean she’s racist.
Just like her hating the fags doesn’t make her a homophobe.
@ABL 2.0: Tea Party 2.0, after all of the populism and antiwar parts were stripped out by the overlords, qualifies as the 27% movement, I think.
Holy crap — how bizarre is this?
Someone has to search through these guy’s statements prior to 2008 and see if ANYONE ever mentioned tar babies, etc., in the context of making a point.
Hmmm. I wonder what they would find?
Something else to watch these 27% act like cornered rats on a sinking ship.
@Sarah, Proud and Tall:
She hates her husband that much?
Gov. Mitt Romney has apologized for referring to the city’s troubled highway commuter tunnel project as a “tar baby” during a fundraiser with Iowa Republicans, saying he did not know anyone would be offended by the term some consider a racial epithet.
I remember the tar baby story. Aside from the fact that melanin got no respect, it did have an important lesson to teach. Some things are such that if you mess with them, you’ll have a hard time getting free. An example from the real world would be the war in Vietnam.
I agree with wrb. Why in the world would Obama be waving this tar baby around?
But since we are on this subject, I have a word of advice for Michele and others:
Attacking our current president because of the color of his skin may well be messing with a tar baby. Perhaps you should think about that.
Why don’t we just stipulate that everything Michele Bachmann says is stupid and unworthy of being taken seriously, and move on?
Your getting crazy about her stupid, inflammatory, racist rhetoric isn’t going to stop her from spewing stupid, inflammatory, racist rhetoric, and it isn’t going to stop the relative handful of idiots who are bought into her insane worldview from staying bought in, so what is this exercise actually expected to accomplish, other than allowing you to feel good about Having Said Something?
She later added, “Anyway, you folks are the real racists for pointing out my boss’ racism.”
And, “The congresswoman has many black friends.”
“infantile” = “boy” squared.
Um, is it that tar is connected in her mind to petroleum products?
Tar sands? The stuff that covers sea birds after massive oil spills?
@ABL 2.0: I’d be happy if a ‘We are not the 27%’ movement started. I’d probably wear the t-shirt.
Burnsey has a point. Maybe we shouldn’t get too worked up over Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, etc. We should just carry on.
She is a stupid woman but not so stupid that she doesn’t know what she is doing. She is singing the 27 percenters song’ and neither she nor they, fine Christians all, mind bearing false witness.
Myself, I never got the sense from reading those stories (years and years ago) that ‘tar baby’ was intended as a slur originally. Compared to all sorts of other actually heinous stuff that was out there, and still is.
But then I re-read the Babar stories now, and the white condescension drips off them like nothing.
@MobiusKlein: Well they are elephants…
@Yutsano: It was the whole ‘look at these civilized folks in Africa trying to have a civilization’ thing. Indicative of sub-conscious racism, rather than overt hatred.
How does Bachmann still have money for a spokesquisling?
Better check the *beep*’s countertops.
The reason they think they can say these things, plead innocence, and think they got away with something is that for a long time now they’ve been saying these things, pleading innocence, and getting away with it.
Because enough people take her seriously to have her on the talk shows and for her to get elected repeatedly as a freaking US congressperson? I actually love hearing all this stupid stuff she says. She’s pushing the envelope for ‘unhinged’ pretty close to the outermost limits, and sometimes it’s just good to get this level of stupid out in the sunlight.
Well at least she didn’t accuse him of shaking the tar baby…
@Li: How could she hate the gays? She’s married to one.
You’re right. ORIGINALLY, ‘tar baby’ was just something that you got stuck to and couldn’t shake off.
However, the term has also been used, for decades if not for a century, as a derogatory term for black people. And in this instance, when Michelle Bachmann uses ‘tar baby’ when the term doesn’t make sense, when what she’s talking about is really a ‘red herring’ if you want to get all colloquial, then you have to believe that what’s oozing from her brain and out her mouth is sheer unacknowledged racism.
She’s saying he’s waving the tar baby in the air so that the pie looks higher and thus the wings can take dream to put food on your family, and not to cut & run.
@MobiusKlein: Well, I suppose the idea that Brer Rabbit confused a thing made of tar wearing a coat for a person who he needed to challenge to a fight for the offense of not saying hello reflects poorly on Brer Rabbit. But in most other instances, Brer Rabbit appears to be rather bright. Odd that he’d miss that trap.
I’m disappointed in her. She really needed to try and work in the talking point about the president eating dog meat as a child.
She must have missed that memo.
@burnspbesq: Yes, ignoring problems always makes them go away.
Yeah, because ignoring Rush Limbaugh made his influence go away, and getting worked up about him never hurt him at all.
That’s a very cheap ploy on the part of Bachmann. And by cheap, I don’t mean “niggardly.”
Michele Bachmann doesn’t just look mental, she is mental. She often says things that are mental, e.g. “waving a tar baby in the air”. Analyzing a mental thing that Michele Bachmann said is greatly amusing. Trying to imagine, say, the normally-unflappable Obama desperately waving a tar baby in the air — “AAAAAA! Get it off me! AAAAAA! Get it off me!” — is even more amusing.
Michele Bachmann could contribute a great deal to the world’s happiness, if we would only learn to consider her utterances in the right way.
While we’re on the subject, did anyone else think Romney’s new slogan “Obama isn’t working” was intended to be dogwhistle, in addition to its overt lying-about-the-economy message?
@Comrade Dread: It’s as if he was caught eating a dog and is now waving the tar baby over his head like a mouse caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Something like that work for you.
We were probably here when Obama was nominated, and certainly arrived when he was elected.
That people think the utterance of a word will be some sort of definitive racist talisman is ridiculous.
Equally ridiculous is to get distracted by stupid shit that Michelle Bachmann says. It’s what she does. As bemused notes, she is singing the 27 percenters’ song.
You can point it out, maybe make them backpedal for a second, but that’s about it.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Gex: Yes, we have 27% who reliably indicate they are against the sun because Obama likes to go outside to play basketball. But someone in an earlier thread posted some interesting polls. On questions like “who is thinking more of the middle class” Obama would beat Romney by at least 20 points. But, on the question of who they were going to vote for, the difference was +4 for Obama. So there’s an additional 16% who will shoot themselves in the head rather than vote for Obama. I suspect the split is about even on whether it’s because he’s a Democrat or because he’s black, but that really means about 43%.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
IF Oil Speculation is a tar baby in the sense of a trap to make your opponent humiliate themselves it sounds like Obama succeed in Bachmann case.
So, did the racists ruin our only shorthand for the kind of situation that “tar baby” originally described? “Quagmire” doesn’t seem like it would always fit.
@Comrade Dread: And nothing about muslin either.
@El Cid: thanks for the explanation, I see what Bachmann is getting at now.
I think there is definitely racism involved, but what these people say is so completely incoherent, that is difficult to piece together a coherent racist message. And I think at least Bachmann would not consider herself bigoted, but I don’t know about the other guy.
The context of these outbursts is to hide their real plans, which would lose them the next election in a landslide, and try to win on pure emotional appeals to frustration, rage, disgust, hate and fear. They will throw anything at all at anybody at all to see what works, and then keep on hammering on that angle.
I think racist imagery, even if nonsensical and incoherent works, so they will use it.
But the dangerous thing is their attempts to drown out any reasoned debate with appeals to pure emotion.
I’m not saying that the racial angle should be ignored, because it is there (and this is a blog post about the racial angle). But in terms of election and persuading public to support sane policies, whether proposed by Obama or someone else, we need to identify and explain their overall set of tactics and context which forces them to this dangerous and harmful approach to public debate, and it is more than just racism, though as I said, I think it definitely plays a big role.
hells littlest angel
Put your tar baby in the air,
Wave it around like you just don’t care.
Of course it is a dogwhistle.
It’s also pretty stupid phrasing from a guy who hasn’t held a job himself in more than five years, and had a patchy attendance record on the last one he held. He’s setting himself up for a devastating counter attack by the Obama campaign, in addition to being a big red target for late night comedy.
Mike in NC
Let us pray: “Romney/Bachmann 2012”
“If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.”
— Captain Zapp Brannigan
the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady)
Michelle Bachmann is so crazy that even the teatards didn’t show up enough to push her over the early primary finish lines, so as much as I hate to say it, I agree with burnsy. She’s a moron, and everyone not a stone cold moron knows it now too. As long as she’s alive she’s going to stay stupid shit because she’s too stupid to STFU.
@Comrade Dread: That would be Bachmann’s sister in stupid.
I grew up using Tar Baby as a metaphor for something you’ll never be free of if you touch it. Like Scientology.
It wasn’t until an awesome SNL sketch with Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase that I knew it was a racial slur. Too bad. In the Uncle Remus sense it’s useful shorthand.
But yeah, Bachmann has no idea what the sounds coming out of her mouth mean.
Villago Delenda Est
I’m afraid Burnsie has a long history of seeking to ignore a problem and maybe it will go away.
See, for example, his continued support for the boy buggering Roman Catholic Church hierarchy by failing to leave them at the altar, so to speak.
@Suffern ACE: Yes. Just a little effort to include all of the crazy floating around from our congressclowns.
Does anyone else ever get the feeling that we’re all part of some bizarre psychological experiment to test the limits of our patience and the next phase involves someone naming his/her horse as a Senator?
dogwhistle? I’d say it’s an air horn.
Romney seems to be gearing up for a very nasty, very negative campaign.
Not sure how this fits with the idea that he has to move the center and reassure moderates for the general election. Maybe being a hectoring bullying BS artist all Romney knows.
I think it increases the chances Romney will lose, but not sure.
I think they need to be called out on their overall strategy, which is hiding their complete lack of acceptable ideas, their hiding their true plans under a barrage of dishonest, incoherent and vicious emotional appeals. Racism will play a part in that to the extent that it is useful, but we have to attack more than just the racism, at least for election, if not for this particular blog post.
Culture of Truth
None of it makes any sense. Obama should hold a press conference and announce he personally ordered gas prices to be raised?
@Chat Noir: Yeah, I read that, posted about it.
After my initial thoughts and rage screaming of “What the f***?!” and “WHY DO YOU PEOPLE KEEP PUTTING A MICROPHONE IN FRONT OF HER?” I thought about it, the more I came to admire her skills for taking all of the right wing talking points, shoving them into a Cuisinart and coming out with something that takes their individual quotient of stupidity and multiplies it by a factor of eleventy.
Are we absolutely certain that she’s not really a hard liberal, Andy Kaufman style performance artist?
@ABL 2.0: You mean the Tea People?
The wingers love to walk right up to the line, occasionally crossing it, and dare you to call them racist.
The Romney camp is eagerly awaiting someone to point out the obvious racial stereotyping in their ‘Obama isn’t working’ campaign slogan. The minute that happens, they’ll accuse Obama of using the race card.
@Brachiator: Well, yeah, you know what happens when you cross an event horizon?
You wind up in a BLACK hole! (Hurr hurr hurr…)
And apparently, if you listen to these creeps, some holes are blacker than others…
comrade scott's agenda of rage
Everytime I see a Dubya bumper sticker from 04 I think “The Great, White American Asshole”. Now I think it means “We Are the 27%”.
@Calouste: It’s also a stolen slogan, which was much better in the original English (“Labour Isn’t Working” — Maggie Thatcher) because at least that was a clever play on words. This is just nuts, not to mention a dog whistle, and it doesn’t get better when the party of GWB complains that the President spends too much time playing golf! It’s going to be The Summer of Raised Eyebrows and Gnashed Teeth, aka the Season of WTF.
to all the White people who don’t think ‘tar baby’ is offensive.
go up to a random Black person and yell tar baby at them.
see what happens.
It stuns me that the right thinks that’s going to be a ding on the president. What child is allowed to set the menu?! I ate LIVER when I was a kid, and it sure wasn’t because I wanted to!
But the right’s notions of blame are so weird – I remember when the wingers liked to call Clinton “William Jefferson Blythe”, like it was some fault of his that his father died before he was born and his stepfather adopted him.
Just Some Fuckhead
I think we should thank Bachmann for not only stepping in the tar baby, but also for pointing this out:
Gas prices have already started coming down some in my neck of the woods. Funny how that happens any time the president makes noise about how it’s going to be investigated.
‘Obama isn’t working’
They want to work up a gestalt of disgust based on race, based on the idea of ineffectual inadequate blackman/liberal, welfare loafers, the poor.
Repeating myself, but I think the idea is to throw up stuff that doesn’t mean anything, walking right at the line but deniable, and appeals to all sorts of prejudice on a number of issues, with many intersections at multiple levels, as Newt would say. Race is just a part of it.
They want to drown out everything with dishonest and meaningless irrational appeals to emotion, ’cause if they said what the really want to do with the country, they would lose big in November. So they have to resort to that approach. I think calling them out for that is just as important as reacting to each and every incoherent and nearly meaningless buzz word and whatever crazy or hate button they chose to push on a given day.
They think they’re so cute with their snide insults and disrepect.
Can’t wait till November when they get what they will certainly have more than earned – a huge helping of STFU and GTFO.
At which point they will have to face the fact that all their racism and misogynistic BS got them was ANOTHER loss.
according to bachmann’s office, she will no longer use the term ‘tar baby’ due to the racial overtones it brings.
now she will use the much better term ‘tar boy‘.
The only metaphor I can think of which is even close is to “wave a bloody shirt,” but that’s meant to rile people up based on someone’s martyrdom, not as a misdirection type of distraction.
Who knows what she was really trying to say. She’s just so caught up in the paranoia and conspiracy-mongering of the Right that she’s even less comprehensible than she was a couple of years ago. Which is saying something.
[howya doing these days?]
ABL, so glad I popped over to TRS and read the rest because the last two paragraphs were things of beauty.
@Yutsano: @MobiusKlein: Not to mention the whole “I learned to be civilized from the French” thing.
Miss type your email, end up on moderation. Like a 3rd grader with bad penmanship. My bad.
I think the Ni-CLANG event horizon, and quite possibly the Wingularity itself will happen during one of the general election debates. I’m leaning towards the Vice Presidential one, because I’m not even sure that Mitt, in his wealthy Mormon bubble has ever actually heard the N-bomb and nor any idea how to deploy it…
@rikryah: I would prefer not to.
@Just Some Fuckhead: I see what you did there.
Their appeals to strong negative emotions will morph continually. And they will leave off the race angle when it suits them.
When health care comes up, they will use vague nonsensical slogans like Communist Nazi totalitarian death panels. When climate change comes up, then obscure global conspiracies of murderous vegan climate scientists in league with the humanity hater Democrats foisting social engineering.
Even the race baiting will morph as needed: inadequate wimpy affirmative action black man in over his head, to shiftless lazy welfare bum, to diabolical and dangerous muslin super villain, to savage sending his brutal hordes out to take you wimmin.
Just playing whop a mole with what they are gearing up to commit won’t work.
Heard a conservative in Canada — Canada! — yesterday saying Obama was lazy, spent all his time playing golf and was “the stupidest President the U.S. has ever had”, oh yeah, teleprompter. I felt like crying (after I stopped myself from punching him out).
Thus, the Schwarzschild radius.
Yes, these are definitely a bunch of creeps. Unfortunately, there is little that will slow them down, although if they can be thoroughly defeated politically, they may crawl back into the sewer for a while.
So when Obama responds and says that Bachmann is “just flapping her mouth like a two-bit wh0re over gas prices” she’s not going to have a problem with it, right? Right? Because we all know that phrase just innocently means that she’s being “insincere.”
I mean, who could take offense?
I don’t think anyone’s trying to argue that “tar baby” is not an offensive term. I think the point is more that, when it first appeared in the Uncle Remus stories, it didn’t have any racial connotations. Those insulting connotations got added later thanks to the magic of white people being assholes.
Kind of like how “idiot” and “moron” used to be medical terms to specify exactly how developmentally impaired someone was that then got turned into insults.
Ann Rmoney’s dressage horse for VP!!!
“Tar baby” is something you grab and then can’t get rid of. It’s a perfect description I can’t find a substitute for, and I can understand when someone uses it that way.
But what the hell does Bachmann meant by “tar baby” in that statement? I have to assume she moronically took the term as an insult.
@rikryah: Not doubting that it’s offensive, just not in the habit of yelling random phrases in front of any random person.
I kind of think she means “strawman.”
Up until now, the NI-CLANG! event horizon was entirely theoretical. Few have ever lobbed these sorts of slurs at a sitting president before.
Actually, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and Harding were all accused of being secretly black, with the bad word being used to describe them in each instance.
(Reminds me of the apology I got from the woman who outed me as gay at work: “Gosh, I never would have said that if I had known it was true!”
@JoyfulA: She means Obama is trying to create a fake diversion that people will stick to. It’s like a combination of false flag, strawman, and tar baby. Like an effigy made of flags and straw, stuck together with tar, on a pole. You know, Typical Obama.
@muddy: YES! (But which one?)
@pete: The one with the biggest package.
Or perhaps raising a red herring? Either way I don’t it means what she thinks it means….
@FlipYrWhig: I know it shouldn’t, but that made me laugh.
And gas prices are actually on average about .04 higher today than they were a year ago. And Michelle Bachmann is so fucking stupid, she can’t even figure out to properly employ a dog-whistle.
Okay. Got some family medical issues that are taking too much of my time, but other than that, pretty well.
She’s a high-profile member of Congress and made a serious run at the nomination. Of course it’s worth calling her out. She’s not just some random idiot on Facebook.
Absofuckinglutely. I was actually kind of shocked when I saw it yesterday on TV.
I know, I know… how could I still find stuff like this shocking?
Also, my first thought was, “Wouldn’t waving tar around get kind of messy?” I guess Michele’s never had her driveway re-surfaced.
@GaBuck: Yes. But remember, people weren’t paying attention to that last year. Never underestimate the right’s ability to convince people that they are living in a disaster when there is nothing of the sort. Remember, we’re practically in Weimar Germany right now, what with inflation so high and gays entertaining folks at caberets. We’ve been in Weimar for three years, apparently.
And a sustained 8% unemployment (while sucky, I agree) is not the great depression and the holocaust rolled up in some stalinist gulag either.
@FlipYrWhig: So maybe she meant an attractive nuisance like out of tort law? Sheesh, you’d think that would be on the tip of the tongue of a lawyer, unlike tar baby.
@Argon: “raising a red herring”? I think I’ll steal that one, as soon as I find a good place to use it.
She later clarified her remarks by stating that “some of my best friends are black”.
@JoyfulA: My favorite hybrid cliché was from someone I knew in high school — he described his school experience as “like beating my head against a dead horse.”
I’d seriously discourage searching for the meaning behind her mouth-noises. That way lies madness.
@ABL 2.0: Has it ever stopped? They worship the Founding Fathers to a fetish level after all.
Or, alternatively, Burnsey is simply brandishing the same knee-jerk contrarianism he brings to almost every thread, and is demonstrably full of shit. Ask Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh whether or not they’d prefer we had just ignored them and carried on. I’ll wait.
The only way to defeat these clowns is by pointing and laughing, and shining a bright light on their awfulness. We’ve tried sticking our fingers in our ears and going “lalalalalala”. The result has been decades of conservative messaging dominating our public discourse without any meaningful opposition.
@AB: I was trying to come up with another term to describe a trap that just gets worse the more you struggle, and I think “snare” comes pretty close.
Best comment on the thread… I don’t think we can be sure that she isn’t some weird performance artist…
And those semi-crossed twinkle eyes of hers — Wow… just brings up images of genetic problems in addition to mental and cognitive problems..
@hells littlest angel: I just made a noise that was a cross between a snort and a laugh. Well done.
@TaMara (BHF): Thank you! When I wrote it, I couldn’t stop laughing. Then after I published it I was worried it was one of those “only funny in my head” things. If one person appreciated it, I am satisfied.
@Just Some Fuckhead: Wow. Long time no see! ::waves tar baby back::
Waving the tarred shirt? Waving the bloody baby? Waving the bloody ‘tard?
the fugitive uterus
this woman seriously needs to be medicated
the fugitive uterus
@Elie: after the cookie incident, i’m starting to feel the same way about Romney.
John M. Burt
@ABL 2.0: “When does the ‘Wed Are the 27%’ movement start?”
Heck, back in December of 2008 they were saying ‘We Are the Three Percent’ (by which they intended to refer to the estimated 3% of colonists who took an active part in fighting British colonial rule). Personally, I doubt that the ones who are willing to commit violence against the United States amount to even three percent of three percent of three percent, but alas, those few thousand sociopaths are plenty enough to be dangerous . . . .