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Bachmann: Obama Is ‘Waiving A Tar Baby In The Air’

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"Bachmann: Obama Is ‘Waiving A Tar Baby In The Air’"

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Tar Baby character from Disney's "Song of the South"

In a taped interview with Florida conservative blog The Shark Tank, Rep. Michele Bachann (R-MN) used a racially-charged term while attacking President Obama’s economic record. Asked about Obama blocking the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Bachmann said Obama is “waving a tar baby in the air” — a term that carries a long history of controversy in the South:

BACHMANN: 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.

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The term “tar baby” was popularized by the 19th-century Uncle Remus Br’er Fox stories, as a synonym for a sticky situation, but it’s always had a racial undertone. The Oxford English Dictionary says that tar baby is a derogatory term used for “a black or a Maori.” Famed poet Toni Morrison once said of the term, “Tar Baby is also a name, like ‘nigger,’ that white people call black children, black girls, as I recall.”

When Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) compared working with Obama to “touching a tar baby” last year, he was slammed by African-American leaders and quickly apologized to the president in a personal letter.

Presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney had his own “tar baby” situation when he used the term in 2006 to describe Boston’s floundering “Big Dig” construction project. The then-head of the NAACP said Romney “made a bad choice” of words, and a Romney spokesperson promptly issued an apology.

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