Tags: Barack Obama | Haley Barbour | tar babies | apologizes | comments

Haley Barbour Apologizes for Use of Term 'Tar Babies'

By    |   Monday, 10 Nov 2014 02:57 PM

Yet another longtime career politician and lobbyist has found himself in a sticky political situation after using the old Uncle Remus term "tar babies" in a phone conversation with 100 clients of his lobbying firm, BGR Group.

Haley Barbour, 67, former two-term governor of Mississippi, sent a lengthy email message to the website Politico, somewhat apologizing for using the term, which could be considered offensive to African-Americans, in reference to President Barack Obama's policies, Politico reports.

"The term 'tar baby' is often used to describe a sticky situation. In 19th-century popular fiction, the 'Tar-Baby' was a doll made of tar and turpentine used to entangle Br'er Rabbit.

"But it has also been used at times in the past as a racial slur, according to Random House. When political figures have invoked it in recent years, there has been disagreement about how racially charged the term is," wrote Barbour, well known in the past for using sometimes salty, folksy phrases.

The term has caught several politicians in the past, notably Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who used it to refer to federal oversight of oil markets; Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who personally apologized to Obama in 2011 for using the phrase; and Republican Virginia state Sen. Frank Ruff in commenting on Medicaid expansion, the Huffington Post reported.

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney used it in referring to the "Big Dig" project in Boston in 2006, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., used it in reference to federal involvement in a child custody case, Politico notes. Both later apologized.

Barbour wrote to Politico, "The Oxford American Dictionary defines the term as 'a difficult problem that's only aggravated by attempts to solve it.' This is exactly what I meant and the context in which I used the term."

"In the Q and A portion of the call, there was a discussion about whether Democrats will run from or embrace the president's policies and record in 2016. I replied that once candidates embraced the president's policies and record, they will be stuck with them — no matter how unpopular they are. Hence the literary reference.

"If someone takes offense, I regret it. But, again, neither the context nor the connotation was intended to offend."

A source who was on the telephone call told Politico, "He said there is no one who will run for president who will endorse Obama's issues, because Obama's issues are 'tar babies.'"

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Yet another longtime career politician and lobbyist has found himself in a sticky political situation after using the old Uncle Remus term "tar babies" in a phone conversation with 100 clients of his lobbying firm, BGR Group.
Haley Barbour, tar babies, apologizes, comments
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2014-57-10
Monday, 10 Nov 2014 02:57 PM
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