Is Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn a racist? (UPDATED)

The race card is played once again:


“Tar Baby” — from time to time, this ugly racially charged phrase has come up in our political discourse. Most often, the term is applied to a situation or a thing. John McCain, for example, used it to describe divorces. Likewise, Mitt Romney used it to describe the Big Dig. In both instances, the Republican leaders apologized for using such a loaded word — even though they hadn’t used it to describe an actual person.

The same cannot be said for Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who used the term to describe President Obama in a statewide radio interview on Friday. You can listen to that interview here, which we examined on my KKZN-AM760 radio show this morning. Here’s the key excerpt:

LAMBORN: Even if some people say “well, the Republicans should have done this, or should have done that,” they will hold the President responsible. Now, I don’t even want to be associated with him, it’s like touching a, a tar baby and you get it…you know you’re stuck and you’re part of the problem and you can’t get away.

It has been questioned whether the term “tar baby” is always a racist term. In 2006, Ta-Nehisi Coates explored this issue in Time magazine. “Is tar baby a racist term?” he asked. “Like most elements of language, that depends on context. Calling the Big Dig a tar baby is a lot different than calling a person one.” In this case, that context is quite clear.

This, of course, doesn’t absolve McCain and Romney, who plead ignorance to the term’s racial implications and then promptly apologized. But it is to say that in Lamborn’s case, the ignorance plea would be absurd because he explicitly used the term to describe a black person.


I can’t be surprised by McCain and Romney apologizing for doing nothing wrong… they are both the kind of Republicans I abhor but I hope Lamborn does no such thing.  The man said nothing wrong.  Nothing at all.  The context and usage is clear:

Uncle Remus is a collection of animal stories, songs, and oral folklore, collected from Southern United States blacks. Many of the stories are didactic, much like those of Aesop‘s fables and the stories of Jean de La Fontaine. Uncle Remus is a kindly old slave who serves as a storytelling device, passing on the folktales to children gathered around him.

Br’er Rabbit (“Brother Rabbit”) is the main character of the stories, a likable character, prone to tricks and trouble-making who is often opposed by Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. In one tale, Br’er Fox constructs a lump of tar and puts clothing on it. When Br’er Rabbit comes along he addresses the “tar baby” amiably, but receives no response. Br’er Rabbit becomes offended by what he perceives as Tar Baby’s lack of manners, punches it, and becomes stuck.[2] Using the phrase “tar baby” to refer to the idea of “a problem that gets worse the more one struggles against it” became part of the wider culture of the United States in the mid-20th century.

I guess today we’d have to call Walt Disney a racist… after all, he made a very popular movie based on the Uncle Remus stories called Song of the South, one I remember seeing and enjoying as a kid.  And I’d like to think that we’ve made giant leaps forward in how blacks are treated since the movie’s heyday.  But apparently, the election of a half-black President means so very little to some.

I would respect Obama much more if he were to come out and call this whole Lamborn thing what it is.

Much to do about nothing.

I won’t hold my breath.

UPDATE: Lamborn disappoints:

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Co.) has apologized for the controversial “tar baby” comment he made on a local radio show last week while discussing President Barack Obama and the debt ceiling debate.

On Monday, Lamborn sent a personal letter to President Obama “apologizing for using a term some find insensitive,” his office said in a press release. The congressman was “attempting to tell a radio audience last week that the president’s policies have created an economic quagmire for the nation and are responsible for the dismal economic conditions our country faces. He regrets that he chose the phrase ‘tar baby,’ rather than the word ‘quagmire.’ The congressman is confident that the president will accept his heartfelt apology.”

Lamborn told the Denver Post “I absolutely intended no offense, and if this is at all on his radar screen, I am sure that he will not take offense and he’ll be happy to accept my apology because he is a man of character.”

Disappoints in more ways than one.

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  • Anonymous

    So I’d be a RACIST! if I were talking about pornography and getting involved in dealings with Larry Flint and described it as touching a “tar baby”.

    That about right?

    • Anonymous

      If that was a comment trying to make a comparison, you are so far off base it’s not even funny.  what you said made no sense.  What Doug Lamborn said WAS racist and to deny it means you are either extremely naive or someone just like him. 

      • Or to deny it means that you have an accurate understanding of the “tar baby” story.

    • Anonymous

      On second hand, no, it wouldn’t make you a racist, it would make you a pervert.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for your intelligent insight and discourse.

        Certainly glad I did not use the word niggardly.

        • Anonymous

          Tell me oh learned one.  How do you perceive Joey Biden’s comment re: Obama, his being “clean, bright and articulate”?  That wasn’t condescendingly racist?

          • jim_m

            Words such as “Tar Baby”, “Niggardly”, etc are only racist when uttered by a conservative.

            I don’t know if Lamborn’s comments are racist.  That would require knowing his intent.  Not knowing how he intended his words it is hard to say.  What should be obvious is that the use of the phrase was astonishingly stupid.  Any idiot would understand that it would be taken as racist even if it was used by an ignorant fool to describe the situation at hand and not intended as a racist slur at all.

            The problem with the left is that they are so fast to jump to accusations of racism that the word racist has lost nearly all its meaning.  Sometimes people aren’t racist they are just stupid.  I’d bet that Rep Lamborn is just stupid.  Very stupid.

          • Anonymous

            Wasting your time Jim.  These two have missed the point entirely.

            Wonder how they’d classify Rev Wright? 

          • jim_m

            I’d guess that they would say that Rev Wright cannot be racist because he is black.  That’s the way the left thinks.  Only white people can be racist. 

            As for the lefty trolls here.  You’re right.  They don’t want to bother to understand what a person says and what they mean.  They would rather just have their two minute hate.  Like their leaders they would rather hate than understand and find a common ground.

          • Anonymous

            non racial terms used in a non racial way by a conservative is racist, very racist terms ie, Uncle Tom, Oreo, House N, used by liberals to describe conservative minorities no big deal.

        • Anonymous

          It wouldn’t make any difference. You confirmed that you of the same family of retard backwoods Republicans who from time-to-time show their real faces of hate. I know Lamborn and he is a racist.

          • Anonymous

            You avoided my question re: Biden.  I don’t know Lamborn.  So what else has he done that qualifies him as a “racist!”.

            Once again, so you’ll get my point.  IS BIDEN A RACIST!?

            “You confirmed that you of the same family of retard backwoods Republicans who from time-to-time show their real faces of hate.”

            You PERSONALLY know me that well, huh?

          • Anonymous

            You can’t hide from who you are and what you have been all of your life. You don’t PERSONALLY have to know someone to understand what they represent. Racism, you speak it and you live it.

          • Anonymous

            Okay.  It that case, not knowing you, you’re a fucking asshole.

            Feel better?

          • Anonymous

            I feel fine. I’m glad you have been able to remove that heavy burden off your shoulders. It’s tough being a closet racist. I love it when you bigots expose yourselves with these “slip-of-the-tongue” comments. I bet you love Mark Twain.

            “Man is the only Slave. And he is the only animal who enslaves. He has
            always been a slave in one form or another, and has always held other
            slaves in bondage under him in one way or another. In our day he is
            always some man’s slave for wages, and does that man’s work; and this
            slave has other slaves under him for minor wages, and they do his work.
            The higher animals are the only ones who exclusively do their own work
            and provide their own living.”

          • Anonymous

            Oh!  You’re rapier like wit cut’s me to the core!  You’re infallible logic lights up the room!  Still haven’t answered the  simple question.  Is Biden, by his comment, a RACIST!

            Unless you want to answer that simple question, don’t bother to reply.  I have neither the time nor inclination to engage in a pointless dissertation with an idiot.

          • Anonymous

            No, Biden is not a racist! If you’re referring to his remarks that have been the primary focus of right-wingers such as yourself,  “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”, the answer is still NO. This is one of the problems I have with mythical minds such as you. Go back and watch the entire exchange troll baby. If you still can’t understand what was said, get back to me and I will break it down for you understanding, instead of your distortion.

            As for his comments about Barack Obama, I would not have used the same description used by Biden. But, many African Americans that have known Biden for many years have defended him, regardless of the fact that he did tell the truth. What Biden didn’t do, is what most “rednecks” and many members of the GOP say. 

            Where are the racist phrases in anything Biden has said? 

            You are the Sean Hannity of the internet. Go ahead and twist something or leave out what was really said, and then promote it to the sheep.

            One thing for sure, you’re not talking with an idiot. You might wish that I would stop pulling your strings, but I will continue until you learn how write truths instead of fiction.

            Keep crying and lying Twain Brain.

          • Anonymous

            I rest my case.  You’re a fucking hypocrite.  Have a nice day.  Asshole.

          • Anonymous

            You never had a case. What did Biden say that was racist? Put the words down and send them back. If you are trying to claim the incident that took place in the 7-11 was racist, then you are a complete fool. Go back and watch, and listen to the video. You’re the hypocrite, asshole.

            “Certainly glad I did not use the word niggardly.” Best part of you ran down your old man’s leg. You ignorant bastard.

          • Crying, you have confirmed that you will use ad hominem instead of a valid argument.

          • Anonymous

            No, it is you that can’t separate fact from fiction. People on this board will repeat crap that they have heard, but never checked. You do nothing more than parrot the trolls of the GOP.

          • You are in violation of Graves law and have forfeited your argument.

            Keep on and you can downgrade yourself to a race baiting thug.

          • Anonymous

            I glad you mentioned Graves Law. Now, you need to go study the entire law in reference to the beginning of this dialogue, which you have been trying to retreat from answering the real question. You’re in over your head fool.

          • Congratulations!

            You have fully devolved to the status of a race baiting thug!

          • That is an unsubstantiated argument by assertion and thus a full on violation of Graves law.

            Feel free to go away now.

          • Anonymous

            Your smarmy pitch falls short of your attempt to bolster your position as some sort of potentate on this forum.

          • Anonymous

            I’m all over you when it comes to Graves Law. Unsubstantiated argument? What? Are you deleting parts of your post? I will continue to play with your feeble mind.

          • A worse example of a fully devolved race baiting thug than I have never seen, and hope to never see again, is @Crying_from_the_right:disqus 

          • Anonymous

            What’s wrong Rodney, baby? You make a racist comment and you want to try an absolve yourself from your own comment. Such an imbecile.

          • What’s wrong is that you’re a race baiting thug with nothing of substance to add.

          • Anonymous

            Nice try! Your problem is that you are nothing more than loud-mouth right-winger who writes fiction. You think you are a political scholar, but you know less than attempt to take credit for when it comes to political truths. You’re the Glen Beck of the internet. Nothing more than a clown with a pen. Why don’t you borrow Glen Beck’s chalkboard? He doesn’t need it anymore. Anchors away sweetie pants.

          • You, @Crying_from_the_right:disqus , remain a race baiting thug with nothing of substance to add to this or any other discussion.  You can’t even manage a decent taunting session.

          • Anonymous

            At least your trying Rodney Baby. You have yet posed anything, to me, of substance. I made Hannity look like a fool, followed by O’Reilly, Beck and Limbaugh in that order. You are no different. If you want to debate “bring it on”. 

            You are a painter with no canvas.

    • retired.military


      If you say anything the least bit uncomplimentary about Obama (For example, I dont like his tie) than you will be branded a racist.

  • Jeff Blogworthy

    Does no one use “albatross” anymore? I’d say it’s a little safer.

    • Jeff, some people don’t know what the “albatross” expression means.  Plenty of people have never read the poem from which the expression originates.

      • Jeff Blogworthy

        Maybe. But the use of tar baby is a tar baby. lol.

      • Anonymous

        I always look for fresh Albatross when I go to the theater

  • Anonymous

    Obama’s a big boy and will use the race card in 2012 via minions nube’s like wannagitchagumi above.

    • Anonymous

      Calling him boy….. RACIST!!!

  • Anyone who claims that “tar baby” is racist has obviously missed the point of the “tar baby” story.

  • retired.military

    So David

    Are you saying that using the term “Tar baby” is like touching umm a tar baby ???

  • Anonymous

    “Is Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn a racist?”

    No more than anyone using the word niggardly.

    • Chico, you’re making sense today. Are you sure you’re feeling all right?

      • Anonymous

        I’m always feeling all right, except in the morning.

  • Anonymous

    I made that comment deliberately, and sure enough one of the lib trolls jumped right on it.

    FYI:  Although I don’t recommend Wikipedia as an iron-clad resource –

    • Anonymous

      Calm down, I agree with you.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, I realize that.  I just thought that link had several incidents and interesting comments.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, the Julian Bond part was especially interesting.  I remember when he was nominated for VP.

  • Anonymous

    Obama sure been niggardly on jobs creation.  The never ending campaigner in chief will now have a photo op signing to run as some sort of accomplishment in 2012.

    When will this Albatross fall from our necks?

  • Anonymous

    “You confirmed that you of the same family of retard backwoods Republicans who from time-to-time show their real faces of hate. ”

    And you have confirmed why inbreeding should be avoided.

  • Anonymous

    Is Lamborn racist? I have no idea.
    But he should have been more careful with his choice of words.

    Simply disagreeing with Obama has resulted in the race card being played.
    But libs aren’t really the brightest bulbs on the tree. Disagree with Obama and couple that with a term they don’t understand but think is racist and the accusations are bound to fly.

    That allows the LSM to step in and “report” the accusations and whatever Lamborn was talking about is soon forgotten.

    What’s remembered later? That Lamborn has been accused of racism.

    • Anonymous

      Given the context, yeah, stupid comparison that invites the liberal scream of “racism!”.

      Yet check my link above, and Julian Bond’s comments about having to be on tip-toes whenever you use a word or phrase.

      I did spend about 45 minutes on-line checking into Lamborn.  From what I’ve learned:

      A) White male
      B) Republican
      C) Gasp!  Link to tea party
      D) stupid comment

      Ergo RACIST!

      Now take Joey Biden, put a (D)! next to his name, eliminate B and C.  Result:  ‘just another stupid comment from Joey’.

      Maybe Lamborn should tell a guy in a wheelchair to stand up, and it will be a wash.

  • Anonymous

    If Al Sharpton manages to shake him down for some dough, he’s not a racist. Otherwise, he is.

  • Anonymous

    Cut to the chase.  If you vote or voted ABO you are a practising closet racist!

  • Anonymous

    “Lamborn told the Denver Post “I absolutely intended no offense, and if this is at all on his radar screen, I am sure that he will not take offense and he’ll be happy to accept my apology because he is a man of character.”

    Yeah, he is a man of shady character and he now will call a 2.1 trillion increase in debt a cut. And use   a chunk of it to buy the next election.

    Mark my words.

  • This is just baloney, a product of the Victimology movement of blacks looking for something to be offended by.  The Tar Baby didn’t represent a black person, and the idiomatic usage of the term was not a reference to race in any way.  In fact, it didn’t represent a person at all, but a trap.

    Joel Chandler Harris, the little boy to whom Uncle Remus told the stories, later became a scholar on West African mythology and how it related to American slaves with ancestry from that area.  It turns out most of the Remus tales had their origins in African legends.

    Harris theorized that Remus and other adult slaves adapted and expanded upon these original legends to give their children hope.  While it would have been very dangerous to tell stories of slaves defeating or out-smarting their masters, these harmless legends could convey the same message without attracting unwanted attention.

    Brer Fox represented the master in these stories, stronger and more threatening, while Brer Rabbit represented the slave who, despite his disadvantaged condition, could still win out by using his wits.  The Tar Baby story was the classic depiction of this scenario.

    But we’ve become a nation of PC idiots, where black rappers throw around the “n word” with abandon without consequence or even notice, but harmless terms like Tar Baby are considered “racist” by those with an agenda.

    • Just invoke Graves law and drive on.

    • I disagree with your assessment of this situation of being another example of victimization of blacks. I’m sure you would also agree that racism doesn’t exist and that Rodney King had it coming. But thats besides the point, understanding the biases of a major voting demographic is politics 101 for a US Congressman, he wouldn’t use the the word “broad” in reference to a woman or “retard” in reference to the mentally ill or “faggot” in reference to gay people. Even if it just came out in a statement like “Comparing one’s self to Sara Palins children is retarded”.  No I didn’t call Sara’s child afflicted with Down’s Syndrome “retarded” but  some how the “shoe fits” anyhow, isn’t that interesting. That kind of passive aggressive word play is immature and very common as a source of rhetorical persuasion for both Democrats and Republicans but that doesn’t condone its use. I think using “Tar Baby” which has become a racial slur is another example that is reprehensible.

      • We’re terribly sorry, but your race card has been declined as well.

        Terribly sorry about that chip on your shoulder.  Hope you get over that at some point.