By MACKENZIE WEINGER | 4/19/12
Rep. Michele Bachmann accused President Barack Obama of “waving a tar baby in the air” by blaming oil speculators for the “poor choices” he’s made for energy policy.
“This is just about waving 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 everybody else for his failure to first diagnose the problem, and second, to address the problem. It’s always everyone else’s fault,” the Minnesota Republican told Florida-based conservative blog The Shark Tank in an interview on Wednesday.
In the Uncle Remus stories, the Tar Baby is a doll made of tar and turpentine that’s used to trap Br’er Rabbit. The phrase has come to mean a sticky situation, but some also consider it a derogatory term for African-Americans.
Bachmann’s press secretary Becky Rogness told POLITICO in an email that the congresswoman was referring to the “sticky situation” Obama has gotten into with oil prices and noted that the statement had “nothing to do with race.”
“The congresswoman values all human life — regardless of race, color or creed,” Rogness said. “If you listen to the interview, Rep. Bachmann was making a point about the president’s poor understanding of oil prices, which has nothing to do with race. The president doesn’t understand the oil market and hence, has gotten himself into a sticky situation.”
This isn’t the first time a politician has used the phrase: In 2006, Mitt Romney used the term in reference to Boston’s Big Dig construction project. He later apologized. Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2007 was discussing the federal government’s involvement in custody cases and said, “For me to stand here and … say I’m going to declare divorces invalid because of someone who feels they weren’t treated fairly in court, we are getting into a tar baby of enormous proportions and I don’t know how you get out of that.” He said he was wrong to use the phrase.
And in 2008, Democratic Sen. John Kerry used the phrase in a TV interview, saying “I think John [McCain] is trying to throw that big tar baby out there. You want to lose, you don’t want to win. Of course Barack Obama wants America to be successful.”
And Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) apologized in 2011 after he said of Obama, “I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and you can’t get away.”