COMMENTARY | It's not as if the U.S. isn't constantly in the grip of the next big impending racist scandal already, but lines from politicians like Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., do nothing to help the situation. With someone as politically adept as the congresswoman, it is difficult to see most of her statements as anything other than intentional.
Her latest addition came in an interview with Florida-based political blog "Shark Tank" while discussing President Barack Obama's inability to understand energy issues and his blaming oil speculators for high gas prices. "This is just about waving a tar baby in the air and saying that something else is a problem," she was quoted as saying.
Bachmann added Obama was an "irresponsible" and "infantile" president, always looking to place the blame elsewhere.
Whether one agrees with Bachmann, why would she use a term like "tar baby?" Her rhetoric seemed to fall short of that of her education (she's a lawyer) and political finesse. Unless, of course, she intended it as some thinly veiled racial reference. Because it isn't as if Bachmann is unfamiliar with the term "tar baby" and its history of racial insensitivity. And although the term has come to mean "sticky situation," it was also used as a derogative toward blacks.
Even if Bachmann could beg off knowledge of the term's overall history, the fact many politicians -- like Sen. John McCain, Sen. John Kerry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- have been castigated by civil rights groups and the media for using the term gives her no excuse.
Her office says she meant it in the context of Obama being in a "sticky situation" with his lack of knowledge and ineffectual policies about energy.
She didn't have to use the term. That she did shows her embrasure of the infantile. At the same time, labeling President Obama "irresponsible" with regard to his energy policies might be a bit more credible coming from someone who hadn't called for gas and oil drilling in the Everglades, the primary drinking water source for millions of South Floridians.