U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks to supporters at his primary night rally at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri

Rick Santorum probably didn’t call President Obama the n-word

Mar 30, 2012

As anyone who covers politics can tell you, the long, drawn out primary season can be excruciatingly boring. Aside from ballot results and perhaps a few daring policy speeches, we have little to write on aside from gaffes, stumbles and the such, most often salivating and obsessing over sensationalized incidents.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about sensationalized incidents, and many deserve to be covered, like Rick Santorum calling “bullshit” on New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, Mitt Romney saying he doesn’t care about the very poor, or Newt Gingrich having a huge line of credit at Tiffany & Co. (Yeah, remember that?) The latest sensationalized incident, however, may have jumped the shark.

Multiple outlets today are featuring a video of Santorum speaking to a crowd in Wisconsin, where he said, “We know the candidate Barack Obama, what he was like – the anti-war government…” He then starts to say a word that starts with “n,” before continuing, “America was a source for division around the world, that what we were doing was wrong.” Some are wondering if that “n” was meant to start the word “nigger.”*

“Did Rick Santorum Almost Call Barack Obama the N-Word?” Max Read at Gawker asked this morning. Santorum’s team, of course, insists that’s not the case, telling RawStory, “Give me a break. That’s unbelievable. What does it say about those that are running with this story that that’s where their mind goes. You know, I’m not going to dignify that with [a response].”

As that site points out, Santorum does have an alleged history of making racially-charged comments, like when he told supporters in January, “[I don't] want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.” He denied making that statement, saying instead he had simply stumbled: “What I started to say was a word and then it sort of changed and ‘blah’ came out. And people said I said ‘black’ and I didn’t.” I think that’s probably the case with this “n-word” controversy.

Though there are indeed racist elements among the Republican Party, as seen most evidently in Tea Party emails and rhetoric, it takes a certain type of racist to use the n-word. Santorum may be a lot of things — he may even be racist, who knows? Does he have a hunting camp called “Niggerhead”? — but he is not a complete idiot.

The n-word, one hopes, is not readily available on most people’s tongues. We know from watching debates that Santorum, when frustrated and under pressure, loses any natural eloquence he may have and becomes tongue-tied. In my opinion, that’s what happened here. But maybe I’m wrong. Why don’t you watch the video and judge for yourself.

*I debated between writing “n*gger” and “nigger” and decided that the actual word, no matter how offensive, is best. If I were writing about homophobia, I would use “faggot” instead of “f*ggot,” so why change my style?

Around the Web
Comments