House Republican blasts Obama as "that boy"

Conservative Kentucky lawmaker apologizes after racially-charged remark aimed at Obama.

By Steve Benen

Published April 15, 2008 12:53PM (EDT)

Far-right efforts to define Barack Obama as The Other have been relatively subtle over the last couple of months. A little emphasis on Obama's middle name here, a little talk about flag lapel pins there. Everyone knew what was coming, but could also tell the Republican efforts hadn't started in earnest.

It appears conservatives are starting to forgo the subtleties.

U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Hebron Republican, compared Obama and his message for change similar to a "snake oil salesman" [at a Northern Kentucky Lincoln Day dinner].

He said in his remarks at the GOP dinner that he also recently participated in a "highly classified, national security simulation" with Obama.

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

According to news accounts, Davis' comments were "met by laughter and applause" with his Kentucky Republican audience.

Once reporters started calling Davis' office seeking comment, the conservative Republican lawmaker issued a written apology to Obama, saying, "[M]y poor choice of words is regrettable and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity. I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness."

Davis' remarks are so uniquely stupid, it's hard to know where to start. First, obviously, is "that boy." The racial element of the phrase is both obvious and ugly. It's not as if Davis is Obama's elder -- the senator is just three years younger than the Kentucky congressman.

Second, is the apology itself. Davis didn't mean to "impugn" Obama or his "integrity." That's a rather odd what to respond. The problem isn't that he attacked Obama's integrity -- Republicans do that all the time -- it's that he called a grown black man a "boy."

Third, I'm curious about this "highly classified, national security simulation" Davis claims to have "recently" completed with Obama. If the simulation is "highly classified," why is Davis talking about it in front of hundreds of people? Did the simulation actually happen, or is Davis making it up?

Steve Benen

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