Jeb Bush's gross "Redskins" pandering: "Washington" is pejorative, not the slur

Jeb's goes on the defensive for the racist team name after owner Dan Snyder donates $100k to his super PAC

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published October 9, 2015 7:45PM (EDT)

  (AP/Gene J. Puskar)
(AP/Gene J. Puskar)

Republican voters have made it abundantly clear that they want out with the old and in with the new, forcing so-called establishment Republicans out of Washington and insisting that their nominee for president be as disconnected from the Beltway as possible. And boy does that make Jeb Bush nervous.

The former Florida governor, never the most eloquent candidate on the campaign trail, has been whipping himself into a frenzy deriding the less than 70 square mile colony while defending the racially offensive name of the areas NFL team, the Washington Redskins.

Appearing on the conservative Hugh Hewitt Show following the turmoil that befell the House Republicans after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a surprise announcement withdrawing himself from the race for speaker, Bush made an awkward joke meant to disparage a "dysfunctional" D.C..

"There was a big argument about the Washington Redskins, the 'Redskins' being a pejorative term," Bush said. "I think 'Washington' is the pejorative term, not the 'Redskins.'"

“I don’t think they should change it,” he told ABC’s Rick Klein and ESPN’s Andy Katz last month. “But again, I don’t think politicians ought to have any say in that to be honest with you. I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive."

“I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive,” he repeated on “The Arena” on Sirius XM’s POTUS Channel recently, comparing the controversy to a similar flap with Florida State’s Seminole nickname, noting that the Seminole tribe ultimately came to the defense of the university.

“It’s a sport, for cryin’ out loud,” he complained. “It’s a football team.”

But Jeb's contention that "Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive" seems to ignore the Oneida Indian Nation, who on Monday blasted Donald Trump after he sided with Jeb on the offensiveness of the team's name.

"I know Indians that are extremely proud of that name. They think it's a positive," Trump told the New York Times on Monday, insisting that the team shouldn't be forced to change the name unless the owner decides to.

"It is hardly surprising that a candidate who labeled Mexican immigrants rapists and calls women 'pigs' now says he wants the NFL to continue slurring Native Americans," a statement from the tribe read. "Donald Trump joins some of the NFL's ignoble fraternity of billionaires who sit in their office suites and owner's boxes happily spending their fortunes denigrating people of color."

The group has led the "Change the Mascot" campaign along with the National Congress of American Indians to change what it considers a racial slur.

Jeb made no mention of the group's opposition during any of his defenses of the team's name.

Jeb's new favorite line about the Washington Redskins apparently offers him the chance to shore up his anti-pc conservative credentials, try his darnedest to slam the D.C. establishment and make nice with one of the biggest contributors to his super PAC.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who has said he’s never changing the team name, donated $100,000 to Jeb's Right to Rise super PAC in April, according to The Hill.

Listen to Bush's comments below:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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