John Boehner Plays Uncle Remus - Is Blackface Next Insult?


Uncle Remus

"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." Yup, that's the song good ol' boy John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives chose to sing as he exited the podium yesterday after announcing his unconditional surrender to President Obama over the budget ceiling. Boehner not only took it on the chin from the President, he also took a number of body blows and whippings from his own party -- the conservative GOP right wing.

This was not a good day. Yet what does the Speaker do, he soothes his bruised ego and battered body exiting the press conference singing and humming. 'Atta boy, Boehner. Smile and never let the people know how hurt you really are.

Speaking of hurt, that brings me to the topic of the song Mr. Speaker chose to show his emotions, his feelings, his state of mind. Usually we find a song that fits what we're thinking deep down inside. In this case, I wouldn't have been surprised if after his battles he wasn't singing "Ol' Man River." But frankly that would be racist. And John's not racist... though...

Yet what he did choose leads me to question his roots. His state of mind. What he's really thinking. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah? It's not exactly "Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it's off to work we go.." Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is a 1947 Oscar winning song from the Disney movie, SONG OF THE SOUTH. It was sung in the film by a character known as Uncle Remus -- today thought of as Uncle Tom. You couldn't get more racist if you had sung "Dixie."

Wikipedia on SONG OF THE SOUTH:

The film's depiction of African-American former slaves and of race relations in Reconstruction-Era Georgia has been controversial since its original release, and is now commonly regarded as racist. Consequently it has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States.

Really Mr. Boehner? The theme song from one of the most racist films of all time is all you can fill your mind with? This country's got enough racial troubles, you don't need to be smirking and driving another wedge into our fragile union.

Here's the short ending of his press conference. He's got the orange face thing down perfectly. I'm just surprised, in his state of mind, he didn't go all out and do the presser in Al Jolson blackface.

  • I love Fox.

  • David G

    I hope you're right. I don't think that he intentionally sang himself off stage with a conscience effort to make a statement with his selected song. But his choice is, in retrospect, a curious one at best.

  • Fair enough David. I just don't think Boehner has a racist bone in his body for the record..just saying.

  • bpollen

    In my case, though I am familiar with it, I have never seen Song of the South. The song I have heard numerous times on Disney and, listening to the lyrics, it seems to be a song about keeping a positive attitude, perhaps. So for me, that song is not a racist dog whistle. While I have no love for Boehner, I think you are barking at shadows here.

  • David G

    Thin line, here, in satire, Matthew. I do not call him a racist, but I do imply that some of his actions in this situation veer toward that as one of a number of conclusions. Implying something, by stating fact, is only allowing for conjecture, something snarky writers like myself do. The old, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then perhaps it is a duck analogy is all I'm sayin'. Labeling is not my thing. Leading on is another story. DG

  • dingbat

    Having grown up in Cincinnati at the same time as Speaker Boehner, I know that he got the tune not from Disney but from Uncle Al,, who entertained us as kids on WLW-T. This detail indicates a slightly different significance to his melodic riposte in my humble opinion.

  • Ooo, Matthew, did you call "you liberals" here at TPC names? Why yes, yes you did. That means you failed to read our guidelines, and you will be deleted. Try that again, and you'll be banned. If you have a comment, make it without name-calling.

    And before you respond the way most trolls do ("Well, HE called Boehner a racist!"), our writers are not commenters, nor are they addressing our commenters. They are commentators.

    Our rules do not allow commenters to call fellow commenters or our writers names, got it?

    Now go back to watching Fox so you can remember the rest of your talking points.

  • You go out of your way to say he's not a racist, then you call him a racist. Boehner meant nothing racist at all and it is you liberals who are the real racists, who see everything in the context of race and make a fake issue out of nothing. You sir are the race baiter.

  • David G

    The caucus wants both, Sally. Sooner, rather than later.

  • Sally

    Zip A Dee Doo Dah
    Zip A Dee A
    My oh my what a wonderful Day
    Plenty of Sunshine Headin' our Way
    Zip A Dee Doo Dah
    Zip A Dee A

    What was he thinking? It's wonderful day when he shuts up the Tea Party? Well, it was for us, but the caucus wants his head on a platter...or his neck in a noose?