Open Mouth. Insert Foot.
Rick Santorum denies the near disaster even happened. He was speaking to a group in Janesville, Wisconsin when the following came out; “We know the candidate Barack Obama, what he was like – the anti-war government nig… America was a source for division around the world, that what we were doing was wrong.”
I’m not sure what was supposed to come out of his mouth. “Candidate”? “Proponent”? “Activist”?
Remember when then House majority leader, Representative Dick Armey of Texas referred to openly gay Representative Barney Frank as “Barney Fag” during a TV interview? Dick didn’t mean to say it. The phrase just came out. Obviously this desecration of Representative Frank’s name by turning it into a homophobic slur was commonly and frequently used by many conservative members of Congress and their staff in much the same way many people use derogatory and racial language to describe other groups of people while in private. Maybe Dick started using “Barney Fag” when discussing Mr. Frank so often that it became routine. And then during the interview, it just . . came out. That’s a more plausible explanation than the statistically improbable likelihood that Dick’s brain randomly switched Mr. Frank’s last name for a derogatory term for homosexual that happened to start with the same last letter as his name.
According to Sigmund Freud, the tendency to inadvertently say things in an inappropriate context (i.e. a Freudian Slip) is caused by thoughts or beliefs from the subconscious that would normally be unacceptable to utter in public or mixed company. These beliefs are usually suppressed and come out at certain times when triggered. An example would be calling a woman by the name of your ex-wife just because she is very similar to her in appearance or mannerisms. But modern cognitive scientists believe (as I do) that these “slips of the tongue” are usually due to common prior and habitual language usage that inadvertently comes out in an inappropriate context, like a speech or interview.
Which raises the disturbing question. What did Santorum intend to say? Other then the obvious choice, there are not too many nouns that start with “nig . . ” and would make any sense when used in the context of the sentence, “the anti-war government . . . . . ” Nightwatchman perhaps? Like Mr. Armey, what are the odds that Mr. Santorum’s brain almost randomly inserted the worst of all possible slurrs to describe the President in the most inappropriate of contexts? Yea, not too likely. And so then one has to face the possibility that whatever was almost uttered is a habitual term used frequently by Mr. Santorum in private.
But maybe not. It’s far from completely certain that our once and future leaders are secretly racist, homophobic, scumbags. At least we don’t like to think so. Maybe the term that Mr. Santorum nearly uttered came from his belief that the President is really a member of the Knights who say “Ni” and as such the President is more concerned with acquiring inexpensive shrubbery in a two level pattern with a path running down the middle then with important things like the economy or comforting victims of Rush Limbaugh. It’s an entirely plausible explanation and I’m going to stick with it.