Liberals are up in arms over a joke that Robert De Niro made about the country not being ready for a white first lady while he was at a New York Obama campaign fundraiser Monday evening. Michelle Obama attended the fundraiser and some people felt that he was getting into dangerous territory for President Obama.
The scene played out like this according to reports from NPR:
"Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?"
The wealthy audience laughed uproariously. Someone shouted "No!"
De Niro then added, "Too soon, right?"
But the Obama campaign started to distance itself from De Niro's joke yesterday. "We believe the joke was inappropriate," said Olivia Alair, Mrs. Obama's campaign press secretary.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential candidate, pounced:
"What De Niro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him. It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country..."
Apparently De Niro went wrong by "recalling the kind of comments that many whites made about blacks within living memory, he ran afoul of the unwritten rule Obama and his tight knit team of advisers have operated under going back to his 2008 campaign. Anything that reinforces racial divisions or focuses attention on the president's race should be avoided."
Representatives for the Obama campaign are very concerned that the comment might make Obama the "Other" and spur racial conflict.
Newt Gingrich didn’t appreciate the irony within De Niro's comment and demanded an apology from Mr. Obama.
Gingrich fired back by saying, "I think that Robert De Niro's wrong. The country is ready for a new first lady, and he doesn't have to describe it in racial terms."
Tuesday afternoon, a senior Gingrich adviser – African-American, female – also jumped in, arguing that if a conservative had made such a comment, the media would have had a field day: "Racial comments and jokes degrade the political process,” said Kiron Skinner, a national co-chair of the Women With Newt Coalition, in a statement. “They have no place in this presidential campaign season. The media and many others would decry an equivalent comment by a conservative or a Republican supporter of a presidential candidate."
Dr. Skinner continued, "As a senior adviser in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign and as an African American woman, I stand against comments like DeNiro’s."
Do you think the Obama campaigns stance is ridiculous, or a necessary precaution?
De Niro's wife, Grace Hightower is black.
Obama never apologized.