Posted on | May 19, 2006 |
“Asked repeatedly about reports that the government has collected records on millions of Americans’ phone calls, Snow said, ‘I don’t want to hug the tarbaby of trying to comment on the program, the alleged program, the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny.’
The expression, which refers to a character in the most famous of the fictional Uncle Remus stories, is sometimes used to portray an inextricable situation. But, as the word also has been used as a derogatory term for blacks, it raised eyebrows when spoken from the White House podium.
Later in the briefing, Snow was asked what he meant. ‘Well, I believe ‘hug the tarbaby,’ we could trace that back to American lore,’ he said.
Hey, Tony, there’s a LOT of expressions we can trace back to American lore that we don’t use anymore, like the famous phrase W.C. Fields euphemized as “Ethiopian in the fuel supply.” The problem is, you’re used to working in an environment that didn’t look askance when anyone said “Tarbaby,” and now you aren’t. But thanks, I knew you’d come through with a cartoon idea