Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Bruce Wilson Headshot

Roy Blunt (R-MO) Tells Racism-Tinged Monkey Joke at DC Conference

Posted: Updated:

"He is now the second highest ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is a very important committee on the health care issue," Family Research Council head Tony Perkins introduced Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) before a crowd of roughly 2,000 at the Family Research Council Action's 2009 Values Voter Summit last Friday. Taking the podium, Blunt repaid the favor, enthusing, "I really appreciate Tony Perkins coming and introducing me himself. He is one of my great friends."

"This is an opportunity for us," Blunt told his predominantly white audience, "this is a time for us to be more of who we should be."

Congressman Blunt then went on to tell an anecdote which suggested that life in Washington, for GOP members today, is comparable to the lot of imperial British agents in India who had to contend with monkeys running amok on a golf course that the colonial occupiers had carved out of the verdant Indian jungle. There was a problem, the Missouri Representative explained; monkeys would come out of the jungle, grab golf balls, and throw them about. Amidst swelling laughter from his audience Roy Blunt narrated,

"I could go into great and long detail about how many things they did to try and eliminate the 'monkey problem.' But they never got it done, so finally this golf course and this golf course only, they passed a rule and the rule was - you have to play the ball where the monkey throws it. [audience laughter swells] And that is the rule in Washington all the time."

It seemed like a direct window into the psyche of the revanchist wing of the GOP; politics is a golf game and unruly Democrat "monkeys" have swarmed out of the jungle to disrupt the play. Since it is impractical to "eliminate" the monkeys, accommodations will have to be made. Republicans will now "play the ball where the monkey throws it."

Blunt's anecdote was all the more risque' for Tony Perkins' past association with elements of the racist right. As described in journalist Max Blumenthal's new book Republican Gomorrah (2009, Nation Books), in 1996 while working as a GOP Senate race campaign manager Perkins paid $82,500 to buy a phone banking list from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Then, in 2002, Perkins spoke at a fundraiser for the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a national white supremacist group. The CofCC "Statement of Principals" states that "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called 'affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."

As Former President Jimmy Carter recently told NBC news, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity against President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man." But in a series of media appearances on Friday, the same day that Roy Blunt told his monkey-golfing anecdote, President Barack Obama sought to steer the national discourse away from the issue of race, telling John King on CNN's "State of the Union,"

"Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure there are. That's not the overriding issue here. I think there are people who are anti-government."

Underscoring Obama's assertion, Internet video sites such as YouTube have witnessed over the past year a dramatic rise in the posting of anti-government videos that suggest President Obama is an agent of a purported "New World Order" conspiracy. Many New World Order conspiracy theorists claim that health care reform amounts to a plot to advance world totalitarian rule.

[below: video excerpt of Roy Blunt telling "monkey anecdote" at 2009 Values Voter Summit]

[below: transcript of Roy Blunt's monkey anecdote]

"You know, you can't control everything there is in life that you'd like to control. Supposedly, at the turn of the 19th Century, the end of the 19th Century - the beginning of the 20th Century, there was a group of British occupiers in a very lush, very quiet, very peaceful, very uneventful part of India. And this group of British soldiers who were occupying that part of India decided they'd carve a golf course put of the jungle of India. And there was really not that much else to do.

So for over a year, this was the biggest event, getting this golf course created. And they got the golf course done and almost from the day the first ball was hit on this golf course something happened they didn't anticipate. Monkeys would come running out of the jungle [faint audience laughter] and they'd grab the golf balls. And if it was in the fairway they might throw it in the rough. And [if] it was in the rough they might throw it... they might throw it back at you! And I could go into great and long detail about how many things they did to try and eliminate the 'monkey problem.' But they never got it done, so finally this golf course and this golf course only, they passed a rule and the rule was - you have to play the ball where the monkey throws it. [audience laughter swells] And that is the rule in Washington all the time. You know... [clapping from audience]

You know the world is turned upside down when Al Franken is in the United States Senate and Tom Delay is going on "Dancing With the Stars" - that's when you know that things have changed in ways that you would have never anticipated."

Register To Vote