11 years ago, my congress member called the President a tar baby. The local paper asked me to respond.

Roger Butts
2 min readOct 24, 2022

Here is the response. August 2011. In the Colorado Springs Gazette

In August, 2011, Rep. Doug Lamborn called President Obama a ‘tarbaby.’ It was bizarre, to say the least. Here is a letter the CS Gazette published that I wrote. I truly hope that this is Lamborn’s last term in Congress.

The power of words

Rep. Doug Lamborn:

It is the height of selflessness to serve your country as a legislator. Thank you for your service.

Because of the prestige I hold for your position, it is especially discouraging for me to write to you today. I write in regards to your calling President Obama a tar baby (“Lamborn Apologizes to President over Tar Baby Remark,” August 1).

I know the power of words. To use a word that is loaded with divisive subtexts is beneath your office. Tar baby is the kind of phrase that any educated person wisely avoids.

You say you meant quagmire. Quagmire and tar baby are completely different words with completely different connotations. I long for a representative who uses words with care.

Your choice of words was unfortunate and makes you seem uninformed, out of touch and deeply insensitive.

Do not misunderstand. I know well that we all make mistakes. I too have said things I seriously regret. I write recognizing that you apologized to the president.

More disturbing than your choice of words is your choice of how to view our country, its direction, and its purpose.

Simply put, your voting record holds this country back. Our country was made great by efforts to extend opportunities for education. It was made great by creating and expanding public lands, parks, and libraries — for all of us. You and your policies seem hell bent on destroying government and restricting opportunities as opposed to expanding them.

More disturbing than your lack of awareness around the power of words is your lack of awareness of how your extreme right-wing agenda is destroying our ability to function as a society — destroying our ability to protect the most vulnerable among us, our elders and children. Destroying our ability to teach our students. Destroying our ability to ensure that our food is safe, our land is clean, our air is breathable. Your destructive right-wing agenda is even more disturbing than your divisive words.

Rep. Lamborn, I urge you. End the wars. Start funding America’s infrastructure. Start working on taxing the wealthiest. Stop creating pseudo-crises around the debt limit. Start putting America back to work and start appealing to the best that is within us so that we can be united amidst our diversity, working towards a society in which all might flourish and democracy be increased.

Rev. Roger Butts

Colorado Springs

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Roger Butts

Author, Seeds of Devotion. Unitarian Universalist. Ordained 20 years.