Republican apologizes to Obama for calling him "boy"

Back we go to our verbal stumble insta-analysis: Sinister slip betraying his withered racist heart or innocent southern colloquialism thoughtlessly applied to the wrong subject? I was willing to split the difference and accuse him of condescending to Obama for being young — just a lad of 46, he is — but Davis himself is only 49.

Perhaps he’s simply bitter about the economic downturn and chose to express his frustration “small-town style.”

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) has apologized for using the word “boy” to describe Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at a Republican fundraiser Saturday night in Kentucky.

“I’m gonna tell you something. That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,” Davis said, according to an audio recording of the event that was obtained by The Hill. The lawmaker told the crowd that he participated in “closed, highly classified national security simulations” with Obama…

In the written apology to Obama, which he personally delivered to his Senate office, Davis wrote “my poor choice of words is regrettable and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity. I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness.”

“It’s hard to tell what is more outrageous – Rep. Davis’s condescending and personal attack, or his absurd and offensive claim that Barack Obama is not prepared to defend America,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

Will it become an Issue? Doubtless Olby will squeeze a segment or two out of it, likely as a further illustration of how we can presume unconscious racism from the fact that Davis is a Republican, but there’s no way to pin it on McCain and the ambiguity plus effusive apology makes it hard for anyone outside the “Countdown” audience not to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. It’s worth comparing the buzz over this to the shrugs that greeted the AP editor’s “Obama bin Laden” goof earlier today, though (which Obama handled deftly). The best predictor of whether a verbal stumble will catch media fire is how closely it conforms to the opposition’s stereotype of the person saying it. Obama as closet Marxist? Check. Davis as closet Klansman? Check. Media that’s in the tank for Obama comparing him to Al Qaeda? Not bloody likely.