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Obama impersonator gets hook at GOP meeting. Why was he hired?

Did organizers of the Republican Leadership Conference give an Obama impersonator the hook because of racially insensitive jokes or because he was making digs at GOP candidates? Hard to say. But the RLC should have known what was coming.

By Staff writer / June 20, 2011

President Obama impersonator Reggie Brown performs at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans Saturday.

Patrick Semansky/AP

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Obama impersonator Reggie Brown was the entertainment at the Republican Leadership Conference meeting on Saturday. At least, he was the entertainment until he got the hook. He was right in the middle of a joke about Michele Bachmann when the music went up and he was escorted off the stage.

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Why was Mr. Brown’s performance cut short? According to RLC president Charlie Davis, it was due to some racially tinged material at the beginning of the comedian’s set.

“We have zero tolerance for racially insensitive jokes. As soon as I realized what was going on I rushed backstage and had him pulled,” said Mr. Davis Monday in a statement about the incident.

Brown himself has a different story. He believes he was running a bit long – and that the conference organizers may have been miffed that he was jabbing at Republican presidential candidates as well as Obama.

“I do believe that I was over my time by a few minutes, and I also believe that the material was starting to get to a point to where maybe they started to feel uncomfortable with where it was going,” said Brown Monday on CNN.

We won’t adjudicate this argument ourselves. Was it racially insensitive for Brown – posing as Obama – to joke that Michelle Obama celebrates all of Black History Month, while he only celebrates half? (Both Michelle’s parents are African-American, while he is the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother).

It might just be that the RLC did not want to give Democrats any reason to complain that the group is tinged with racism. As comedian Jon Stewart pointed out during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” that’s a charge with which conservatives are often battered, fairly or not.

“People on the right are called ‘racist’ and other things with an ease I am uncomfortable with.... That’s something I think they have a real right to be angry about,” said the Comedy Central star during an otherwise combative interview with Fox host Chris Wallace.

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