You have probably heard about senior Republican Chip Saltsman’s distribution of a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro,” which has triggered a nasty battle within the GOP.

Saltsman, campaigning to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, says he mailed CDs of the song about President-elect Barack Obama, the first African-American to win the White House, as a joke.

According to Newsmax.com, many people — even within the Republican Party — are not laughing. The song “is a racist, hateful, sophomoric act,” one blogger posted on the Politico.com site. “I can’t wait until all you ethnic puritan-maniacs are retired, voted out, or six feet under.”

An online commentator for the National Review magazine, a pillar of the conservative movement, attacked Saltsman, saying: “The use of the term ‘Negro’ in the song rubs me the wrong way.”

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the New York Times that the song was “inappropriate” and said the flap should disqualify Saltsman from the GOP leadership position.

Set to the tune of the old Peter, Paul and Mary song “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” it opens with: “Barack the Magic Negro lives in DC.”

The song has sparked a brawl of finger-pointing and accusation within the Republican Party, still struggling to recover from their defeat in the November presidential and congressional races — in large part because of low support from ethnic minorities.

The wording of the song, particularly the now rare use of the word “Negro,” touched on the ultra-sensitive topic of race, an area where Republicans often have been painted as being behind the times Newsmax.com writes.

The Hill newspaper quoted Saltsman as saying he meant to be “light-hearted.”

Matt Lewis, a blogger on news.aol.com/political-machine, said Tuesday that racist or not, Saltsman had sinned politically.

“Republicans who care about public relations also might want to think twice about electing someone who is either (1) out of touch with general societal mores, (2) lacks the ability to self-censor or self-edit, (3) simply doesn’t care what people think.”

Now Newsmax.com reports that another GOP hopeful has run aground on the rocks of racial insensitivity. Katon Dawson, South Caroina GOP chairman and candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship, recently resigned from a country club that allows only white members.The question national Republicans should be asking themselves is why this man was in a whites-only country club and why he waited until now to resign. South Carolina Republicans understand the answer inplicitly and instictively: it’s just the way they have always done things in this state.