Joe Biden Is One of the Most Tone-Deaf Politicians in the History of Representative Government

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Esquire

Wednesday is Juneteenth, the annual celebration held every 17th of June to commemorate the end of slavery in the state of Texas and, more generally, the decision by the nation, sealed in blood, that owning other human beings was no basis for a moral society. And what better way for a Democratic candidate for president in 20-freaking-19 to celebrate Juneteenth than to go before an audience of bankers and plutocrats and wax nostalgic for the days when you could "get things done" with segregationist monsters? From The New York Times:

At the event, Mr. Biden noted that he served with the late Senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats who were staunch opponents of desegregation. Mr. Eastland was the powerful chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Mr. Biden entered the chamber in 1973. “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Mr. Biden said, slipping briefly into a Southern accent, according to a pool report from the fund-raiser. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’”

“Well guess what?” Mr. Biden continued. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.” Mr. Biden made the comments about Mr. Eastland and Mr. Talmadge as he spoke about the need for unity, including a call for bipartisanship that has drawn derision from some liberals who don’t see room for compromise in today’s polarized Washington. “I know the new New Left tells me that I’m - this is old-fashioned,” he said. “Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president.”

Here, in rebuttal, is good ol' civil James Eastland in 1957:

The Southern institution of racial segregation or racial separation was the correct, self-evident truth which arose from the chaos and confusion of the Reconstruction period. Separation promotes racial harmony. It permits each race to follow its own pursuits, and its own civilization. Segregation is not discrimination… Mr. President, it is the law of nature, it is the law of God, that every race has both the right and the duty to perpetuate itself. All free men have the right to associate exclusively with members of their own race, free from governmental interference, if they so desire.

Here's some more, from the Honolulu Record in 1956, when Eastland was preparing to chair a congressional committee's Red-baiting investigation into the newspaper and several Hawaiian labor organizations:

"...the pure blood of the South is mongrelized by Northern politicians to obtain political favors from Red mongrels."

"The white people of the South do not have race prejudice. They have race consciousness, and they are proud to possess this awareness of the significance of race. Had they not possessed it the South would have been mongrelized and southern civilization destroyed long ago."

"Mr. President, let me make this very clear. The South will retain segregation. The governor of a sovereign State can use the force at his command, civil and other, to maintain public order, and prevent crime and riots. He can use these forces to prevent racial integration of schools if this is necessary, under the police power of the State, to prevent disorder and riots. In fact, it is his duty to preserve order and prevent turmoil and strife within the state."

I'm beginning to wonder if Joe Biden is the proper candidate for this particular political moment.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Already in the past month, Biden also has yearned for the days in which he could do civility with Strom Thurmond, at whose funeral Biden spoke, and he's treated Joy Reid with total disrespect at the Reverend William Barber's Poor People's forum. From the Washington Post:

Joy-Ann Reid, an MSNBC host who moderated the session, asked Biden how he would pass his plans through a stubborn Congress - in particular, how he would work with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who makes little secret of his satisfaction at blocking Democratic initiatives.

Biden bristled at the suggestion that his approach was misguided. As he wound through his response, Biden moved nearer to Reid, who was seated, and leaned over her. “Joy-Ann, I know you’re one of the ones who thinks it’s naive to think we have to work together,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is, if we can’t get a consensus, nothing happens except the abuse of power by the executive branch. Zero.” He added that “you can shame people into doing the right thing.”

Here with a rebuttal is an actual concept: President Donald J. Trump. Here with another rebuttal is a sadly imaginary concept: Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland. Damn, Joe. You were there, my dude. You were doing more than just putting on the Ray-Bans in viral videos.

Meanwhile, at the same feast of fat things in New York on Tuesday night, Biden reassured the assembled plutocrats that he considers them the real victims of scurrilous attacks.

Mr. Biden’s appearance at the Carlyle was his third fund-raiser of the day. There and at previous stops, he implicitly suggested that bold actions on a range of issues could be achieved without anyone being “punished,” including the wealthy. “I got in trouble with some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side, because I said, ‘You know what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people,’” he said. “Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money.”

Well, that's true. It is unfair to demonize the minimum wage worker who just cleared your table, Joe. He "makes money." But the guys who wrecked the entire economy and then got rich selling off the ruins, and who are preparing to do it again? They should roast in hell on the next spit over from James Freaking Eastland.

Joe Biden would be a better president than the one we have now. But I'm not sure everyone has a grasp on how very low that bar is. However, and especially on the campaign trail, Joe Biden also is consistently one of the most tone-deaf politicians in the history of representative government. He paints the bullseye on his own self more artistically than anyone I've ever seen. Maybe that's part of his charm.

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