I was intrigued by the latest Joe Biden “gaffe” where he said he understood the value of civility in public debate, and then was promptly condemned by his fellow Democrats for talking about how he has always been able to get along with people who had different ideas than him.
It reminded me of Sen. Conrad Burns, the old-time Montana politician who astounded the Daily Inter Lake editorial board late in his third term when he confessed that his best friend in Washington D.C. was Teddy Kennedy. Burns was a low-brow Republican who chewed tobacco, swore like the Marine he had been in his younger years, and worked as a cattle auctioneer before turning to politics. He was also a reliable conservative who Montanans trusted to do battle with the ornery liberals back East. Yet Burns happily told us stories about drinking and swearing with liberal icon Sen. Kennedy and assured us that was standard operating procedure back in D.C. Everyone proudly wore their party politics on the Senate floor, but in the cloak room they were just a bunch of horse traders trying to get stuff done over a whiskey ditch. You had to work across the aisle if you wanted your bill to pass.
These days, Republicans don’t want to hear that Ted Cruz is barbecuing with Kamala Harris or that Marco Rubio is sharing a beer with Elizabeth Warren. That would make them suspect of being RINOs. Likewise Democrats aren’t interested in hearing that their standard bearers are playing golf with the Trump family or any other Republicans who support a secure border or abortion restrictions. Political correctness just would not permit it. The old days have passed, but Joe Biden is carrying the old days with him like a turtle carrying its shell. He has no choice. Like President Trump, he is kryptonite to political correctness. But Biden’s problem is he is a Democrat, the party that invented political correctness.
Interestingly, Biden wasn’t talking about getting along with Republican senators like Orrin Hatch, but rather about how he was able to get along in the 1970s with DEMOCRATIC senators who had a long history of supporting segregation. This is one more instance of how the Democratic Party has not found a way to incorporate its pro-slavery Jim Crow history into its modern-day identity as the party that blames everyone else. It is also reminiscent of Biden being criticized earlier for saying that Vice President Mike Pence is a “decent guy.” Biden apologized for that “gaffe,” although he is holding a little more firm in his support for the segregationist Southerners.
According to the pool report written by Ken Thomas of the Wall Street Journal, here is exactly what Biden said at a recent fundraiser:
“I know the new New Left tells me that I’m — this is old-fashioned. 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. That’s what it does. You have to be able to reach consensus under our system — our Constitutional system of separation of powers.”
Mr. Biden then recalled his time serving in the Senate. “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Mr. Biden said, briefly channeling the late Mississippi senator’s Southern drawl. Mr. Biden said of Mr. Eastland, “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
Mr. Biden then brought up a deceased Georgia senator, “a guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys. Well guess what? 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.”
Sen. Cory Booker, a second-tier presidential candidate, led the charge against Biden for his “outrageous” comments in favor of constitutional governance and called on him to apologize.
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys.’ Men like [Sen.] James O. Eastland [(D-Miss.)] used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity,” Booker said in a statement Wednesday. “And frankly, I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.”
Biden seemingly skated past this incident, which Democrats could live to regret. Much worse than Biden’s gaffe tendency is his apparent corruption as evidenced by his son’s wealth-amassment in the Ukraine and China — something no Democrat seems willing to talk about. But if Democrats develop too much of a habit of overlooking Biden’s weak spots, they may find themselves with a deeply flawed candidate in the general election.
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