How radical can a Democrat act to appease the far left without completely alienating the folks in the middle? The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has made it clear they would much prefer a Bernie Sanders candidacy, but the somewhat more moderate majority made it clear the grumpy socialist doesn’t belong in the White House. Biden has always shown a willingness to pretend to be whoever folks want him to be, but recently leaked news of a phone call apology after a public disavowal brings that integrity issue to the forefront once again. Can Biden walk the tightrope this time, or will he take a tumble?
Biden’s Sarsour Apology
Enter Linda Sarsour, the Muslim feminist activist. During the week of the Democratic National Convention, Sarsour – who has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks – gave a speech to the Muslim delegation meeting. Her appearance caused a level of controversy due to her penchant for attacking Israel and Jews in general. Moreover, as a Palestinian, she has echoed the rhetoric of terrorist group Hamas and supports the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is designed to damage the Jewish state’s economy.
In the past, Biden has cast himself as a strong supporter of Israel. Andrew Bates, a spokesman for his campaign, released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform.”
Bates continued, “She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.” He noted that the Democratic platform was opposed to the BDS movement. Sarsour has previously criticized the former vice president, calling on him to “concede and negotiate” if he wanted to earn the support of Sanders voters.
But while the campaign publicly repudiated the activist, it has now been revealed that the Biden folks secretly reached out to her to smooth things over on Sunday. The move was intended to gain support among Muslim American Democrats. According to Middle East Eye, “In a private call with dozens of prominent activists on Sunday, Ashley Allison, national coalitions director for the Biden campaign, said she was ‘sorry’ for the comments that a campaign spokesman made against Sarsour.”
On the phone call, Allison said, “I am sorry that that happened. And I hope that whatever trust was broken, that this conversation is one small step to help build back the trust.”
Tony Blinken, the campaign’s top foreign policy adviser, expressed “regret” over the vice president’s remarks regarding Sarsour.
Symone Sanders, a member of the Biden campaign who previously served as a Bernie Sanders surrogate, called the campaign’s previous stance an “egregious misstep.”
Biden’s Balancing Act
If the Biden campaign hopes to consolidate support in the Democratic Party, compromise, concessions, and some hypocrisy will be required. It’s no surprise that they were so quick to apologize to the Sarsour faction after publicly rejecting her. However, it seems unlikely that they anticipated the leaking of the details of the phone call. That raises an important question. If they are willing to covertly backtrack on their public stances in this situation, can voters trust their stated positions in other matters?
Usually this would create enough doubt to cause tremendous damage to a presidential candidate’s campaign. After all, if the public can’t know where a nominee truly stands on the issues, how can they trust him enough to give him their votes?
Read more from Jeff Charles.