Worn down by the incessant chatter within the Democratic Party and following a very public verbal flogging by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), fading presidential frontrunner Joe Biden finally uttered the s-word. He’s sorry for his record of working with vocal segregationists back in the 1970s. Could this signal the official kick-off of Uncle Joe’s apology tour?
The former vice president is well-versed in the art of groveling. Earlier this year, before officially announcing his candidacy, he apologized for calling his successor Mike Pence a “decent guy,” and grudgingly admitted that his handsy behavior toward women was inappropriate, as was his failure to protect Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing. Oh, and he also called for an end to the “white guy culture” for which he is the poster child.
Biden may have learned the art of the apology from the master – President Barack Obama, who managed to issue public regret for almost anything American while traversing the world as the 44th president. Following in Obama’s footsteps, the former V-P said he was wrong for praising segregationists. His comments came this past weekend at a campaign stop in Sumter, SC. It is not an accident that Biden issued his mea culpa in The Palmetto State, where more than 50% of the Democrats who vote are black:
“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was, and I regret it. And I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception I may have caused anybody.”
Even though it was Kamala Harris who took issue with Biden’s comments about working with Senators Herman Talmadge (D-GA) and James Eastland (D-MS), it was Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) who was first in line to accept Uncle Joe’s regret. Reuters reported that Booker expressed frustration that it took Mr. Biden “so long” to admit his erroneous ways but that he was “grateful” for the contrition.
A Changed Man
Worrying aloud that he hopes his “record and character stand for itself,” the V-P offered more of a conditional apology, stating that back then the Senate was “full of segregationists.” On that point, Biden is quite correct. In addition to Eastland and Talmadge one must not forget the litany of segregationists going back decades, including but not limited to: Allan Ellender (D-LA), James F. Byrnes (D-SC), Harry Byrd (D-VA), and John Stennis (D-MS). Then there was the horde of governors, including Olin D. Johnston of South Carolina, Orval Faubus of Arkansas, Eugene Talmadge and Lester Maddox of Georgia, Allan Shivers of Texas, George Wallace of Alabama, as well as Ross Barnett and Fielding Wright of Mississippi – Democrats one and all.
Of course, there were Republican racists too, but by and large, Biden can look to his very own party for the names and faces of the nation’s most virulent segregationists. In terms of letting his record and character speak for itself, it’s worth noting that Biden’s 1988 presidential run was abruptly halted following a plagiarism scandal in which entire sections of British Labour MP Neil Kinnock’s speech were lifted. The similarities between the two talks – which you can listen to below – are nothing short of staggering.
No one knows what lurks in the hearts of men. Perhaps Biden is telling the truth when he asserts, “There is not a racist bone in my body.” But when you live and breathe Swamp air for as many decades as Uncle Joe, you can bet there will be a lot for which he needs to answer.
Whether it be hair-sniffing and groping or stealing other politicians’ speeches or participating in power lunches with segregationists – it’s likely this expression of regret won’t be the last we’ll hear as Biden seeks to become POTUS 46. Or in the words of another Democrat, Adlai Stevenson I, “I am seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”
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