Why didn’t Team Obama walk back Joe Biden’s remark?

Even the Boston Globe is sick of Joe Biden. Its editorial board recounts Biden’s unfortunate history of bigoted statements and urges the Vice President to apologize for his claim that Republican efforts to loosen bank regulations means “they’re going to put y’all back in chains.” (Actually, I think Biden said “they,” not “they’re”).

The Globe despairingly notes that President Obama has said, through his spokesperson, that he has no problem with Biden’s remark. Yet “if Republican Paul Ryan uttered comments like that [he] would be pilloried for racial insensitivity — and so would Romney.” It’s time, says the Globe, to end the “double standard.”

Why did Obama campaign dig in its heels and refuse to walk back Clueless Joe’s comment? By doing so, it could have minimized the damage and allowed the conversation to shift to other subjects.

Perhaps Obama and company thought that the MSM would cover for Obama and Biden, as it normally does. By the time they realized the MSM wouldn’t do so, it was too late.

Or maybe Team Obama is just so locked into full-tilt attack mode that it has lost the ability to retreat strategically, even to the limited extent of walking back a silly comment by its appendage.

These are plausible explanations, I think. But we should also consider the possibility that Obama affirmatively wants to stand by Biden’s race-baiting.

Jay Cost has argued that Biden’s remark was not a gaffe, but rather an attempt to rally African-American support for Obama. To be sure, Obama has a stranglehold on that vote. However, Cost shows that, in a close election, he may need to carry it to the same extent he did in 2008. This time around, such an overwhelming majority would require a fired up, angry African-American electorate. Hence, Biden’s inflammatory rhetoric.

To apologize for that rhetoric, or even to walk it back, would amount to a concession that the Republicans don’t actually have it in for African-Americans. That’s not a concession Obama is eager to make.

Thus, while the Democrats were willing to walk back their attack on Romney via Ann Romney’s horse, Biden’s attack via the race card is another matter.

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