At a fundraiser in New York last night (Tuesday), Joe Biden boasted about his ability, in the 1970s, to work with Senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge. Both were arch-segregationists, the former from Mississippi, the latter from Georgia.
Biden described his relationship with the two Dixiecrats as “civil.” Of Talmadge, Biden said, “We got things done, we didn’t agree on much of anything, we got things done.” Of Eastland, he said, “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
That comment is bizarre. If Eastland was going to call any adult “boy,” it would have been a Black, not a White like Biden.
Biden’s rivals in the Democratic presidential field wasted no time pouncing on these remarks. Bill de Blasio tweeted:
It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal & that whites were entitled to ‘the pursuit of dead n—-rs.’
Cory Booker intoned:
Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone,. I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.
Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris piled on.
Looking at the matter rationally, there was nothing improper about Biden working with Eastland and Talmadge on non-racial issues of mutual interest, and nothing wrong with him being civil towards them. But it is beyond tone deaf for a Democrat running for president in 2019 to brag about these things.
Biden never had much of a filter. In old age, it’s not clear that he has any.
The Biden express seems to be rolling towards the Democratic nomination, but it still has a very long way to go. Biden’s loose cannon boasting about his relationship with segregationists reminds us that this train can go off the tracks in the blink of an eye, or rather in the wag of a tongue.