Bye Bye, Black Vote! To Clueless Joe, McCain = Segregationists

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At this point, I want to see Joe Biden stay in the race to keep Mayor-for-Sale Pete Buttigieg and trollish Amy Klobuchar further down.  But I have to follow a story where it takes me.  And a gratuitous remark about the last question asked in the debate takes me right back to last June — and a story that Biden thought he had put behind him.

This was, you may remember, when Biden reminisced about how well he got along with Democratic segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge back when he was a young Senator.

With a tone-deaf bit of nostalgia Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden ignited a fire around his presidential campaign, speaking wistfully of a time in Washington when he could work civilly with conservatives, including arch-segregationist Sens. James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia.

“He never called me boy, he always called me son,” Biden, speaking at a fundraiser in New York said, referring to Eastland.

And while Talmadge was “mean,” he said, “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.”

The response from many Democrats was quick and angry, with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a black rival for Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, and others accusing Biden of racial insensitivity. By Wednesday afternoon, the fight had become one of the most heated intra-party disputes of the 2020 Democratic primary campaign.

CNN or the New York Times or whoever thought up that last question cannot have possibly imagined that it would lead Biden where he ended up going with a stray remark, even if — perhaps only on an unconscious level — Biden’s old remark might have inspired them.  But Biden was apparently still smarting from the rejection of his nostalgic yearnings by Booker, Harris, and others — and when two other candidates besides him chose John McCain as their answer to the question of what friendship of theirs would surprise people (and another chose Rand Paul), he quietly chortles something along the lines of how now lots of people were celebrating going across the aisle.

i don’t think that many people have noticed it yet, but I did — and the people who read the transcript surely will too.

Look: having been friends with John McCain — though he was an aggressive warmonger in the most bellicose tradition of people who really did think that the U.S. is always right — is not embarrassing.  He stood fast against Trump, and his famous “thumbs-down” on a bullshit attempt to kill Obamacare has clearly stuck deeply into Trump’s craw.

But Eastland and Talmadge?  The Democratic Senators from Mississippi and Florida who used their committee chairs to block civil rights reform and protect Jim Crow as best they could into the waning days of the Carter Administration?  The Senators whom people criticize when they talk about the Democratic Party was the party of segregation, even though those two were among the last segregationist Democrats who hadn’t followed Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and Trent Lott into the Republican Party.


Eventually — and probably not all that eventually, with highly ambitious Mayor Pete on the job — Black voters are going to confronted with how Joe Biden felt that the fact that some Senators were friends with John McCain somehow meant that it was okay that he himself had warm fuzzy feelings about the people who favored using German Shepherds and Water Cannons (and “extrajudicial killings”) against civil rights protesters.

(How is it even possible that Bernie Sanders, a man of the 21st century, is 448 days older than Joe Biden, a man deeply stuck in the midst of the 20th?  It doesn’t seem possible.)


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)