If you are absolutely convinced that Joe Biden is the only candidate capable of beating Donald Trump in 2020, then you will not like what follows. But spare me your ire. I am going to go all out and all in for whichever Democratic candidate emerges from the scrum (aka primary debates). But we cannot afford to hide problems with any of the candidates. So …
Former Vice President Joe Biden is known for his gaffes. Some are dismissible (as are gaffes by other presidential candidates), but others cannot be blown off so easily. Charles M. Blow at the NY Times takes Biden to task for his “antiquated” view about race as revealed in his off-hand remarks. Blow claims that Joe Biden Is Problematic. No amount of growth or good intentions will change this fact.
All five of these things are simultaneously true:
Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner and may well be the nominee.
He is by far the favorite candidate among black voters.
He was a loyal vice president to Barack Obama, and the two men seem to have shared a deep and true friendship.
He, like the other Democratic candidates, would be a vast improvement over Donald Trump.
And, Biden’s positioning on racial issues has been problematic.
I’ll spare you all the Biden statements cited by Blow and provide some excerpts.
In the most recent Democratic debate, in his response to a question by a moderator, “he seemed to suggest that black people lack the natural capacity to be good parents:”
We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — the — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.
His language reveals a particular mind-set, one of a liberal of a particular vintage. On the issue of race, it is paternalistic and it pities, it sees deficiency in much the same way that the conservative does, but it responds as savior rather than with savagery. …
… it’s not what Biden says in prepared remarks that’s problematic, it’s what he says off the cuff and under pressure that to me reveal an antiquated view on racial matters and racial sensitivities.
It was the way he advocated for the 1994 crime bill, a bill that contributed to America’s surging mass incarceration, which disproportionately affected black and brown people in this country.
The bill did some good, but the harm it did cannot be overlooked or understated. Rather than fully owning up to to the disastrous aspects of the bill, Biden has over the years bragged about it and defended it.
It was in the way he described then-candidate Barack Obama in 2007 as an African-American who was “articulate and bright and clean.” Clean? As opposed to what?
This critique of Biden isn’t personal. I bear no ill will for the man. But, a fact is a fact, and no amount of growth, change or well-intentioned good-heartedness has the ability to erase it.