Joe Biden is being targeted by several of his 2020 Democrat opponents after the former vice president recalled having “civility” with two segregationist senators in the ’70s.
Answering criticism that he is too centrist in his policies, Biden recalled getting things done with politicians he very much disagreed with when he was a senator representing Delaware.
Sen. James Eastland and Talmadge were both Democrat politicians who opposed desegregation. Eastland represented Mississippi and Talmadge represented Georgia.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said at a New York City fundraiser this week. “He never called me ‘boy.’ He always called me ‘son.’”
Biden called Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”
He continued by saying that even with their differences, the men managed to have “some civility” in the name of getting things done.
“Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done,” Biden said. “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.”
Biden’s comments earned ire from some of his Democrat opponents.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said Biden was “wrong” to joke about being called “boy.”
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,’” Booker said in a public statement. “Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity.”
Booker continued, “I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together and frankly, I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.”
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio took to twitter to pile on Biden. De Blasio posted a picture of his “multicultural family” and said Eastland would have made such a family “illegal.”
“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*ggers,’” the mayor wrote.
He went on to say that Biden is “out of step” with the modern Democrat Party.
“It’s past time for apologies or evolution from @JoeBiden. He repeatedly demonstrates that he is out of step with the values of the modern Democratic Party,” he wrote.
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*ggers." (1/2) pic.twitter.com/yoOOkpaTX2
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 19, 2019
It’s past time for apologies or evolution from @JoeBiden. He repeatedly demonstrates that he is out of step with the values of the modern Democratic Party. (2/2)
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 19, 2019
John Delaney also went after Biden for his remarks.
“Evoking an avowed segregationist is not the best way to make the point that we need to work together and is insensitive; we need to learn from history but we also need to be aggressive in dismantling structural racism that exists today,” Delaney said in a statement.
Biden acknowledged on Tuesday that the “new left” thinks he’s “old fashioned.”
“I know the new New Left tells me that I’m — this is old-fashioned,” he said. “Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president. That’s what it does.”
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