Biden’s cringeworthy backpedal on race signals weakness

by Armstrong Williams, For New Pittsburgh Courier

A criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign for president is that, at age 76, he may be too old to be running for president. His record of success at reaching the pinnacle of politics has been wrought with past failures, and some believed the moment had passed him by. But Donald Trump’s election, on the heels of a historic Barack Obama presidency—an event for which Biden, as vice president, enjoyed a catbird’s vantage—brought Biden’s centrist bona fides and street fighter style back to relevancy.

Biden—a guy who is not too far to the left, who has demonstrated the ability to bridge partisan divides and pass legislation, and who is not afraid to go toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with President Trump—seemed like a viable candidate to beat Trump in 2020.

But then there is his history of making verbal gaffes. Despite his leadership on women’s issues and standing on the forefront of bringing LGBTQ rights to the mainstream, he is seen among his own party as being personally out of touch. It all came to the fore earlier this year when Biden got caught up in a truly absurd #MeToo debacle. As proof of his supposedly lecherous behavior toward women, a photo of him grasping hands and touching heads with rape survivor and women’s rights activist Sophie Karasek made its rounds around the Internet—again.

It was such an innocuous and obvious attempt at empathy that, at the time it was first revealed, the photo went viral—not as proof of Biden’s “creepiness” but of his ability to connect with others’ pain and actually do something to help the plight of rape survivors. But leave it up to liberals to create revisionist history, if necessary, to find a male rapist in power around every corner.

The recent controversy surrounding Biden’s remarks about race is par for the course. They may prove that, if anything, Biden is not too old—but the rest of the Democrats may be too young. They are too young to remember the sacrifice and accommodation that civil rights leaders had to make with segregationists, who in fact were deeply entrenched in positions of power in America. It is completely naïve to believe that, as a rising politician in the early 1970s, Joe Biden would not have had to work with them to get important civil rights legislation passed—including my mentor, former Sen. Strom Thurmond,R-S.C..

Harkening back to those early successes in reaching across the aisle to turn adversaries into allies—wasn’t that President Lincoln’s enduring advice about attaining political influence?—Biden spoke at a gathering in South Carolina. He said of segregationist senators: “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me ‘boy.’ He always called me ‘son.’ Herman Talmage, one of the meanest guys I ever knew—well, guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done.”

One cannot imagine a more benign—and wise—approach to coalition-building than this.

But leave it up to the left, once again, to cry wolf when there’s no wolf in the room. Democratic rivals lined up to attack Biden in the most disrespectful of terms. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) demanded an apology and, when Biden initially refused, stating that his record on race speaks for itself, Booker countered: “What matters to me is that a guy running to be the head of our party…can’t even acknowledge that he made a mistake. He knows better.”

(Reprinted from the New York Amsterdam News.)


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