Joe Biden just really cannot keep himself from being Joe Biden, and now both Republicans and Democrats alike are raking him over the coals for — well — being Joe Biden.
At a fundraiser on Tuesday, the former vice president walked into a doozy when he actually held up two southern segregationists (both Democrats) he previously worked with in his early career as examples in political civility.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said, reportedly in a southern accent. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
Sen. James O. Eastland (D-MS) fervently opposed civil rights and is often referred to as the “Voice of the White South.” And he’s not the only one who Biden cited as an example in civility. The other, Herman Talmadge (D-GA), he described as being “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” with the capacity to be civil.
“Well guess what? At least there was some civility,” he said of Talmadge. “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.”
Needless to say, Wednesday has not exactly been a breeze for the former vice president, with both Democrats and Republicans joining forces in a tag-team match to clock him into political unconsciousness.
“I just really don’t understand for the life of me what the vice president could have been thinking, to bring the names of Talmadge and the others who are well-known conservative segregationists into any conversation referencing civility,” veteran Democratic strategist Leah Daughtry told The New York Times. “He needs to issue an apology immediately.”
Biden’s 2020 opponents have taken their turns to knock the former vice president down a peg or two as well. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) firmly rebuked the Democratic frontrunner’s comments as being simply wrong.
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys.’ 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,” Booker said in a statement. “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.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said: “Yes it concerns me deeply if those men had their way I would not be in the United States Senate and on this elevator right now.”
Biden has refused to apologize for the comments and even called on his critics to apologize for mischaracterizing his statements.
“Apologize for what?” Biden said. “Cory should apologize. He knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career, period, period, period.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have used Biden’s latest flub as an opportunity to highlight his incompetency and also point out that the two segregationists he cited as examples in bi-partisanship were Democrats.
“A history lesson is warranted: Senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge were *Democrats*—as were other segregationists,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK). “@JoeBiden & them have nothing to do with ‘bipartisanship,’ so please leave GOP out of Democrats’ debates about their party’s troubled history on race.”
“Tom Cotton for the win!!!” Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted. “Dems and Media desperately to make to make it seem like Biden was reluctantly working with racist Republicans as opposed to his own party is pretty amazing.”