Joe Biden, while attempting to illustrate how politics were more civil in past decades, bragged about how well he was able to work with racist, segregationist senators in the Democratic caucus in the 1970s, according to NPR.
There were certainly better ways to make a point about civility than to highlight his association with former Democratic Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, and now Biden is paying the price, with heavy criticism coming in from his 2020 opponents.
Here’s what Biden said:
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me ‘boy’; he always called me ‘son.’
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.”
Nothing wrong with working together with people you have political disagreements with, but the two names Biden cited are particularly toxic.
Eastland opposed integration of schools and the military, and opposed civil rights legislation. He is quoted as having said: “In every stage of the bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking n****rs” and calling for a crowd to “abolish the Negro race.”
Talmadge was also pro-segregation.
After being criticized by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, and even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Biden’s campaign spokeswoman Symone Sanders issued a defense of what Biden said.
“@Joe Biden did not praise a segregationist,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “That is a disingenuous take. He basically said sometimes in Congress, one has to work with terrible or downright racist folks to get things done. And then he went on to say when you can’t work with them, work around them.
“Let’s be honest here, a person currently sits in the White House who has ACTUALLY praised white supremacists, refuses to acknowledge the innocence of the #exonerated5 and talks about criminal justice reform, but has yet to allocate ONE PENNY to it in his budget,” Sanders continued.