January 31, 2007

Biden gets attention.

Everyone's talking about the interview Biden gave to the NY Observer. But I can't get through to it right now. Drudge is quoting him as saying, about Barack Obama, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Clean! So, then, Biden's campaign is over, right?

UPDATE: I'm on the same page as Kos on this one.

51 comments:

shake-and-bake said...

I'm no Biden fan, but I would think he meant "clean" in the sense that he isn't carrying around a ton of baggage from many years in government. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.

Wade_Garrett said...

Shake and Bake,

That's how I read it, too. But I can't wait for the Republicans to come out and play the, "see, despite their rhetoric its the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are the party of inclusion" card they've been using for the past 20 years everytime a Democrat says something that can possibly be taken out of context.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Biden's campaign is over regardless of what he says, but I think this statement should hurt him only if you assign the worst possible intent to his wording. Its sloppy to make that kind of a statement in such a gender- and race-sensitive campaign season, but its seems clear that its an off-the-cuff spoken remark. Biden's full statement shows that he thinks Obama won't get elected because of his inexperience despite being mainstream, bright, clean, nice-looking. As I write this defense, I'm hesitant because that sentence does sound bad, but a bigger part of me wishes we could give people a little more wiggle room so we can all talk more freely about sensitive topics like race or sex without immediately drawing unfair conclusions of racism and sexism and bigotry.

Simon said...

Biden's campaign is only "over" in the sense that a car is "dead" - the term erroneously supposes some preexisting animate state.

Mark Daniels said...

In fairness to Biden, this is what he told WaPo regarding Obama:

"Look, this guy's incredible," Biden said. "He is really bright. He's fresh. He's new. He has great ideas."

My guess is that in the NYObserver article, "clean" was a synonym for "fresh."

He also lauded the fact that in 2008, there will be a credible female candidate and a credible African-American candidate for President.

Biden does tend to speak off the cuff, which, irrespective of his politics, is something that makes him refreshing to hear. His interview with CSpan, featured prominently on his web site is so refreshingly candid that it reminds you of the interviews given by those who've retired from politics. Freed from the oppression of handlers, ex-pols tend to reveal more of their true selves, making me lament the fact that while "in the game," they concealed a lot of their humanity. But there are obvious risks to being so transparent.

There's little doubt that Biden stepped into it and it is the kind of thing that could prove fatal to his campaign.

Mark

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Old Dad said...

I like Biden. I disagree with him on politics, but he seems like a good egg.

He'd be good for the campaign, so I hope he can hang in there, but his mouth will get him in trouble. The Obama comment is innocent. Sure he said it awkwardly, but everyone knows that he was trying to pay Obama a compliment.

Fritz said...

Biden is what it is, the elite's way of viewing minorities; capable of only random success. Why is Uncle Tom Obama in NOLA? Race-baiting. I voted for Obama because he promised to work with President Bush. Instead he has become the typical cynical leftist. His popularity stems from liberal racism and the phony meme that electing minorities alone is proof of enlightenment. Obama is a light-weight that Hillary will promptly take care of.

Daryl Herbert said...

So the other African-American candidates were either:

A: out of the mainstream
B: inarticulate
C: dim
D: dirty, AND/OR
E: ugly

Maybe Biden can explain which of those categories applies to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Thorley Winston said...

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

So was Biden then suggesting that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are not mainstream, bright, clean, and/or nice-looking guys?

bearbee said...

Over? It never started. Who the heck advises these people on the electability factor?

"...the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

If that's the way Biden expressed himself, then it should really fry Jackson's fanny. Heh, heh...

Bite Me

Invisible Man said...

Fritz,

I probably shouldn't even debase myself by commenting on your strange and extremely silly statement but I don't know why being in New Orleans makes one a race baiter. And your Uncle Tom comment is just mean-spirited ignorance obviously from a person who has read to much right wing literature.

As for Biden, I am a fan because his tendency to bloviate at any occasion makes me laugh. The thought of him running for President has high comedy potential with his penchant for placing his Ferragamo's in his mouth (see 7-eleven comments). I don't think he meant any harm, but I don't think it helps.

Gerald Hibbs said...

I'm not a Biden fan but I wouldn't give him crap for saying this.

A: out of the mainstream
B: inarticulate
C: dim
D: dirty, AND/OR
E: ugly


Jackson: a, d, maybe e (mistresses notwithstanding), one could argue that someone who speaks in rhyme is inarticulate in effect.

Sharptom: Everything but maybe C. Even on C I get the feeling he is more cunning than bright.

Clean and dirty are obviously metaphorical. "Out of the mainstream" is simply a statement of fact (see: reparations)

Gerald Hibbs said...

Sorry, Sharpton isn't inarticulate. He is very witty in debates and is often the best part of watching them. My bad.

Thorley Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thorley Winston said...

I voted for Obama because he promised to work with President Bush. Instead he has become the typical cynical leftist.

I’m not sure if by your comments you think that Barack Obama changed when he went to Washington or if he just reverted to type and you were mislead into thinking that he was “moderate” or “mainstream.”

RogerA said...

Agree with Invisible Man--Biden is great because he is such a BSer and doesn't know when to quit talking.

As to his "clean" comment, I fail to see how anyone could honestly make what appears to be a compliment and twist it into some kind of racial slur; that said, someone will.

AllenS said...

Obviously, Biden meant that Obama doesn't have any tattoos.

Al Maviva said...

he tends to speak off the cuff

By that, do you mean "his mouth is moving, Jim, but his brain appears to be disengaged"?

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daryl Herbert said...

As to his "clean" comment, I fail to see how anyone could honestly make what appears to be a compliment and twist it into some kind of racial slur

Gee, for a black person, he can sure talk English, isn't a Panther thug, isn't corrupt, doesn't have illegitimate children, isn't ugly and he's actually got a brain.

Hey, how dare you twist my compliments as evidence of racism! I'm saying something nice about a black person for a change, he's not like all those other black people!

===

You've never heard of a "backhanded compliment"? Sometimes they're intended that way. If you watch a "roast" you'll see speakers pretending to compliment someone but actually insulting the heck out of them.

Other times they're accidental. In which case, it's a Freudian slip and the speaker is revealing some true feeling of theirs that the listener finds insulting.

RogerA said...

Daryl: I probably should have been clearer--it will be twisted precisely as you describe; I simply don't think Biden meant it in any negative sense. When people like Biden talk, they often dont think prior to speaking (John Kerry comes to mind here--its a plague of epidemic proportions among US Senators.

vbspurs said...

Gee, for a black person, he can sure talk English, isn't a Panther thug, isn't corrupt, doesn't have illegitimate children, isn't ugly and he's actually got a brain.

Heh, exactly.

Assuming Blogger doesn't eat this reply too, let me just say that (white, though not only) people have a hard time complimenting minorities, especially black people.

When is it going to be, that you can compliment a black person on being articulate, elegant, and intelligent, without the negation contrast, being inferred?

If the answer is, "maybe when there's a black President", my reply is, why?

FWIW, I think Biden was indeed issuing a back-handed compliment, perhaps on purpose, but perhaps cynically doing so, so that he can say when challenged, "Why do you have to read into a simple compliment, all this racist other stuff?".

And, on paper, he would be right.

Cheers,
Victoria

Cedarford said...

Thorley Winston said...
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

So was Biden then suggesting that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are not mainstream, bright, clean, and/or nice-looking guys?


What Biden said was clearly meant as a compliment to Obama, as it was on the "plus side" of Biden's ledger while he talked about Obama's lack of experience being what makes him (presently) unelectable as President.

As for Jackson and Sharpton, though I don't think Biden plotted his Obama remarks as a slapdown to them, clearly it is truthful...especially in the "clean" quality. Biden said it, I'm 99.4% convinced as a measure of purity, not hygiene. Biden is a politician who has been around forever, and by "clean" he means it in the sense that not a whiff of scandal or corruption now attaches to Obama.

Jackson and Sharpton both have long histories of shakedowns, moral and financial scandal associated with them that their blackness and assumption of black moral superiority - acts as a shield against the MSM scrutiny. A media shield that would long ago have shutdown a white politician that played the games Jesse and Al have gotten away with for decades.

I knew when I read it that the media would be unable to comment past the "big racial grievance" angle, but his remarks on Hillary and John Edwards were even more telling and perceptive.

1. That Dems have known Hillary for 18 years, the Clintonistas have worked to cement loyalty and she has been the manna-winner for so many pol's campaigns -and yet she only has 30% of the power brokers behind her, IS telling.

2. Biden's assessment of "John" was withering in dismissing him as a lightweight lacking Presidential attributes - blessed only with his slick tongue. (Biden's own tongue is scarred and curiously flattened from all the times he has stepped on it.)

Dewave said...

'Clean' is an absurd word to get hung up over.

The process of jumping all over politicians for a single word is silly, childish, and completely non helpful.

I took the word 'clean' to mean 'clean looking' or 'clean shaven' or perhaps, looking back, it should mean 'new' or 'fresh'.

You know what actually *is* slightly more worrisome? The talk about him being the first articulate and bright 'mainstream' black. This seems calculated to offend all other blacks in public office right now.

So was Biden then suggesting that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are not mainstream, bright, clean, and/or nice-looking guys?

I don't consider them to be mainstream at all. Mostly just hypocritical race baiters. They're definitely eccentric out of the mainstream folks that are not good representatives (as are Keyes, McKinney, Jefferson, etc)

I find the idea that these jokers are the representation of 'mainstream' blacks nearly as offensive as Biden's comments (taken as a whole, not just the silly furor over the word 'clean')

People like Colin Powell don't count?

Wade_Garrett said...

Daryl,

Awesome! Thanks for proving my point. You guys are the best!

Pogo said...

Well, at least Biden didn't plagiarize his comment.

Daryl Herbert said...

wade_, you need to re-read your original comment.

I said nothing about Republicans being the real party of racial inclusion vs. the phony Dems.

My comment in no way resembles your comments. You're living in fantasy_land if you think making a quick statement along the lines of "gee, I can't wait for Republicans to exploit this gaffe" means it's somehow wrong for Republicans to exploit the gaffe.

And how did you figure out that in the future Republicans would exploit the gaffe? Because you saw it on the Drudge Report, where it had been up for hours. You made your "prediction" that conservatives would exploit the gaffe based on the fact that one of the most notorious conservatives on the internet was... exploiting the gaffe!

As far as the "for the past 20 years" part of your comment, that's addressed by Sippican's comment.

bearbee said...

o/t...for those interested:

Free To Choose
In honor of Milton Friedman, we are streaming the ground-breaking Free to Choose series as it originally aired in 1980 as well as an updated 1990 version.

AJ Lynch said...

Joe Biden has been in the Senate for 36 years and he breezes thru his elections with little trouble.

We have a great country but it is unfortunate the Senate has so many f-ed morons like Biden in it. Here is a link to US Senate seniority data. He has company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_United_States_Senators_by_seniority

hdhouse said...

Drudge again. Why God does anyone use Drudge as a source? in this instance he may be accurate but surely there are a dozen other places that are reliable secondary sources. The immediate thought is as if your students wrote a con-law paper and used "little journeys to great lawyers" as a source.

have you no shame?

LoafingOaf said...

Oh dear. Poor Joe. People are gonna start feeling like they gotta walk on egg shells around Obama. lol

Yes, this will be damaging to Biden and he'll probably not be able to get any momentum going. Not because it's fair to make it that big a deal, but because he wasn't a fave candidate of the loudest people in his party to begin with. He just gave them something to hit him with for the rest of the way. When he makes a good point, all someone has to do is change the subject back to this.

But Biden needs to be in the Democratic campaign. He'll make it harder for others to get away with a lack of substance on the war, and I think his idea to split Iraq into autonomous regions is one that needs to be seriously considered amongst other options.

It's worth reading the whole Observer article. For example:

To hear him tell it, Hillary Clinton’s position is calibrated, confusing and “a very bad idea.” John Edwards doesn’t know what he’s talking about and is pushing a recipe for Armageddon in the Middle East. Barack Obama is offering charming but insubstantial fluff. And all of them are playing politics.

“Let me put it this way,” Mr. Biden said. “You didn’t hear any one of them get in this debate at all until they announced for President.”


Yup. Not only did Biden kill himself in this article, he helped highlight that the Demcorats have a worse set of candidates than the GOP.

Let's go Rudy!

Fritz said...

Invisible,
New Orleans represents Republican hatred of blacks; that is why he is there. Drumming up anger because George Bush doesn't care about black people. My Uncle Tom reference was to illustrate the absurdity of that reference used against prominent black figures that are Republican.

Naked Lunch said...

Invisible,
New Orleans represents Republican hatred of blacks; that is why he is there. Drumming up anger because George Bush doesn't care about black people. My Uncle Tom reference was to illustrate the absurdity of that reference used against prominent black figures that are Republican.


He was in NOLA with Lieberman as he is on the Senate Committee for Homeland Security. You dimwit. I doubt residents there need anyone to tell them how they feel about Bush.

You didn't call them "negroes" though. Baby-steps.

Maxine Weiss said...

Off to Rehab....

Nathan said...

Trent Lott was forced to resign his Senate Majority Leader position over much, much, much less.

"Clean" is a very strange word. So strange that you might be inclined to give him a pass on it.

But "articulate"? The PC police has loooooong told us that "articulate," when used in reference to an African-American, is racial code. I didn't make the rules, but by God, I'm going to apply them to (D)s just like they're applied to (R)s.

And it's not like this is the first time Joe Biden has made a questionable comment regarding race. Remember "I'm from a slave state"? Remember "7-11" and "Indian accent," and then the hilarious clarification about "delicatessens" and "Italians"?

Damn it, if there are going to be rules, they need to be applied across the board.

Wade_Garrett said...

Daryl,

I don't read Drudge. I guess the Republicans are so notorious for taking verbal gaffes, taking them out of context and making cheap political hay out of them that more than one person can make that prediction independently of each other.

Gahrie said...

Well given Kos's attack on Biden, I'm guessing his campaign just went from "dead on arrival" all the way up to "completely hopeless".

vbspurs said...

Thanks to Gahrie, I checked Kos -- and though I went for the Biden critique, I saw that:

Molly Ivins has died. She was 62.

Cheers,
Victoria

Naked Lunch said...

Molly Ivins has died. She was 62.

Now there was a great American. Texas Observer Tribute

Revenant said...

Trent Lott was forced to resign his Senate Majority Leader position over much, much, much less.

What color is the sky on your world?

Lott said that America would have been better off if we'd elected a white supremacist instead of Harry Truman. Biden said that Obama is the first decent black Presidential candidate. The two things aren't even in the same ballpark. In NO sense is the latter a much, much greater gaffe than the former.

Nathan said...

It's blue. I live in the real world.

Do I have to point the obvious fact that you've attributed your own interpretation to the two politician's comments, and then said "they're not in the same ballpark"? I guess I just did.

Biden's comment, on its face, smacks of racism. "Articulate"? We know what that means, at least when a Republican says it about a black man. "Clean"?
Clean! Had the same comments been made by a Republican, the coverage and outcry would have been exponentially greater. Same goes for his "7-11/Indian accent" comments a few months ago.

There's a different standard for the Trent Lotts of the world, and you know it.

vbspurs said...

UPDATE: I'm on the same page as Kos on this one.

I understand that Ann wants to make sure others realise she's moderate, by pointing out that "Look! I agree with Kos on this one, and Kos is a progressive, so I can't be all that conservative, right??".

No offence, but progressives just look at this and laugh.

By far, the people who have criticised poor Professor Althouse, have been progressives, so it may be a factual statement "I'm with Kos on this", but it makes no difference to their view that Ann is a Republican stooge.

Cheers,
Victoria

Joseph Hovsep said...

One thing I learned out of this episode that I hadn't realized was how successful Jesse Jackson was in the 1988 primaries (at which point I was in seventh grade and not very politically aware). According to Kos he won 11 states! I had kind of assumed his was a kind of symbolic run with no chance of getting the nomination.

Annie said...

Come on over and join in the fun we're having with this. Of course, I was politically incorrect in my use of the word "redneck" and I apologize to anyone I've offended.

amba said...

That was me.

hdhouse said...

Just for the silly sake of accuracy:

Nathan said..."There's a different standard for the Trent Lotts of the world, and you know it."

Least I remind anyone that it was the GOP and Mr. Bush and Mr. Frisk who ushered out Trent Lott for his statement regarding Strom Thurmond, not the media, not the democrats, but the leadership of the GOP. It had zip to do with political correctness issues or for that matter the statement itself. That's number 1.

Did Biden gaff? yup to an extent but only to an extent. That's number 2.

What is #3 is that the neo-cons on this board just love to twitch and get in a lather - literally foaming at the mouth - when there is a semi-gaffe or less on the part of a democrat. They know full well that the party has the people's support, feels it is regarded (and is) to be more trusted and more competent, and when the GOP is totally incapable of beating the dems on major and secondary issues it resorts to this kinda moonwalk jive crap.

vbspurs said...

Annieamba wrote:

"redneck" and I apologize to anyone I've offended.

You know you're a redneck when...you don't gotta apologise for it.

So it's okay for Jeff Foxworthy to use the term, but not you? Boo.

Cheers,
Victoria

willis said...

Biden's comments seemed harmless to me. He was just saying it would be niggardly to deprive Obama the opportunity to run for the office. Nothing controversial there.

Revenant said...

Do I have to point the obvious fact that you've attributed your own interpretation to the two politician's comments, and then said "they're not in the same ballpark"?

That Lott said the country would have been better off if we'd elected a white supremacist is not an "interpretation" -- it is a fact. Strom Thurmond ran as a white supremacist in 1948. Lott said he was proud that Thurmond carried Mississippi in that election, and that "if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either". So it is a simple fact that Lott said the country would have been better off if it had elected a white supremacist instead of Truman.

You are correct that I "interpreted" Biden's comments -- in the only way they could reasonably *be* interpreted. While it is possible to think that he was saying that every black person in America besides Obama was stupid or dirty, only an idiot could think that's what he really meant. He was plainly referring to the fact that Obama's the first even remotely credible black Presidential candidate.

John said...

So it is a simple fact that Lott said the country would have been better off if it had elected a white supremacist instead of Truman.

It's also a "simple fact" that lots of Democrats have said that the country was better off for electing Woodrow Wilson, a white supremacist, rather than Teddy Roosevelt or Taft, both of whom had far more positive views on race.

So of course context matters. The "simple fact" is not enough. In the case of Thurmond versus Wilson, it matters that Thurmond's entire candidacy's raison d'etre was segregation, unlike Wilson, who just imposed it on DC and in all sorts of federal departments where it had not existed before, but who also had other positions.

That said, Lott tried to explain away his statement with an explanation that perhaps the country would have had a slower, more peaceful evolution towards equality. Hard to buy, though.

Of course some Republicans will take it out of context-- just as some Democratic partisans take comments out of context. (At the same time, no doubt other people will accuse the Republicans who don't take Biden's comments out of context as being so willing to put it in context because they're actually racist and secretly think that he meant the racist interpretation, but that that's true. Or something.)

It's not like Biden is a stranger to opening his mouth and musing his way into odd comments. This is the Senator who argued that since Delaware was a slave state (albeit one that didn't secede), he could do better in the South than most Democrats. Just a strange comment.