Uncle Joe says the darndest (and/or most racially insensitive) things.
New York (3/12/19)
Joe Biden once called state-mandated school integration “the most racist concept you can come up with,” and Barack Obama “the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean.” He was a staunch opponent of “forced busing” in the 1970s, and leading crusader for mass incarceration throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Uncle Joe has described African-American felons as “predators” too sociopathic to rehabilitate — and white supremacist senators as his friends.
And, as of this writing, a plurality of black Democrats want him to be their party’s 2020 nominee.
Whether Biden can retain that support, after voters learn more about his problematic past, could very well determine the outcome of the party’s primary race. To explore that question, let’s pick through the former vice-president’s hefty baggage on racial justice — and then, the case for thinking that Obama’s halo will prove to be brighter than the shadow of Biden’s record is dark.
Biden worked tirelessly, over several decades, to make America’s (profoundly racist) criminal-justice system more punitive than any other advanced democracy’s.
Joe Biden was for desegregating America’s schools, until his constituents were against it. When the Delaware Democrat launched his first campaign for the Senate in 1972, the Supreme Court had just ruled that the Constitution required policymakers to pursue “the greatest possible degree of actual desegregation” — and that forcing white students to attend schools in black neighborhoods, and vice versa, was a legitimate means of doing so. Being an enlightened liberal, Biden began his candidacy as an advocate for such policies. He accused Republicans of demagoguing the busing issue, and appealing to white voters’ ugliest instincts.
But as his campaign progressed, and Biden discerned that the arc of history was bending toward white backlash, the young candidate bent with it. He became a caricature of a white northern liberal — arguing that forced busing was appropriate for the South (where segregation was the product of racist laws), but unnecessary for the North (where, Biden pretended, it merely reflected the preferences of the white and black communities).
Once in the Senate, Biden continued to triangulate, voting for most, though not all, f the anti-busing amendments that came before him. But for his overwhelmingly white constituents, nothing less than massive resistance to busing would suffice. The New Castle County Neighborhood Schools Association booed Biden off the stage at one event in 1974. One year later, the Delaware senator broke ranks with northern liberals— and joined his virulently racist North Carolina colleague Jesse Helms in voting to kneecap all federal efforts to integrate schools, anywhere in the country. …