‘Record player’ line scratches Biden’s vinyl

The Prince George Citizen - - Seniors - Hugh HEWITT Spe­cial To The Wash­ing­ton Post BIDEN

Just to be sure I heard it cor­rectly, I re­played for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s eye-pop­ping gaffe from last Thurs­day night’s de­bate in­struct­ing poor par­ents to put the record player on to help their chil­dren learn.

“#Record player” was trend­ing on Twit­ter by the time I took to the air­waves at 6 a.m. Fri­day, so my sus­pi­cion had al­ready been con­firmed: this was more than a gaffe that causes eye rolls.

It was one of those gaffes that un­der­scores a can­di­date’s cen­tral weakness and con­tin­ues to bleed away votes long af­ter its ut­ter­ance.

Re­call Sen. John Kerry’s “I ac­tu­ally did vote for the $87 bil­lion be­fore I voted against it,” or then-Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford’s fa­mous “there is no Soviet dom­i­na­tion of East­ern Europe” from a 1976 de­bate. Gaffes are like sharks.

Some are sand sharks that scare you. Oth­ers are Jaws-like beasts.

Af­ter Thurs­day night, Biden is go­ing to need a bigger boat.

Be­cause it will haunt Biden’s cam­paign, let’s be sure to get the ques­tion and an­swer down in full, for con­text’s sake.

Mod­er­a­tor Lin­sey Davis asked Biden, 76: “In a con­ver­sa­tion about how to deal with seg­re­ga­tion in schools back in 1975, you told a re­porter, ‘I don’t feel re­spon­si­ble for the sins of my fa­ther and grand­fa­ther. I feel re­spon­si­ble for what the sit­u­a­tion is to­day, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel re­spon­si­ble to pay for what happened 300 years ago.’”

“You said that some 40 years ago,” Davis continued. “But as you stand here tonight, what re­spon­si­bil­ity do you think that Amer­i­cans need to take to re­pair the legacy of slav­ery in our coun­try?”

Biden re­sponded: “Well, they have to deal with the - look, there’s in­sti­tu­tional seg­re­ga­tion in this coun­try. From the time I got in­volved, I started deal­ing with that. Redlin­ing banks, mak­ing sure we are in a po­si­tion where – look, you talk about ed­u­ca­tion. I pro­pose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Ti­tle I schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 bil­lion a year. Give ev­ery sin­gle teacher a raise, the equal raise to get­ting out – the $60,000 level.

“Num­ber two, make sure that we bring in to help the teach­ers deal with the prob­lems that come from home. The prob­lems that come from home, we have one school psy­chol­o­gist for ev­ery 1,500 kids in Amer­ica to­day. It’s crazy. The teach­ers are – I’m mar­ried to a teacher, my de­ceased wife is a teacher. They have ev­ery prob­lem com­ing to them. Make sure that ev­ery sin­gle child does, in fact, have three-, fourand five-year-olds go to school. School. Not day care. School. We bring so­cial work­ers in to homes and par­ents to help them deal with how to raise their chil­dren.

“It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t – they don’t know quite what to do. Play the ra­dio, make sure the tele­vi­sion – ex­cuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the – the – make sure that kids hear words. A kid com­ing from a very poor school – a very poor background will hear 4 mil­lion words fewer spo­ken by the time they get there.”

So the mod­er­a­tor asked about Amer­ica’s orig­i­nal sin – slav­ery – and Biden some­how got to turn­ing on record play­ers, which wasn’t an ef­fort to coax the hip­ster vote away from Sen. Bernie San­ders, no mat­ter how much the mil­len­ni­als love vinyl.

It was an in­co­her­ent, ram­bling il­lu­mi­na­tion of the key knock on Biden: he’s too old.

For­mer hous­ing and ur­ban de­vel­op­ment sec­re­tary Julián Cas­tro, dur­ing the de­bate, and Sen. Cory Booker, after­ward, made this ar­gu­ment, first in­di­rectly, then di­rectly, but they didn’t need to.

Biden in­dicted him­self on the age ques­tion.

If U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump aban­dons “Sleepy Joe” for “Record Player Joe Biden” on Twit­ter, the tat­too on Biden that is prob­a­bly al­ready per­ma­nent gets inked in bright colours.

Man­hat­tan-Belt­way me­dia may scoff at the sin­gle-phrase brand­ing, but ev­ery mar­keter knows it works and works and works.

“Record player” is like Gov. Chris Christie’s cam­paign-killing knock­down of Sen. Marco Ru­bio at a New Hamp­shire de­bate. “There it is. There it is,” de­clared Christie on­stage. “The mem­o­rized 25-sec­ond speech. There it is, every­body.”

Ru­bio and his sup­port­ers gamely tried for days to ar­gue that what Christie said didn’t mat­ter.

It did.

It was over for the Florida Repub­li­can. A cam­paign-slash­ing brand­ing of “ro­botic” stuck.

Just as “record player” will.

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