Bi­den’s prob­lem with the Democrats

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Marc A. Thiessen Colum­nist Fol­low Marc A. Thiessen on Twit­ter, @marc­thiessen.

Let’s get this straight: Joe Bi­den is lead­ing in the polls for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion be­cause he’s the most “electable” can­di­date in the Demo­cratic field?

A guy who doesn’t re­al­ize that I worked with seg­re­ga­tion­ists isn’t a win­ning mes­sage with Democrats in 2020?

This is what you get when you turn to a can­di­date who has been in Wash­ing­ton for 46 years. Bi­den was first elected to the Se­nate in 1972, when the Demo­cratic Party was very dif­fer­ent than it is to­day. As a fresh­man sen­a­tor, he had to get along with the se­nior lead­er­ship of his party — which in­cluded seg­re­ga­tion­ists James East­land of Mis­sis­sippi and Her­man Tal­madge of Ge­or­gia.

You may be think­ing: Who in the world are James East­land and Her­man Tal­madge? You’re not alone. Ninety-nine-point­nine per­cent of liv­ing Amer­i­cans had ei­ther for­got­ten their names or never heard of them in the first place, un­til Bi­den de­cided to dredge them up from the fever swamps of the Demo­cratic Party’s sor­did racial past.

Why, you ask, would he do such a thing? Be­cause that’s what Joe Bi­den does. He is a walk­ing, talk­ing gaffe ma­chine. His point didn’t even make sense. He was try­ing to ar­gue that he can work across the aisle with peo­ple with whom he fun­da­men­tally dis­agrees. But East­land and Tal­madge sat on the same side of the aisle as Bi­den in the Se­nate; they were Democrats.

So now his younger, less pop­u­lar Demo­cratic op­po­nents are pounc­ing on Bi­den’s mis­take. Cal­i­for­nia Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris (av­er­ag­ing 7.1% in the polls) de­clared that for Bi­den “to cod­dle the rep­u­ta­tions of seg­re­ga­tion­ists, of peo­ple who if they had their way I would lit­er­ally not be stand­ing here as a mem­ber of the United States Se­nate, is, I think, it’s just mis­in­formed and it’s wrong.” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2.3%) de­clared, “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.” New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio (0.3%) tweeted, “It’s 2019 & @JoeBi­den is long­ing for the good old days of ‘ci­vil­ity’ typ­i­fied by James East­land. East­land thought my mul­tira­cial fam­ily should be il­le­gal.”

Give me a break. No rea­son­able per­son thinks that Bi­den was de­fend­ing or even sym­pa­thetic to seg­re­ga­tion. What Bi­den was try­ing to do — in his own, Bi­deny way — was to de­fend not seg­re­ga­tion but ci­vil­ity and com­pro­mise. But sadly, in to­day’s Demo­cratic Party, those ideas are just as con­tro­ver­sial.

Re­call that in Fe­bru­ary, Bi­den was forced to apol­o­gize for declar­ing — brace your­self — that Vice Pres­i­dent Pence was a “de­cent guy.” Then, a few months later, Bi­den had to back­track on his ef­fort to craft a mid­dle-ground ap­proach to cli­mate change that would be em­braced by both en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and blue-col­lar vot­ers. Af­ter Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Vt., thun­dered, “There is no ‘mid­dle ground’ when it comes to cli­mate pol­icy,” Bi­den soon em­braced the Green New Deal.

And this month, Bi­den was forced to flip-flop and aban­don his four-decade-long sup­port for the Hyde amend­ment — bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion that bars pub­lic fund­ing for abor­tions — af­ter his Demo­cratic op­po­nents at­tacked him for reaf­firm­ing what he once proudly called his “mid­dle-of-the-road” pol­icy on abor­tion.

Bi­den has also been forced to apol­o­gize for his sup­port for the bi­par­ti­san 1994 crime bill, which was signed into law by Demo­crat Bill Clin­ton but which Democrats now blame for the mass in­car­cer­a­tion of African Amer­i­cans. “I haven’t al­ways been right” on crim­i­nal justice, he de­clared ear­lier this year.

In to­day’s Demo­cratic Party, “com­pro­mise” and “con­sen­sus” are dirty words. Bi­den’s prob­lem is not that he is a closet racist; it’s that he does not hate Repub­li­cans and other po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. As he put it on Tues­day, “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.”

That is the point he was try­ing to make in his hamhanded way. And that is what his Demo­cratic op­po­nents are re­ally up­set about.

In a Jan­uary speech, Bi­den said, “I read in The New York Times to­day that one of my prob­lems if I were to run for pres­i­dent, I like Repub­li­cans. Okay, well, bless me, Fa­ther, for I have sinned.” Ap­par­ently, for many on the left, that sin is un­for­giv­able.

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