Biden Apologizes for Segregationist Senator Remarks, but It’s Still Not Enough for Booker and Harris
Joe Biden should have the political smarts to understand that no matter what he says or does on this issue, it still won’t placate grandstanding candidates like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
Well, y’all, it finally happened. Several weeks after talking about how he was able to work with segregationist Senators in the 1970s, and just a couple of weeks after he was dramatically confronted by Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) at the Democratic presidential debate about his comments, Joe Biden has finally broken down and apologized.
The Hill reports:
“Everything they stood for offended me. They represented everything that I ran against.” Biden said in Sumter, S.C. “I do believe we have work to do, even with those who we find repugnant, to make our system of government to work for all of us. I believe then and I believe now, and I know it can be done without compromising on our principles.”
“Folks, now was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it and I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception I may have caused anybody.”
Watch video of Biden’s apology:
"Now was I wrong a few weeks ago, to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was."
— ABC News (@ABC) July 7, 2019
One thing you’ll notice he didn’t apologize for: his stance on busing.
Harris noticed this, too, and made sure to point it out when asked what her thoughts were on what he said:
“He is right to recognize the impact of his words, and I applaud him for doing that,” Harris said of her 2020 presidential opponent during a gaggle with reporters in Hartsville, South Carolina. “There is still a point of disagreement between he and I, and that remains … which is the issue of busing.”
“We cannot rewrite history about what segregationists were doing at that time on a number of issues including opposing busing.”
Watch Harris speak on Biden’s apology below. Note how her demeanor, facial expressions, and posture give off the impression that she still feels she’s in the right on this issue, and that Biden hasn’t walked back his statements enough:
Sen. Kamala Harris on Joe Biden: "He is right to recognize the impact of his words and I applaud him for doing that and having the courage to do it. There is still a point of disagreement between he and I, and that remains." pic.twitter.com/0EynLOnQXl
— The Hill (@thehill) July 7, 2019
After reading what Harris said after she heard about Biden’s speech, I couldn’t help but shake my head – especially when she talked about how “we cannot rewrite history.” That is exactly what she did with her own ever-evolving position on busing.
Rewriting history is also what she did regarding Biden’s original comments – which were about having to work with people you don’t necessarily like to get things done sometimes. I wrote about this in a recent column:
Two African Americans who did not find Biden’s comments “hurtful” were Congressmen James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.). Lewis told reporters that during the ’60s and ’70s he had to sometimes work with members of the KKK and other racists. “We never gave up on our fellow human beings, and I will not give up on any human being,” he also said.
Clyburn and Lewis are two Democratic civil rights icons who are well-respected in the Congressional Black Caucus. After their defenses of Biden on this issue, the debate should have been over. But Harris chose to target Biden at the debate, and in the end it paid off in polling numbers, fundraising, and favorable publicity.
Of course, Harris isn’t the only one who went after Biden on this. Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), too, has been struggling in the polls and rushed to social media and the cameras not long after frontrunner Biden’s comments were first reported:
On Sunday, Booker told ABC’s This Week: “I’ve said my piece. I have a lot of respect for Joe Biden and a gratitude towards him, and … I have to … be candid with him, to speak truth to power.
“He is a presidential nominee and to say something – and again it’s not about working across the aisle, if anything I’ve made that a hallmark of my time in the Senate to get big things done and legislation passed.
“This is about him evoking a terrible power dynamic that he showed a lack of understanding or insensitivity to by invoking this idea that he was called ‘son’ by white segregationists who, yes, they see him, in him, their son.”
Booker said he did not understand Biden’s claim to have been taken out of context, as he had “listened to the full totality of what he was talking about and frankly I heard from many, many African Americans who found the comments hurtful.
“Look, we make mistakes, we sometimes tread upon issues that maybe we aren’t knowledgeable of. I don’t think the vice-president should need this lesson but this was a time for him to be healing and to be helpful especially the time that he is looking to bring this party together and lead us in what is the most important election of our lifetime.
Booker repeatedly demanded Biden apologize for his comments, insinuating that the black community could only begin the healing process from Biden’s “hurtful” words once he did.
Well, Biden has indeed apologized. What did Booker say in response? He’s “frustrated that it took so long” but he’s “grateful” nevertheless or something:
“I’m frustrated that it took so long. But I’m grateful for him doing and we should all — I mean, we can’t have a culture where — we can’t have a leader that can’t stand up and say I’ve been imperfect and I made mistakes and I apologize,” Booker stated. “I’m sorry we had to go through all of this, I’m sorry he tried to shift blame to me. But I’m grateful. I want to say thank you. We need to extend grace to each other. I’m never going to not — not accept somebody I respect and admire that has come to terms with this and apologized.”
That was probably one of the most ungrateful displays of gratitude I think I’ve ever seen.
Watch Booker share his thoughts on Biden’s apology:
Sen. Cory Booker: "I am frustrated that it took so long but I am grateful for [Joe Biden] doing this… I'm sorry we had to go through all this. I am sorry at one point he tried to shift blame to me." pic.twitter.com/dinZurj5K0
— The Hill (@thehill) July 7, 2019
Booker and Harris have a vested interest in keeping this controversy alive. So far, it’s benefited Harris far more than it has Booker as her standing in polling and press coverage has significantly risen while his numbers remain flat, though he’s still getting a good deal of press.
But Harris’s conveniently shifting opinions on busing have given Biden an opening on the issue he didn’t have going into the first debate. He knows her position now is really no different than his, and he can use this information at the next Democratic debate later this month, assuming they share the same stage again.
And if she continues to try to differentiate where there is no real difference, expect Biden’s defenders to get louder, and the normally Democrat-friendly mainstream media to continue to press her on those non-existent differences to the point she’ll be desperately hoping the issue she created out of nothing for political gain will finally go away.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.