Joe Biden has never been shy about his love for that imagined era of gentlemanly “civility” in politics, but at a Tuesday evening fundraiser the former vice president made it clear just how low he was willing to stoop in the name of chumminess.
James O. Eastland was an outspoken white supremacist. There’s really no two ways about it. Per the Washington Post:
Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment about why it would be notable that the Dixiecrat — who thought black Americans belonged to an “inferior race” and warned that integration would cause “mongrelization” — didn’t call Biden “boy,” a racial epithet deployed against black men.
Here’s the lede from a 1978 Post article about Eastland’s retirement:
When young Jim Eastland ran for the U.S. Senate for the first time in 1942, one of his campaign promises was to do everything he could to stop blacks and whites from eating together in the Capitol in Washington.
The “boy” comment is just breathtaking in its utter tactlessness. Of course he didn’t call Biden, a white man from a middle-class Delaware family, “boy.”
In the same speech, Biden also reportedly shouted out his ability to work with former Sen. Herman Talmadge, another virulently racist segregationist. If you think I’m being hyperbolic about just how despicable these people were, watch this video of Talmadge when he was governor of Georgia, speaking about ending segregation in his state:
It’s far from the first time the former longtime senator found common cause with segregationists. Biden infamously fought school busing programs to desegregate white and black schools that were geographically separate. The part that Biden doesn’t tell donors in his speech—in which he reportedly suggested he’s too “old fashioned” for today’s politics—is pretty simple: He was friends with the segregationists because it was good politics to be friends with them, and because they supported some of the same policies. Never forget that this is a guy who eulogized Strom Thurmond.
The fact that this is a major, literal selling point for Biden’s campaign is terrifying. Right now, we have a Republican Party empowered to act out institutional racism in a way not seen since the segregationists left. And Biden is insisting he has learned nothing from this, and that he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and shake hands with racists once again.