During Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, ABC News moderator Linsey Davis asked Joe Biden—fresh off being attacked over healthcare and immigration—a question about education and racism.
Davis asked about some bad comments Biden had made about race in 1975, but ended the question this way: “As you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?”
It was a pretty clear question. Was Biden’s answer clear as well? Did he answer the question in any way? Do you know where this is going?
A transcript follows (emphasis mine throughout):
Well they have to deal with the—look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved I started dealing with that. Red-lining, banks, making sure that 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 so the equal...raise... [unintelligible] getting out the 60,000 dollar level. Number two: make sure we, that we bring in to help the student...the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need—we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy.
The teachers are [unintelligible]—I’m married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have—make sure that every single child does in fact, have three, four, and five-year-olds go to school. School! Not daycare. School! We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not want they don’t want to help. They don’t—they don’t know quite what to do!
Play the radio, make sure the television—the, excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the [unintelligible]...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.
Linsey Davis: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Biden: There’s so much we—no, I’m going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here’s the deal. The deal is that we’ve got this a little backwards. And by the way, in Venezuela, we should be allowing people to come here from Venezuela. I know Maduro*. I’ve confronted Maduro. Number two, you talk about the need to do something in Latin America. I’m the guy that came up with $740 million to see to it those three countries, in fact, changed their system so people don’t have to chance to leave. You’re all acting like we just discovered this yesterday. Thank you very much.
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*He pronounced it “Madura.”
At no point did Biden mention slavery.
Update, 10:31 a.m. ET: A good thread on the perniciousness of what Biden was saying.