The Cory Booker-Joe Biden beef continues, now with cowardly commentary from Democratic leaders.
Politico reports that Biden called Booker shortly after the New Jersey senator’s appearance on CNN. In an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday, Booker said he and Biden had a “constructive conversation” but that Biden did not apologize for his comments during the call.
But it’s what’s happened away from the central characters in the spat that should cause worry.
As several reports published Thursday night and Friday morning display, the former vice president has not used the days following the initial blowback to ruminate on why his comments were hurtful or walk back his call for an apology from Booker. Instead, he’s cloaked himself in the words of his fellow Establishment Democrats for protection.
Biden met with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday night—for context, CBC chair and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana also serves as co-chairman of Biden’s campaign. Richmond told Politico that the meeting had been scheduled prior to the controversy and that the only item on the docket was criminal justice reform; he has yet to take a public stance on Biden’s comments. (On Wednesday, House Majority Whip and CBC member James Clyburn defended Biden when speaking with Politico.)
Then, on Friday morning, The Hill published a piece documenting various Democratic leaders’ responses to Biden’s comments. They were...not great!
First up, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said, “I think it’s not helpful to Democrats to attack each other at this stage.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein added that she thinks “everybody is picking on” Biden, “press as well as others. He’s the front-runner so he’s the one to shoot down, so to speak.”
Similarly, another Senate Democrat, this one speaking to The Hill anonymously, called Booker’s CNN appearance “a cheap shot” and then dropped this gem:
“I think everybody’s shooting because that elevates, they think themselves, but I also think it has detriment to it because we’re in the same party. What can happen is you can so weaken the front-runner, you may take his place but you may be weakened by it too,” the lawmaker said. “So my view is, don’t snipe at your people. Run your own race.”
Because I feel like I’m going crazy over here: Joe Biden is the leading Democratic candidate in the 2020 field. Biden also has a deep history of being a segregationist sympathizer. And maybe most importantly, the first primary is also 360 days away. The idea that—because Biden is leading now—members of his own party shouldn’t take him to task when he does or says inane shit is so monumentally self-defeating and complacent and revealing of how Democratic leaders operate that it is genuinely depressing. And this is only worsened by the fact that Biden has repeatedly made the decision to invoke white supremacists despite being warned against it by people he pays to advise him.
Is this the most national attention Booker has been able to garner since announcing his candidacy? Absolutely! But is Booker also in the right about the fact that Biden—or any candidate for the Democratic Party but especially Biden—should apologize for happily invoking the days of working alongside and with virulent racists, and also stop doing that entirely? Absolutely!
This is not that hard!