Biden Courts Controversy By Praising ‘Civility’ of Segregationists | NTK Network Biden Courts Controversy By Praising ‘Civility’ of Segregationists

Biden Courts Controversy By Praising ‘Civility’ of Segregationists

The former vice president was trying to make the point that elected officials in Washington, D.C. must work together to get things done. But the example he used is quite controversial.

By NTK Staff | 06.19.2019 @9:54am
Biden Courts Controversy By Praising ‘Civility’ of Segregationists

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who began serving in the U.S. Senate in 1972, wistfully recalled during a fundraising event Tuesday his positive working relationships with older Southern Democrats, many of whom supported racial segregation.

Biden cited two names during his remarks, Sens. James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman E. Talmadge of Georgia. Both were Democrats, and both were segregationists.

Here’s what Biden said about Eastland:

The Democratic presidential candidate, who has led his competitors in early polls of the crowded nominating contest, briefly impersonated the southern drawl of the Mississippi cotton planter, attorney and lawmaker. “He never called me ‘boy,’” Biden said. “He always called me ‘son.’”

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.

When campaigning for Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2017, Biden told a more detailed story about working with Eastland.

“I’ve been around so long, I worked with James Eastland,” Biden said when he was stumping for Jones two years ago. “Even in the days when I got there, the Democratic Party still had seven or eight old-fashioned Democratic segregationists. You’d get up and you’d argue like the devil with them. Then you’d go down and have lunch or dinner together. The political system worked. We were divided on issues, but the political system worked.”

He similarly praised Talmadge for his “civility.”

Even with Talmadge — “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” — Biden noted, “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”

Biden’s reason for bringing up these segregationists was to explain that the Senate used to be more collegial. “But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy,” Biden said. “Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

Regardless of his reasoning for bringing up segregationists, it’s highly likely that some Democrats will be turned off by Biden’s remarks. Civility in political discourse is not a prized commodity these days, and even if it were, using segregationists to make your point isn’t exactly a compelling argument.

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