Biden: Obama Clean, Articulate, Bright African-American
Joe Biden is set to launch his second run for the presidency today but it will likely be overshadowed by some candid comments made in an interview with Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer.
Most noteworthy is what he says about Barack Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Not surprisingly, Matt Drudge is all over it:
I’m already getting e-mails from GOP operatives touting this, too.
Presuming Biden is being accurately quoted here–which is never a safe assumption with the press–it seems obvious that he left out a rather key phrase (which may have been implied by the context of the larger conversation): “presidential candidate.” And I presume by “clean” he means “clean-cut” rather than “bathes regularly.”
If the quote is, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American presidential candidate who is articulate and bright and clean-cut and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man,” it’s rather unobjectionable. Indeed, I’ve said much the same thing myself.
Jesse Jackson is articulate, bright, and relatively clean-cut; he’s not mainstream. Al Sharpton is bright and articulate but not particularly clean-cut, let alone meanstream. Colin Powell was articulate, bright, clean-cut and mainstream, but not a presidential candidate.
While it’s true that Democrats seem to get more of a pass than Republicans on these sorts of things from both the press and the civil rights establishment, these things always have a context. Aside from an unfortunate joke about the tendency of convenience stores to be run by Indians, which is so obviously true that “The Simpsons” has been running with it for 15-odd years, there’s no evidence of which I’m aware that Biden is racist. By contrast, the “Macaca” flap that ultimately killed George Allen’s candidacy fit in with a lot of circumstantial evidence that was part of a pre-existing “Confederate sympathizing redneck poseur” image.
UPDATE: Steve Verdon suggests in the comments, “I would think clean as in no skeletons in his closet.” That actually makes even more sense. The analysis fits just as well with the above-mentioned candidates. It also covers Carol Moseley-Braun who, I’m reminded, was technically a presidential candidate in 2004 but who decidedly had skeletons in her closet. I’d argue she was also outside-the-mainstream and certainly not “bright” in the same sense as the others.
UPDATE: Nothing at Memeorandum so far. Not a whole lot at Technorati just yet, either. I suspect that will change.
- PJM in Barcelona titles his post, “First Day in the Race, First Faux Pas.”
- Election Geek Blog follows suit: “Joe Biden: A Major Mistake So Early in the Game?”
- Sensible Mom: “Has he never met an educated black man (or are they all considered Uncle Tom’s by people like Biden)? Talk about the soft racism of low expectations.”
- Michelle Malkin: “Who will press Joe Biden to name the names of the inarticulate and dim and dirty and unattractive African-Americans he was thinking about when he, um, complimented Barack Obama?”
- Curt @ Flopping Aces: “So was this a five minute Presidential candidacy or what?”
- Mary Katharine Ham: “A clean black man? The first black guy on the American political scene who can both shower regularly and speak properly? Is that really what Biden thinks?”
Nor is the hammering just from the Right:
- Marcos “Kos” Moulitas: “Really, if we live in a just world, this will be the end of Joe Biden’s political career.”
- Duncan “Atrios” Black: “The are more and less charitable readings of what Biden said, but there’s no way to read it which doesn’t reflect very poorly on Biden.”
- Josh Marshall: “. . . I think at this point you have to say that Biden suffers from what one might with real generosity call chronic racial grandpaism. That is to say, the penchant for making comments that are not only racially offensive but also extremely silly . . . .”
Hmm. It seems that I’m virtually alone in seeing a perfectly innocent explanation for this one.
UPDATE: Steven Taylor has a video collection of Biden saying stupid things.