It all began at a New York fundraiser Tuesday when Joe Biden pointed to long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned better a generation ago than under today’s “broken” hyperpartisanship.
Biden said “We didn’t agree on much of anything,” described Talmadge as “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” and said Eastland called him “son,” though not “boy,” a reference to the racist way many whites addressed black men at the time. But Biden stressed ‘“At least there was some civility. We got things done.”
In response Booker said “I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together,” said Booker, who is African American.
Bill Deblasio who is married to a black chimed in on Twitter saying “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal.”
Beto piled on saying “For the vice president to somehow say that what we’re seeing in this country today is a function of partisanship or a lack of bipartisanship completely ignores the legacy of slavery and the active suppression of African Americans and communities of color right now.”
But Biden is standing by his comments refusing calls to apologize for saying that the Senate “got things done” with “civility” even when the body included segregationists with whom he disagreed.
Biden took on Booker saying lBiden countered that it was Booker who should apologize because the senator “should know better” than to question his commitment to civil rights, “There’s not a racist bone in my body, I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career,” Biden said.
The 2020 campaign has officially begun.