At a recent fundraiser in New York City, former Vice President Joe Biden reportedly upheld his relationship with prominent white supremacist politicians as a way of showing how he would “[get] things done.” One of his 2020 rivals, Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), is calling on Biden to apologize.
The Atlantic‘s Edward Isaac Dovere tweeted Tuesday night that Biden recalled how he and the late Senator James O. Eastland (D-Mississippi) — who once referred to segregation as “the correct, self-evident truth” and “the law of God” — had “civility” in the Senate and “got things done.”
“[Eastland] never called me boy, he always called me son,” Biden said.
Tonight at a fundraiser in NYC, Biden recalled serving with a major segregationist Mississippi senator: “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland … he never called me boy, he always called me son.” He imitated the drawl. “At least there was some civility. We got things done”
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) June 19, 2019
Biden also reportedly lauded his relationship with Senator Herman Talmadge (D-Georgia), saying, “We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.” As Steve Kornacki wrote for Salon in 2011, Talmadge was such an ardent opponent of the Civil Rights Movement that he famously boycotted the 1964 Democratic National Convention in protest of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the landmark Civil Rights Act that same year.
Cory Booker, who is African American, called out his rival for praising white supremacists and demanded he apologize for “the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans.”
“Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone,” 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.”
“And frankly, I’m disappointed he hasn’t issued an immediate apology,” he added.
As a senator from Delaware, Joe Biden was a fierce opponent of many of the Civil Rights Movements’ goals, like desegregating public schools by way of busing, in which white students from the suburbs were bused to predominantly black schools in cities, and black students were bused to suburban schools in predominantly white neighborhoods. As of this writing, Biden has yet to apologize for teaming up with segregationist senators like Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) and Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) — a former Klansman — on legislation to stop federal funding of busing.
Sen. Booker — a 2020 presidential candidate — also took an extra jab at Biden on his verified Twitter account. When Twitter user Emily Evers posted an image of a woman with a disappointed expression, writing, “me realizing I’m going to have to vote for joe biden in 2020,” Booker quote-tweeted her and responded, “No, you won’t.”
Biden made his remarks on the eve of Juneteenth, which is when slaves in Texas were informed of the Emancipation Proclamation two years after it was issued and given their freedom.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.