Joe Biden's Trent Lott moment
[Followup at CBS Early Show blog.]
Will this be Joe Biden's Trent Lott moment?
26 days after Democrats win the mid-terms, Joe Biden exhorts the Republican party to "get back up." Then, Biden (D-Hair Club for Men) claims that, just because the country voted Democrats back into power, that doesn't mean the country really endorsed them. And then, Biden uses South Carolina's pro-slavery past as a "humorous" talking point, to pander to Republicans who think viewing South Carolina's Articles of Secession is the ideal way to celebrate a white Christmas. Even for testing the waters in a Southern state with an early 2008 primary, this is beyond absurd. And oh--this was all before a Republican audience, who lapped it up:
Biden charms local GOP
The speaker was U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, a likely candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
This Yankee senator quickly disarmed his conservative audience, many of whom came expecting partisan attacks on President Bush and Republicans in general. ...
"America needs, and I need, for the Republican Party to get back up," [Biden] said.
The Republicans have been "up" arguably since Gingrich, certainly since Bush took power in 2000, and have controlled all three branches of government since 2002. And look where we are. So, 26 days after the Republicans lose power, Biden thinks they need to be "up" again? Why does America need that? More to the point, why does Biden?
But it gets better. Then Biden--before a Republican audience, remember--goes on to claim that the 2006 midterms weren't really a Democratic victory at all:
"The mid-term election may have been a rejection of the policies of this administration," Biden said. "But it was not an embrace of the Democratic program or the Democratic Party. We're in a state of flux right now and have a lot of problems that need to be resolved."
Sure, a person wants to be gracious. There's no reason to go down there, talk to the losers who led the Republican Party to loss of their status as a national party, and rub their noses in it. But why trash your own party?
But now it gets much better. If you think that's bad, here's what Biden has to say about slavery and Southern secession:
The audience: predominantly Republican.
Biden humorously took note of that in his opening remarks.
"I want to thank you all for allowing me a trip here to speak to only Republicans. It's like my hometown. I just won every district in my state except the one I live in,"he quipped.
The crowd howled.
The senator then pounced on a member's announcement that the [Columbia Rotary Club] would hold its annual Christmas party at the state Department of Archives and History where members could view the original copy of the state's Articles of Secession.
Biden asked, "Where else could I go to a Rotary Club where (for a) Christmas party the highlight is looking at the Articles?"
Probably not many places, no. More yuks:
Biden was on a roll.
Delaware, he noted, was a "slave state that fought beside the North. That's only because we couldn't figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way."
The crowd loved it.
I'm sure they did.
Oh, and just in case anybody forgets what the Civil War was all about, here's what South Carolina's Articles of Secession have to say about slavery. This is what these guys are going to look at in the spirit of "Peace on earth, good will towards [3/5s of] men":
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.
Yep, that's why the the Civil War was fought, alright. Over slavery. Dreaming of a white Christmas, indeed....
But why on earth would a Democratic Senator, in 2006, help enable Republicans to feel nostalgic for the "lost cause" of the slave market and the lash?
What is wrong with this guy?
UPDATE "Trent Lott moment" is an arcane reference to the early days of the blogosphere, when The Man in the Grey Turtleneck helped bring Trent Lott down by amplifying a racist comment Lott made at a memorial for Strom Thurmond. (I first encountered the blogosphere through a Paul Krugman link to that post by Atrios.)
Some compare Biden's racist, stupid, and not funny comment to the racist, stupid and not funny macaca comment by Republican loser George Felix Allen, who famously stuffed a severed deer's head in a black family's mailbox. But I think the Trent Lott comparison is more apt, since the issue in Trent Lott's case is whether he was fit for a leadership position. The question should be the same in Biden's case--all the more now that the Republicans, having been reduced to a regional party based in the South, have decided that Lott is fit for a leadership position after all.
UPDATE Welcome to Atrios, Crooks & Liars, Kos, National Journal, AmericaBlog, American Prospect, BuzzFlash, and CBS Public Eye readers. If this blog can, in its own humble way, contribute a further chapter to the serial demise of the presidential dream for the Harold Stassen of our time, Joe Biden (D-MBNA), then... Well, I won't say we could die happy. Maybe we could just go out and get hammered?