In Defense of Joe Biden On Two Counts

Joe Biden-Caricature by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

There is a lot to dislike about Joe Biden.  In fact, there is very little this writer can think of that is likable.  A perfect example is his flip-flop, after 40 years of well-documented support for the Hyde Amendment.  If a call from some D-list actress like Alyssa Milano and some squawking from the Leftists allows Biden to “evolve” on the issue after 24 hours, it is clear he has no moral compass and lacks principle.  The problem for Biden is that he has a long, sometimes tortuous record in public life with many stances that conflict with today’s Democratic Party.

Recently, he came under fire for two so-called controversies that bear some contextual understanding.  And while it is good to see Biden skewered by his own side, on the other hand they belie tactics that are often used against conservative voices and we do not like it one bit.  That tendency on the Left which we despise is to apply today’s morals, mores and beliefs on those of the past.  For example, there was an uproar over the removal of Confederate statues that grew into a discussion of people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other Founders who had slaves.  The Left reached back further in history and has maligned Columbus to the point he is no longer celebrated in certain states.

Columbus may have introduced slavery to the New World, Washington and Jefferson may have owned slaves, and Lee may have led the Confederate forces.  These facts are absolute.  But, by the same token, they were products of their time.  During the time of Columbus, slavery was a lucrative enterprise.  In Colonial America, slavery existed almost since its inception.  They are all maligned today because the Left is applying today’s beliefs- that against the horrors of slavery- to the historical past.  It is easy for us in modern times to sit back and be armchair historians and moral philosophers and quite another to actually live in those times.  History is history- the good, the bad and the ugly.

So what does this have to do with Biden?  The first area where he is on the defensive harkens back to the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, particularly Biden’s handling of the Anita Hill affair.  Biden, as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time, has come under fire using two lines of attack- that he failed to allow corroborating witnesses, and that he sat back and allowed Republican Senators to attack Hill.  This is typical of some rhetoric from the Left courtesy of Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor: “I was shocked and dismayed that Joe Biden was asking questions that didn’t seem appropriate and was not in her corner as a Democrat…”  Imagine that: because he was a Democrat he was obliged to do everything to torpedo a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court no matter how nefarious and, more importantly, false an allegation may be.

As for the corroborating witness line of attack, as best as one can tell there were three.  Two of them, Sukari Hardnett and Wright Shannon, later stated they were willing to testify about the alleged atmosphere in the EEOC offices, if not the specifics of the allegations against Thomas himself.  Another anonymous (of course) source said she could confirm Hill’s allegations.  Regardless, it is now apparent that these three women were issued subpoenas, but all refused to appear.  Hence, the knock against Biden is that he should have forced them to appear.

The problem is that Biden should not have apologized for his role as Judiciary Committee Chairman. He allowed salacious, unconfirmed allegations against a Supreme Court nominee to have a public airing on national television.  He allowed the accused, Clarence Thomas, an opportunity to rebut those allegations.  There was no #MeToo or #BelieveWomen movements at that time.  Biden’s handling of the Anita Hill affair has its analogy of Charles Grassley’s handling of the Blasey Ford allegations against Brett Kavanaugh with one major difference- there was a #MeToo and #BelieveWomen movement at the time.  Hence, if we agree with Grassley’s handling of the allegations under more trying circumstances, we have to agree with Biden’s handling of Anita Hill under less trying circumstances.

The second item is Biden’s comments about former Georgia Senator Herman Talmadge and Mississippi Senator James Eastland.  Well, surprise, surprise- there were some alleged racist, segregationist Senators when Biden was in that body and unsurprisingly we find out they were Democrats.  While it may be true they opposed the integration of schools, or the methods being used, and fought against civil rights legislation, merely working with them on other legislation should not negate the overall thrust of Biden’s comments.  That is, despite obvious differences between Biden and Talmadge/Eastland (he said they agreed on very little), they still managed to work together.  That was the point of the comment.

Once again, it is easy for the armchair historians on the Left to sit back and decry “segregationist” Senators.  They apply today’s standards- “segregation bad!”- to the reality of the past.  Talmadge, for example, was a vociferous opponent against the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.  Yet despite this stance, the Left leaves out that he had strong support from rural blacks in Georgia.  He championed programs that benefited them.

Thus far, Biden has refused to backtrack on his statement regarding Talmadge, Eastland and civility in the Senate and, equally important, working together to get things done.  He has come under attack from New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, also running for president, who was offended by Biden’s remarks…well, at least the 47% African ancestry in him.

Biden’s comments are akin to “I was driving by a statue of Lee the other day and thought about what a good leader he was.”  The fact is, he was a good leader despite fighting for the Confederacy.  And maybe Talmadge and Eastland were legislators one could work with despite one’s differences with them, even on the issue of blacks.  As for the further comments about Eastland (the “he never called me boy” comment), Booker’s racial sensitivity radar is working overtime looking for dog whistles.  He needs to control his righteous indignation because he looks like a fool.  Perhaps, he was imagining another Spartacus moment.

As stated earlier, there is a lot to dislike about Joe Biden.  He has been caught in more than one example of outright plagiarism.  He is gaffe-prone and now appears to succumb to a little pressure to toe the Leftist line on the campaign trail.  He is the person who will say and do anything and kiss a load of butt along the way to get elected.  His son is likely tainted by scandal.  Biden’s role in Russiagate has not been fully explored.  The list could go on.

While it may be amusing to see Biden twisting in the wind of social justice, this writer sees a logical disconnect in the allegations against him.  Lyndon Johnson spent 23 years in Congress in both the House and Senate.  Yet, it is also known that he threw around the N word without regard to who was within hearing distance.  He referred to a proposed 1957 civil rights law as the “N—– bill.”  Remembered as the man who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, Johnson had no commitment to civil rights other than securing votes from blacks.  Is anyone who ever came into contact with Johnson now to be shunned?

Talmadge, Eastland, Fritz Hollings (who Biden recently praised as a “mentor” drawing some criticism) and other Southern Senators at the time could rightfully be called “racists” by today’s standards.  The Democratic Party was loaded with racists (and still is).  Robert Byrd- who has name plastered all over West Virginia,- William Fulbright who has an Senate office building named after him, and Sam Ervin of North Carolina of Watergate fame all led the filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Is Joe Biden, or anyone for that matter who ever had contact with these Senators, now required to do penance at the altar of political correctness?