Biden’s Zingers: Weighing the Ones that Matter and Those That Don’t

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biden obama.jpg
Joe Biden, knowing everything he knows today, probably would not vote yes on that resolution make the same comments about his friend, colleague, and presidential primary competitor Barack Obama that he made the other day.
Language is important. Words are — and Senator Biden knows he has some work to do if he wants to make it to the White House.
But this hyperventilation about what Biden said as opposed to what Biden meant is reaching a level of absurdity that is making Biden’s critics look small and more concerned with veneer than substance.
Eugene Robinson’s piece today, “An Inarticulate Kickoff,” cynically piles on, when the article could have done much more.
Joe Biden’s fumble here was that he was trying to compliment a competitor — and should have said perhaps “He’s Hot” or “He’s Da Bomb.”
There are lots of ways that Biden might have said that Barack Obama is a breakthrough kind of personality — and yes, he’s a breakthrough personality in the African-American community that surpasses other African-American political superstars (perhaps) Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
But as a friendly counter to Eugene Robinson, it’s George Bush’s “inarticulateness” that worries me, along with George Bush’s lack of curiosity and intellectual laziness about important policy matters. Don’t you think that when inarticulateness is measured that the real benchmark is the composite of intellectual engagement with the country’s real problems.
Biden can talk a lot. He knows it. I like the unpackaged honesty of Biden’s barrages — but this guy is no racist and doesn’t harbor the views that others have been alleging he does. Joe Biden wanted to say “Barack is hot.”
But who knows what kind of press that would have generated. . . It might have gotten Biden a good cover story on the Washington Blade.
Biden has told us what he meant to say — and he’s apologized. Obama has reported back that he knows what Biden meant to say and appreciates Biden’s sentiments.
I think we ought to now begin asking who has the intellectual capacity to wrestle down tomorrow’s problems. On that scale — just think of what lies ahead.
The uncurious George Bush could be replaced by Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Wesley Clark, Chuck Hagel (I hope), Tom Vilsack, Mitt Romney, John Edwards, or Bill Richardson. I know there are others, but this is enough choices for today.
Nearly any one of these alternatives wrestle with ideas — and believe me, they’ll flop now and then. But America is also about screwing up, realizing the mistake and adjusting, and getting right back at things.
I still admire Biden’s willingness to get out first on a real plan for dealing with Iraq. A lot of folks talked about the need for a new plan — but no one was proposing one. You might not like what Biden-Gelb proposes, but it got folks into details, and that moved the debate forward.
Wesley Clark gets credit for the same sort of thing for being the first major political personality to bluntly say that America needed to engage in direct US-Iran negotiations. What Wes Clark did both in September 2005 and then January 2006 at New America Foundation conferences and then on Meet the Press was brave then and has become conventional wisdom today.
So, hat tip to Biden who survived The Daily Show in good spirits. To me, Biden seemed clean, articulate, . . .
— Steve Clemons

Comments

69 comments on “Biden’s Zingers: Weighing the Ones that Matter and Those That Don’t

  1. tucker's bow tie says:

    Steve … I do like your blog’s layout (even though I think the previous version with the light green background for posts and the different font was nicer) .. but the comments system is quite seriously borked since you/your friendly blog admin clamped down on spammers. It would be great to have a few more options to participate, like a limited html subset for urls and images, quotes, some formatting that would make it easier to read things in context…
    I wonder whether you could get Greg from hexive – Jeffrey ‘Arms Control Wonk’ Lewis’s pal – to give your blog a little makeover?
    just askin’ 🙂

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  2. Arun says:

    The “Indians at 7-11” comment that Biden made rules him out for any advancement in his political career, as far as I am concerned. In this regard, Biden is no different from ex-Senator George Allen of VA and I note the lack of ethics in one who bashes the latter but seeks to advance the former.

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  3. db says:

    “But this hyperventilation about what Biden said as opposed to what Biden meant is reaching a level of absurdity that is making Biden’s critics look small and more concerned with veneer than substance.”
    Bullshit. Your comments make you sound like a fucking idiot. In fact, if you don’t see why the comments were something more than just an innocent mistake, you are an idiot.

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  4. DonS says:

    Determination wins out, eh Steve. I see you unscrambled those links, but they managed to scramble the page format. Sorry for all the trouble.

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  5. Robert M says:

    Let’s get something straight. His family does not descend from Africans in America whom were slaves. Obama Barack is not an African-American nor is Ted Kennedy a European-American. American identity has always been ethnocentric except in the case of the slaves. He is a Kikuyu-American or Luhya-American or some ethnic group from the nation-state of Kenya but not African-American.

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  6. DonS says:

    FYI, Steve – Digby/Hullabaloo gets hung up on my computer at work. I think it does have something to do with spamware particularly re Digby’s site. I tried to post the two links again and got the same message.

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  7. Frank says:

    Steve, I would appreciate your not using the word “experience” in the context of describing any presidential candidate’s credentials. Bush has made that term robustly inoperative . For any blog commentator to use that word in the context of describing a presidential aspirant’s credentials, belies that commentator’s awareness of the existance of that stunning misfit in the white house who has been “running” this country for the last six years. Bush has set an “experience qualification to be president metric” so low that one has to reach up to touch bottom.

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  8. DonS says:

    Thanks Steve. I can asure you it wasn’t a gem, but Digby is raising some important questions related to US politics, Israel and the mideast — and the Edwards/Clinton rhetoric seeming to embrace more preventive war, and not excluding nuclear weapons.

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  9. Steve Clemons says:

    DonS — your post might have gotten blocked in my anti-spam software. Will check in a bit. If it’s there — I’ll be sure to publish your post.
    Steve Clemons

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  10. DonS says:

    I put a post here last night,with a comment and two links to Digby, and go a message that the post would be reviewed, and that I didn’t need to post it again, but it never showed up. I’d never seen that message before (vs the “wait to post again” that I’ve gotten from remote computers). Any clue, Steve, anyone?

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  11. bob h says:

    I agree that this is all over the top. Probably Biden meant “squeaky clean” or ethically clean. When I encounter someone especially articulate, whatever their race, I compliment them.

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  12. Carroll says:

    Meanwhile back to watching all the other cockroaches in the cloak and dagger soap opera …..
    http://www.stratfor.com/
    Geopolitical Diary: Israeli Covert Operations in Iran
    February 02, 2007 0200 GMT
    …. The death of a high-level Iranian nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hassanpour, was announced by Radio Farda and Iranian state television Jan. 25 — a week after his death occurred. The Radio Farda report implicitly related the cause for Hassanpour’s death to exposure to radioactive rays, though the details were murky. Stratfor sources close to Israeli intelligence have revealed, however, that Hassanpour was in fact a Mossad target.
    Hassanpour is believed to have been one of Iran’s most prized nuclear scientists. Some reports claim he was named the best scientist in the military field in Iran in 2003, that he directed and founded the center for nuclear electromagnetic studies since 2005 and that he co-founded the Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan, where Iran’s uranium-conversion facilities are located.

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  13. Carroll says:

    Three autonomous regions with a strong but limited central government”
    Huh? I’m sorry, but my “Internal Contradiction” meter and my Cliche-O-Matic both simultaneously exploded.
    Posted by Den Valdron at February 2, 2007 11:06 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>
    Yea, me too…much more of this logic and pretty soon my head will start spinning round and I will need an exorcism by the neighborhood jesuit.

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  14. ... says:

    is al gore going to be in the running too? the film ‘an inconvenient truth’ is quite a relevant movie and it will become increasingly relevant as we move forward..
    poa, perhaps steve thinks you are giving kucinich plenty of air time so he doesn’t need to.
    it is odd steve refuses to comment on your comments about this though. what is up steve?

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  15. Carroll says:

    Hummm…I don’t have time to go back and look for the previous post on Biden….but on that post I went to his web site and found that his Iraq plan was sponsored under something called “United blah,blah something or other”..and I wondered at the time in a comment who was behind or part of that particular group…
    NOW I notice on going to his web site that the reference to “United whatever” has been removed from his site, at least I can’t find it there any longer…
    Anyone have a clue who is in the “United” whatever group? ..yea, call me suspicious..I am too cynical these days but then it pays to be cynical about politicans.

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  16. Robert Morrow says:

    I would definitely vote for Dennis Kucinich over Hillarious Clinton. I would vote for Bernie Sanders over Hillary.
    Joe Biden is no racist, although if you support affirmative action, you support reverse racism. In fact, Joe Biden has a LONG history of being ultra-pro civil rights, using the liberal definition of the term.
    Also, wasn’t MLK fairly “articulate?” Ditto Jesse especially the 1988 Demo convention speech? Maybe Jesse isn’t as “clean” as Barack and that is the issue, perhaps?

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  17. john says:

    So what if Biden’s remarks were questionable? At least he’s not rumored to be a sexist pig.
    I like this blog better when it’s not making excuses for some candidates and insinuating rumors about others.

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  18. Easy E says:

    Time to move beyond Biden’s comments. The beat goes on, with Biden partly to blame………
    • BUSH WANTS $245 MILLION MORE FOR WARS
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070202/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_war_funding;_ylt=AtwmMEnVorP4XwMDjPD6NfOyFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ–
    • N.I.E.: PERILOUS IRAQ LIKELY TO WORSEN
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/01/AR2007020101152.html
    ***VOTE TO IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY NOW!!!!!***
    http://www.impeachbush.org/site/PageServer
    and start covering some “new blood”.

    Reply

  19. susan says:

    Yes, by all means partition the country, only make sure the (puppet)head of each region is friendly to Exxon and Israel.

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  20. Den Valdron says:

    “Three autonomous regions with a strong but limited central government”
    Huh? I’m sorry, but my “Internal Contradiction” meter and my Cliche-O-Matic both simultaneously exploded.

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  21. DonS says:

    Yeah, I though about that partition plan when David Brooks brought it up on the News Hour tonight. (It seems to be his latest hobby horse to act as if he has something sensible to say). What I thought was: Hmmmmmmmmn, now just what makes us americans think we have the right to tell any country, Iraq include, just how they should constitue their government?
    BTW, Digby is on a tear this evening, quite upset at the dem presidntial hopefuls and their warmongering, which she rightly concludes is feathering junior’s nest for the next preemptive war. You know, they can’t utter the words “all options are on the table” fast and often enough, it seems, particularly to AIPAC-tinged audiences
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_digbysblog_archive.html#117046464485756663
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_digbysblog_archive.html#117045277517722142

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  22. weldon berger says:

    Oh, for god’s sake, Steve. Biden has a plan? Have you read the freakin’ thing? I assume so; maybe you can explain who exactly plays the deus ex machina role in this:
    “1. Establish One Iraq, with Three Regions
    Federalize Iraq in accordance with its constitution by establishing three largely autonomous regions – Shiite, Sunni and Kurd — with a strong but limited central government in Baghdad
    Put the central government in charge of truly common interests: border defense, foreign policy, oil production and revenues
    Form regional governments — Kurd, Sunni and Shiite — responsible for administering their own regions.”
    Who is that does the establishing and putting and forming in this senario? Biden? You? Bush? Who?
    I have a plan, too. It has the virtue of simplicity and it has every bit the chances for success as Biden’s bold stroke. It consists of a single word.
    “Chocolates.”
    There. Problem solved.

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  23. Pissed Off American says:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0131-29.htm
    Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by the New York Times
    Bush Is Not Above the Law
    by James Bamford
    Last August, a federal judge found that the president of the United States broke the law, committed a serious felony and violated the Constitution. Had the president been an ordinary citizen — someone charged with bank robbery or income tax evasion — the wheels of justice would have immediately begun to turn. The F.B.I. would have conducted an investigation, a United States attorney’s office would have impaneled a grand jury and charges would have been brought.
    But under the Bush Justice Department, no F.B.I. agents were ever dispatched to padlock White House files or knock on doors and no federal prosecutors ever opened a case.
    The ruling was the result of a suit, in which I am one of the plaintiffs, brought against the National Security Agency by the American Civil Liberties Union. It was a response to revelations by this newspaper in December 2005 that the agency had been monitoring the phone calls and e-mail messages of Americans for more than four years without first obtaining warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
    In the past, even presidents were not above the law. When the F.B.I. turned up evidence during Watergate that Richard Nixon had obstructed justice by trying to cover up his involvement, a special prosecutor was named and a House committee recommended that the president be impeached.
    And when an independent counsel found evidence that President Bill Clinton had committed perjury in the Monica Lewinsky case, the impeachment machinery again cranked into gear, with the spectacle of a Senate trial (which ended in acquittal).
    Laws are broken, the federal government investigates, and the individuals involved — even if they’re presidents — are tried and, if found guilty, punished. That is the way it is supposed to work under our system of government. But not this time.
    Last Aug. 17, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit issued her ruling in the A.C.L.U. case. The president, she wrote, had “undisputedly violated” not only the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, but also statutory law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Enacted by a bipartisan Congress in 1978, the FISA statute was a response to revelations that the National Security Agency had conducted warrantless eavesdropping on Americans. To deter future administrations from similar actions, the law made a violation a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.
    Yet despite this ruling, the Bush Justice Department never opened an F.B.I. investigation, no special prosecutor was named, and there was no talk of impeachment in the Republican-controlled Congress.
    Justice Department lawyers argued last June that warrants were not required for what they called the administration’s “terrorist surveillance program” because of the president’s “inherent powers” to order eavesdropping and because of the Congressional authorization to use military force against those responsible for 9/11. But Judge Taylor rejected both arguments, ruling that even presidents must obey statutory law and the Constitution.
    On Jan. 17, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales unexpectedly declared that President Bush had ended the program, deciding to again seek warrants in all cases. Exactly what kind of warrants — individual, as is required by the law, or broad-based, which would probably still be illegal — is as yet unknown.
    The action may have been designed to forestall a potentially adverse ruling by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, which had scheduled oral arguments on the case for today. At that hearing, the administration is now expected to argue that the case is moot and should be thrown out — while reserving the right to restart the program at any time.
    But that’s a bit like a bank robber coming into court and arguing that, although he has been sticking up banks for the past half-decade, he has agreed to a temporary halt and therefore he shouldn’t be prosecuted. Independent of the A.C.L.U. case, a criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and a special prosecutor should begin immediately. The question that must finally be answered is whether the president is guilty of committing a felony by continuously reauthorizing the warrantless eavesdropping program for the past five years. And if so, what action must be taken?
    The issue is not original. Among the charges approved by the House Judiciary Committee when it recommended its articles of impeachment against President Nixon was “illegal wiretaps.” President Nixon, the bill charged, “caused wiretaps to be placed on the telephones of 17 persons without having obtained a court order authorizing the tap, as required by federal law; in violation of Sections 241, 371 and 2510-11 of the Criminal Code.”
    Under his program, President Bush could probably be charged with wiretapping not 17 but thousands of people without having obtained a court order authorizing the taps as required by federal law, in violation of FISA.
    It is not only the federal court but also many in Congress who believe that a violation of law has taken place. In a hearing on Jan. 18, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said, “For years, this administration has engaged in warrantless wiretapping of Americans contrary to the law.”
    His view was shared by the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who said of Mr. Bush, “For five years he has been operating an illegal program.”
    And Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, noted that much of the public was opposed to the program and that it both hurt the country at home and damaged its image abroad. “The heavy criticism which the president took on the program,” he said, “I think was very harmful in the political process and for the reputation of the country.”
    To allow a president to break the law and commit a felony for more than five years without even a formal independent investigation would be the ultimate subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law. As Judge Taylor warned in her decision, “There are no hereditary kings in America.”
    James Bamford is the author of two books on the National Security Agency, “The Puzzle Palace” and “Body of Secrets.”

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  24. Pissed Off American says:

    Here are the closing words of Kucinich’s “Plan for Iraq”.
    “In 2002, I led the effort in the House of Representatives challenging the Bush Administration’s plans to go to war in Iraq. I organized 125 Democrats to vote against the Iraq war resolution. The analysis I offered at that time stands out in bold relief for its foresight when compared to the assessments of many who today aspire to national leadership. Just as the caution I urged four years ago was well-placed, so the plan I am presenting today is workable, and it responds to the will of the American people, expressed this past November. This is a moment for clarity and foresight. This is a moment to take a new direction in Iraq. One with honor and dignity. One which protects our troops and rescues Iraqi civilians. One which repairs our relationship with Iraqis and with the world. Thank you.” – Dennis Kucinich
    Steve still chooses to ignore a presidential candidate who has been RIGHT about Iraq since before the invasion. Steve still chooses to ignore a candidate that has consistently opposed this administration and stood up for the American people, and for our values and tenets. Instead, Steve keeps pimping for the very cowards that have abetted this Administration for the last six years, and who ARE NOT lodging any substantive opposition to Bush, who are beholding to the same foreign lobby groups, who are feeding us the same kinds of lies about Iran that Bush fed us about Iraq, and who refuse to stand up and demand accountability for the CRIMES that the Bush Administration has engaged in for over six years now.
    Who’s side is Steve on? Why does he seek to maintain the status quo, instead of giving exposure to the TRUE patriots? Steve has given glowing testimonials to frauds like Biden, while IGNORING a candidate whose stated positions DO offer solutions, DO demand accountability, ARE based on honesty and integrity.
    One has to wonder WHY Steve refuses to comment, or give Kucinich any exposure.

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  25. Kathleen says:

    My first choice for President is still Russ Feingold, so I would rather try to draft him than settle for any other.
    The best plan for peace in Iraq is still the Maliki government’s proposed Plan for Peace in Iraq, first because it came from the Iraqis themselves and second because the war would be over if we accepted it and REPLACED OUR TROOPS with UN INTERNATOINAL PEACE KEEPERS and if we RE-ALLOCATED funding from US Troops to UN Peace Keeping Mission to stabilize and keep the peace in Iraq.

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  26. Dirty Harried says:

    Biden gave a bravura performance in “Matchstick Men.” Biden should stick to what he knows, e.g., detritus. A man’s got to know his limitations.

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  27. Dirty Harried says:

    Biden gave a bravura performance in “Matchstick Men.” Biden should stick to what he knows, e.g., detritus. A man’s got to know his limitations.

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  28. spk says:

    I agree, largely, with what you’ve written, particularly about the media pile-on, but Senator Biden has made similar comments in the past. Much is made of the President’s role as Commander-in-Chief these days, but, and this is why Biden troubles me, the President is also our Diplomat-in-Chief. In Biden’s case, the possible consequences of an unscripted, offensive statement made about another nation or its leaders worry me.
    On another note, thanks for your discussions of Chuck Hagel. Any insights into his likely choice regarding a Senate or Presidential campaign?

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  29. gq says:

    I think people are forgetting one of the central tenents of Obama’s campaign strategy: He’s an attractive, well-spoken guy that connect with people who believes that there is no “Blue America” or “Red America” and doesn’t seem corrupt. That’s what HIS OWN campaign is pushing.
    If you deconstruct the Obama PR strategy a little, you get exactly what Biden said: Attractive, articulate (well-spoken and can connect with people) who’s in the mainstream (no Blue/Red America). He’s also the first African-American who’s thought to have a legitimate chance. There is also the fact that the transcription of the interview was quite misleading.
    I’ve experienced racism first hand on multiple occassions and this was nothing like what it’s like to go through that. However, Biden’s other comments left him open to this interpretation. Even with that, I think Matt Stoller is pretty far off to call Biden a racist. A look at his legislative record makes it hard to reconcile with racism.

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  30. kenj says:

    Howard is politically stuffed on the David Hicks case. There is no good news coming his way. Hicks will either be kept in a legal limbo for several more years, or he will be released and tell all about the abuses at Guanatamo. Either way it’s a total loser for Howard. The Libs are seeing the writing on the wall. Also, further trouble in the Middle East – and especially with Iran – will see Howard thrown out of office. Get used to it, Howard is going to be kicked out.
    We might also remember that Howard, Ruddock and Downer are guilty of serious offenses under Australian law in their advocacy of unjust procedures against Hicks. And their support for the invasion of Iraq constitutes a series of war crimes. They’re criminals. Get used to it.
    Posted by: kenj at February 2, 2007 12:14 PM

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  31. Susan in Iowa says:

    I have always listened to Biden when the topic was foreign policy, but his expertise in that area does not make him presidential material.
    I listened to his pre-Iraq war hearings on C-SPAN and became convinced that the war was a crazy idea. He voted for the AUMF. Also disappointing were his votes in favor of the bankruptcy bill, and his incessant blather during Senate confirmation hearings, when he should have been asking questions.
    This Iowa Democrat will be looking for a candidate with experience, integrity, intelligence, courage, and common sense. In short: a grown-up. I do not sense a lot of interest in Biden among my fellow activists. The triangulating, bloviating, poll-taking, consultant-driven, blow-dried Beltway favorites may have a hard time in the 2008 primaries, and I do not limit that assessment to Biden.

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  32. brat says:

    I concur with the previous posters who think you missed the boat on this. Biden (D-MBNA)has a HABIT of saying really racially offensive remarks. He’s supposed to represent ALL of Delaware–not just MBNA and white elites. But his racial attitudes indicate otherwise. It’s why I’ll NEVER vote him.
    And yes, he is a taller version of Liberman. And just as pompously pious in his own manner.

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  33. ccobb says:

    Above kim @ 10:17 notes about Biden’s patience with George Bush’s handling of Iraq:
    “It was an admirable process of nonpartisanship. ”
    I think I could have agreed with that kind of statement four or five years ago. But now I think the whole tut-tutting about being partisan is a sucker’s game, used to quell dissenting voices that should and frankly must exist in a vibrant democracy. To NOT raise clear objections is not patience, it is political cowardice.
    Biden was as cowardly as the rest of them in regards to Iraq, Obama a prime exception. So how did a junior senator that Biden claims doesn’t have enough experience get it right, and a longtime senator like Biden get it so wrong? Iraq was/is still the most important foreign policy debate of his time, the most obvious application of Biden’s so-called knowledge and leadership. Yet he got everything wrong.
    We know why. He could not swim against the political tide. He thought like Kerry and Edwards and Clinton that it would harm his political aspirations. Au contraire.
    So for me I could care less about Biden’s comments — they are stupid, probably borne out of an unconcious racism though not a malignant one, but they are part and parcel of the hubris. And if it takes this kind of silly gaffe to derail him, so be it.

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  34. Easy E says:

    And the beat goes on (and Biden is partly to blame)……………
    * BUSH WANTS $245 MILLION MORE FOR WARS
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070202/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_war_funding;_ylt=AtwmMEnVorP4XwMDjPD6NfOyFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ–
    * N.I.E. REPORT: PERILOUS IRAQ LIKELY TO WORSEN
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/01/AR2007020101152.html
    ***IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY NOW!!!!!***
    http://www.impeachbush.org/site/PageServer
    and start covering some “new blood”!

    Reply

  35. Aunt Deb says:

    Perhaps Biden is simply an elitist, which explains both the sort of rank-based dismissiveness he directed toward Scott Ritter during testimony on the status of Iraq’s WMD program and this kind of stupid remark about Obama — which is ageist, racist, and simply astoundingly tin-eared. What seems to motivate Biden in his ‘honest’ moments is a sense of his own privileged position being under threat from someone who doesn’t have the same right to ride in the limo.

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  36. Easy E says:

    On a sidenote, Hillary shows her true “hawk” colors…..
    HILLARY CLINTON CALLS IRAN A THREAT TO U.S., ISRAEL
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/02/america/NA-GEN-US-Clinton-Iran.php
    It’s time to give coverage to Kucinich and others NOT beholden to the Israeli Lobby or Military Industrial Complex.

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  37. Marky says:

    As usual,
    Den V. gets it right. There’s no reason Biden deserves and respect. He’s a mediocre Senator who long ago sold out to the corporate world. Unfortunately, he may be better than the average Senator, but he doesn’t deserve to be President—and there’s no chance he will be.

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  38. owenz says:

    This problem with Biden is not that he’s a hardcore racist or an idiot or even a bad senator. It’s that he’s a goofball. He likes shooting off at the mouth, pretending he’s a tv talking head, and generally saying whatever pops into his head. This doesn’t make him bad guy. But it makes him an…inappropriate choice for President. Regardless, saying that he would be improvement on George W. Bush is not exactly high praise. Steve the Drunk Counter Guy at my local Store 24 would be an improvement on George W. Bush.

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  39. DonS says:

    We should worry about and talk about what the truth is, not worry about which “contender” is saying what. They’re all talking predigested garbage. Somehow, presidential politics and the truth don’t make comfortable bedfellows. It’s only the noncontenders,the Kuncich’ and the Feingolds that can get nearer to talking truth because they seem to be more concerned with truth than with being president. The price they pay, here and elsewhere is to get marginalized,and not regarded as “serious”. If your standard for good government is honesty and truth, the US is so dysfunctional it needs hospitalization.

    Reply

  40. Carroll says:

    On to important news flashes..under Believe it or not.
    “Defense Secretary Gates today, via Reuters: “The United States is not planning for a war with Iran and instead is trying to stop them from contributing to the violence in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday. ‘The President has made clear, the Secretary of State has made clear, I’ve made clear … we are not planning for a war with Iran,’ he told reporters.”
    Posted by Laura at 11:06 AM
    War & Piece
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Reply

  41. Carroll says:

    Yea..I agree with POA and others…
    GIVE KUCINICH SOME COVERAGE….
    That man has shown his ethical toughness in his past ..maybe you think he has no chance and therefore is a waste of space but put him up here so people can compare his record and past with the media darling politicans.

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  42. Carroll says:

    I was trying to figure out what Biden meant by “clean”…does he mean as in clean cut young man….or as in he takes a shower every day?..or as in not tainted by corrupting influences? I take it he meant as in “clean cut”, the way you might describe a attractive person…otherwise it would be racist.
    I am not for Biden but I am tired of all this bitchy gossip every time some politican fumbles his words or tries to make a joke as in the case of Hillary…but trust the press and media to promote gossip instead of the important issues.

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  43. Gabriel says:

    Well, he said on the Daily Show that by ‘clean’ he meant ‘fresh,’ as in somebody with new ideas and such. I’m not convinced, but anyhow it’s all been analyzed to death now. The damage is done.

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  44. MFA says:

    Shorter Joe Biden:
    “That Barak Obama is a credit to his race.”
    There was absoltutely no reason to even mention Sen. Obama’s race if the compliments he wished to pay him were not meant to be seen as being a ‘story’ because of his skin color.
    And ‘articulate’ is clearly code–unconcious and unexamed, even unintentionally racist perhaps, but still code–for “darkies who talk white”.
    Obama’s gracious reply notwithstanding, the remarks were not simply “un-PC” of Biden; they exhibited a “socially acceptable” racism–as demonstrated by your own acceptance.
    Don’t pull a Dubya here. Just walk away from Joe Biden, Mr. Clemons. He’s been mush for a long time, and now he’s mush on toast.

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  45. Den Valdron says:

    I’d argue that while Biden is genuinely racist, his racism is an artifact of his own upper class mediocrity. He has neither the wit nor the insight to recognize or repudiate the unstated and implicit values behind his words. He is entirely a creature of his social and economic class, without the capacity to look beyond or look deeper. Ensconced in his comfortable and apathetic superiority, he gazes upon his shallow preconceptions and calls it insight, he looks to his prejudices and mistakes them for convictions, he sees his entitlements as affirmations.
    I’m sorry, but none of this qualifies him to be President, and certainly none of it entitles him to our respect. His shallowness is not a damning sin, but it is not something to be applauded.
    Monty Python had a name for people like Biden: “Upper Class Twit of the Year.”

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  46. tucker's bow tie says:

    Just wanted to throw in my 2c: I think he really thinks of ‘articulate cleanliness’ as a compliment.
    I think he would rather like to describe himself that way: ‘articulateness’ as something he himself posseses plenty of – a ‘something’ that others rightfully describe as loghorrea further up in the thread.
    And ‘cleanliness’ as in ‘clean-shaven’ or something like that. I have have this image of Biden staring at his own, carefully conditioned, mildly perfumed, clean-shaven babyface every morning in the mirror and falling in love with himself all over again 😛
    With ludicrous regularity, Biden’s vanity takes over and he just cant help himself. That’s all. Move along people. So much work to do.

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  47. Roberto Eder says:

    Hi Steve,
    I need to join the chorus of readers who think you missed this one. Biden should be rightfully criticized because his words demonstrate his insensitivity to people who are from minorities. Stand back and hear the undertones of Biden’s words. It is not that Obama is so great. It is that the rest of “your people” are inarticulate and filthy. It’s like 30 years ago someone commenting that “some of my best friends are Negro.” The speaker implies and underlines his supposed superiority. Why, he even has friends who are black!
    Suppose, you Steve were African-American. How would you react to Joe Biden and his supercilious comments about cleanliness and articulateness? My guess, you would be well pissed off. And rightfully so.
    Roberto in Utah

    Reply

  48. carsick says:

    I disagree with so much of Hagel’s voting record (90% conservative voting record; 95% support of Pres. Bush)that I could never vote for him as president. Might make a good Sec. of State though. Under a Democratic president especially.

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  49. Jack Ballard says:

    Hey Steve,
    Biden’s my man now.
    Anybody that can get both branches of wingnuttery on his case must have something going for him.
    He seems to be the only candidate that has the courage to talk about the Iraq problem with the broad scope that it requires. All the other serious candidates are playing it safe and mumbling antisurge platitudes.
    I wouldn’t count him out yet he does come across well in a one on one TV interview. His passion shines.
    Jack

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  50. Den Valdron says:

    I think that its risky running on Biden’s record, because it invites careful scrutiny as to what that record is. It’s a record that essentially sells out the middle and working classes, that ignores minorities, and that largely caters to upper classes and commercial interests. Biden would make a relatively mediocre but unobjectionable country club republican. Beyond that…?
    As for the comment about ‘showhorses’ I don’t understand Zathras concern. In the case of Al Gore, you had a man who was a long term Senator, who had long experience and accomplishments in government and public policy, and who was the most influential VP prior to Cheney. In short, there was a real track record there.
    In the case of John Kerry, you had another long term Senator, and one with a distinguished record of activity and accomplishment, connected to both legislatlion and investigation (notably Iran-Contra and BCCI).
    In comparison with either of these men, Biden is an intellectual pygmy with a few thin reeds of accomplishment. But we’re supposed to bow to a spectacularly undistinguished record?

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  51. Gabriel says:

    Zathras, it’s actually the case that a long public record and service in the Senate can be harmful to presidential hopes. When was the last time a Senator was elected president? I don’t like it, but that’s part of the dynamics of American presidential politics.

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  52. Frank says:

    I remember seeing Biden on TV answering a reporter’s question as to whether the Israeli/Palestinian conflict had anything to do with causing 9/11. He emphatically stated it did not. I was surprised at his answer thinking that the conflict there had to be at least a contributing factor. He appeared to take extraordinary pains in discounting any connection. So much for his assessments on ME diplomacy policy.
    In order to avoid further embarrassment and to salvage his self esteem, he should bow out now. He at least would be memorialized as setting the record for the shortest presidential campaign in U.S. history.

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  53. JMG says:

    Dear Mr. Clemons: Sen. Biden is undoubtedly a valuable United States senator with lots of expertise in foreign policy, your field. That you’ll stand up for him speaks well of Biden’s capacities.
    However, Biden undoubtedly a motormouth with a propensity for saying the exact wrong thing at any given moment. This makes him a totally unsuitable candidate for president, no matter how much he knows or how pure his motives may be.

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  54. Zathras says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Joe Biden, and know enough about how Presidential campaign politics work to regard his candidacy as a long shot under the best of circumstances.
    But he has a record in public life, and the candidates now rated as favorites on the Democratic side mostly don’t. That’s not relevant to a lot of Democratic voters, but it ought to be. In each of the last two Presidential election cycles Democrats were given the opportunity to nominate someone who’d achieved something in public office; in both cases they preferred the show horse, and in both cases they ended up losing elections that all things considered they should have won easily.
    That’s not to say Sen. Biden would win the 2008 election while Edwards, Clinton or Obama would lose (my personal view at this point is that the Democratic candidate is likely to win no matter who is nominated). I’m just pointing out that going for a candidate who is close to a former President or who has spent a lot more time campaigning and tending to his image than he has trying to make government work does not have a terrific record recently.
    And that’s just for the campaign. My reaction six years into the Presidency of a guy who is close to a former President and who before his election spent a lot more time campaigning and tending to his image than in trying to make government work is not “Boy, that was fun. Let’s do that again.” It’s a little early for the Democrats to start looking for stupid reasons to eliminate Presidential candidates who could handle the office.

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  55. Den Valdron says:

    He gave Bush a ‘fair chance’ at Iraq?
    Translation: He was unwilling to challenge a whole pack of obvious lies. Then he went along and gave Bush a ‘fair chance’ to invade and occupy a country which posed no threat to anyone, and then he gave Bush a ‘fair chance’ to run the place into the ground.
    3000 Americans are dead and somewhere between 150,000 and 650,000 Iraqi’s are dead, and there’s a trillion dollars down the drain because guys like Biden gave Bush ‘a fair chance.’
    Go and sing that song to the families of the corpses, and persuade them to vote for Biden.
    Biden wasn’t about ‘nonpartisanship’, he was about selling out, surrendering, licking ass, getting on his knees. He was about being Quisling or Petain, about being the yapping little dog egging on the attack.
    Sorry, but being helpful while war crimes are going on is not useful. There’s such a thing as standing for your principles, and Biden showed us all he had none.
    Biden’s interests are what’s good for Biden.

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  56. Ben Rosengart says:

    Steve, I appreciate your intention to defuse media pile-ons and keep the spotlight on Bush’s failings. It is, after all, some time before the Democrats must choose a candidate for President, while Bush does damage every day.
    However, I think this is not the best use of your energies, for two reasons. One: those criticizing Biden have a point. Even the appearance of racism is simply not OK, and this is not the first time he’s screwed up over race. Two: I don’t think Biden has much to add to this Presidential race. He should stick to the business of the Senate, where he knows what he’s doing, and where his foreign policy chops are definitely needed right now. So if he drops out, I won’t shed a tear.

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  57. Gabriel says:

    I do think it’s true that his campaign is DOA, regardless of what you think of him and of his comments on Obama. The best analogy is with Kerry’s troop comments last fall; you immediately knew that he could never be the Dem candidate for president, even if it was all misinterpreted. I disagree with the commenter above who compared it to the Dean Scream. That incident was goofy, to be sure, and it may have swayed people, but I think there were other factors at play. I don’t see anything preventing Dean from making another run someday, whereas Biden and Kerry are both very much damaged goods now.

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  58. kim says:

    He can be slick and often, he talks too much and is too full of himself. But I like Biden because he gave Bush a fair chance on Iraq, he kept respectfully suggesting ideas to Bush on how to solve a variety of problems, and hung in, still putting forth good ideas, until he realized it was too late.
    It was an admirable process of nonpartisanship. He didn’t play politics, he was interested in solving the problem.
    He’s still proposing ideas. Biden’s a great guy for doing this, for acting like an adult whose interests are what’s best for the country.

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  59. Den Valdron says:

    I’m sorry, that doesn’t wash. Biden is a racist, and the best that can be said of it is that he’s one of those soft, cultured, genteel racist that would never use the word ‘nigger’ out loud. But nevertheless he’s a racist.
    The issue is not what he said about Obama, but what he said about black America, period. His ‘tribute’ to Obama was a backhanded slap. Clean? Articulate? Pretty much a backwards condemnation of blacks.
    Now, under more neutral circumstances, we might think nothing of it. The problem is that Biden’s particular choices of words, of code words, and this brand of inverted racism is part and parcel of overt racism in America. It’s a staple of ‘prettified’ racism.
    There’s no excuse for it. ‘Prettified racism’ has been out there long enough and obvious enough that everyone recognizes it for what it is. No one uses it unless they buy into it.
    Nor should we forget Biden’s other excursion into pretty or not so pretty racism, when he touted Delaware’s Bona Fides as a slave state and noted that it would have been part of the Confederate rebellion ‘if there hadn’t been a couple of states in the way.’
    Credit to Biden for acknowledging that the Civil War and the Confederacy was all about slavery. Something most Confederate apologists are loathe to do. But at the same time, negative credits for appearing to tout historical slavery as a good thing, or a rebellion to preserve that institution as a worthy cause.
    Sure, in this case, Biden was simply pandering to Southern states, kissing ass for Confederates. But think about what that means. And think, for a second, about how such comments would inevitably be taken by blacks, or by non-southerners.
    Or how about Biden’s charming statement: ““you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” Again, there’s the reek of polite, genteel racism.
    One instance might simply be ‘foot’n’mouth’, recurring instances is a pattern. The Man’s character is on display.
    Frankly, I’m not impressed with the defense of Biden. Nor do I think any black, or hispanic, or asian American will be.
    The man has a history of saying these things, and I’m not prepared to make excuses for him. It’s not good enough to say he flubbed or he was inarticulate. All too clearly, it happens often enough to let us have a good idea of the inner man.
    So the guy is a racist, sorry, but there you go. Racism is a great American tradition, and he follows that tradition. Let’s not dress this pig up.
    Nor should it blind us to the various shortcomings that characterize Biden.
    Does anyone remember Biden selling out to the credit card lobbies and passing a bankruptcy reform bill that was massively punitive on the working and middle classes. I guess people at certain income levels don’t worry about that sort of thing… but it was immensely harmful for a lot of people. I call that selling out your constituents.
    Another sell out? His atrociously poor and self absorbed performance at the Alito hearings, where a man with a track record of conflict of interest and extreme right wing ideology and backroom maneuvering had his path to the Supreme Court greased.
    A good look at Biden’s career does not leave one enthusiastic.
    He’s just a taller version of Joe Lieberman, a rotting cesspool of racism and elitism, ruled by a second rate mind, papered over by an unctious smile and a fawning attitude towards anyone he sees as having any form of influence.
    The best that anyone can say about Biden is that he is no George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. On the other hand, he’s completely incapable of handling the mess that they made or ameliorating the harsh effects of their policies.
    He’s a ‘go along to get along’ guy for the entrenched elites, a handmaid to the predatory. In a more comfortable era, he’d be benign and ineffectual. He’d be in his forte as the mayor of some mid-sized sleepy nowhere American city or smaller state, provided that there was no crisis and no pressing need for real developments.
    But as a President? You’ve got to be kidding

    Reply

  60. Matt Stoller says:

    The Delaware slave state comment and the indians at 7-11 comment show that he’s a racist. Is he burning crosses? No. But you are showing tremendous ignorance of race relations in America to not get the coded language at work here.

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  61. JHM says:

    Yes, the whole frenzy over Biden’s remarks on Obama are just another example of the sort of petty nonsense that the press always goes in for in covering Presidential races. I disagree, however, about how Biden did on the Daily Show. As I watched, I could only think, “The longer this guy talks, the less impressive he sounds and the harder it is to imagine him as President.” Whether you like his plan on Iraq or not (I don’t) doesn’t much matter. It’s only a matter of time before he says something even worse (or that sounds even worse, regardless of what he meant) and gets laughed out of the race. His candidacy, like Dodd’s and Vilsack’s, is essentially a vanity candidacy. He’s going nowhere.

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  62. Gabriel says:

    Hi Steve,
    With all due respect, I think that your response above to ATHF shows that you still don’t understand what Robinson was saying. You say that you increasingly find yourself surrounded by articulate non-Caucasians and inarticulate white Americans, and therefore “don’t think [Robinson’s] views hold.” That’s not the point. Robinson was asking why people tend always to describe Obama as articulate, as if it’s surprising that a black man could be articulate. His piece was not at all about which groups are more or less articulate, but rather about attitudes that seem to suggest that educated blacks are somehow not black at all.

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  63. susan says:

    Sorry, Steve, I don’t agree.
    In many ways this was Biden’s version of the “Dean Scream”–a glimpse of the guy’s soul. I didn’t like what I saw, and it was far too easy to recall Biden’s other gaffes-the Indian comments, the plagiarism, the endless logorrhea.
    Even Nixon was able to overcome an overwhelmingly negative puclic perception and rise again-but that was in an age before the 24 hour news cycle. I do not think that Biden can replicate that.

    Reply

  64. Pissed Off American says:

    “I still admire Biden’s willingness to get out first on a real plan for dealing with Iraq. A lot of folks talked about the need for a new plan — but no one was proposing one.”
    Bullshit. Kucinich has had a plan for some time now. And both he and Conyer’s had the BEST plan from the beginning. Their plan? Stop lying to Congress and the American people, and don’t invade Iraq. That was THIER plan. Did Biden have THAT plan, Steve?
    Why do you keep shoving these belatedly wise insincere posturers at us Steve? These people like Biden are no better than the criminals we are currently stuck with. Are you just going to ignore the fact that it is the Hillarys and the Bidens that COMPLETELY FAILED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE by refusing to employ the checks and balances that were designed to protect us from administrations like the Bush regime?
    When you say “get out first on a real plan for dealing with Iraq” you are LYING to us. There are politicians out there that have OPPOSED the Iraq war from its beginning, and whether you want to admit it or not, that OPPOSITION was THE BEST PLAN.
    You cannot HIDE from the truth forever, Steve. Nor can you and your coffee klatch elitist friends conceal the truth forever. The American people are waking up.
    Screw Biden. He is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Reply

  65. Pissed Off American says:

    Steve, why in God’s name do you keep pimping these media packages FRAUDS at us while you ignore the peaople that are truly trying to oppose the Bush administration?
    You want articulate? You want honest? Then why do you ignore articulate honesty?
    Hey Steve, are you just another bought and paid for mouthpiece for a broken democracy and the criminals that broke it?
    Heres honest articulation…..
    “The punishment of Saddam Hussein for the deaths of 148 persons, albeit in a manner that civil society ought to find repugnant, raises compelling questions: Who will be held accountable for sending 3,000 US troops to their deaths in Iraq, for a war based on lies?”- Dennis Kucinich
    http://kucinich.us/

    Reply

  66. Steve Clemons says:

    AquaTeenHungerForce — perhaps you are right and I should have criticized the Eugene Robinson article even more than I did. I like Eugene’s piece normally — but this is not one that moves a debate forward. I think he’s wrong on that front. I have hired hundreds of people in my think tank/policy work and am on nomination committees for scholarships, for various university programs around the country, etc — and I find it difficult to find “articulate” people of any kind. And to be blunt, I find myself around an increasing number of young, articulate people of non-Caucasion complexion. I am frequently confronted with inarticulate white Americans. So, I don’t think his views hold.
    best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  67. AquaTeenHungerForce says:

    Um, I think you missed the point of Robinson’s op-ed entirely. He was focused on why whites, not just Biden, but also the President this week, constantly feel the need to refer to successful African Americans as “articulate” when you never hear the same comment on successful whites.
    As for Wesley Clark, do you give him credit for being outspoken in his recent comment that “the money people in New York are pushing for war with Iran”? Do you need help translating that?

    Reply

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