The Boston Globe demanded that Vice President Joe Biden apologize for racially-charged remarks in a speech delivered this week.
In front of an audience half filled with African-Americans, Biden claimed Republicans want to put blacks “back in chains.” Many left-wing pundits and Democrats rushed out to defend the controversial charge, but the traditionally progressive Globe has broken ranks and condemned the statement.
One of the excuses Democrats made for Biden’s comments is that the audience in Danville, Virginia didn’t have many blacks in it. Therefore, Biden lapsing into a Southern drawl and saying Mitt Romney wants “to put y’all back in chains” surely wasn’t an example of Biden fearmongering with images of slavery. But in its very first paragraph, the Globe demolishes that assertion, saying that Biden was addressing a crowd made up of “hundreds of African Americans.”
The Globe is correct on that point. Video of the event does show that the audience was about half African-American.
The Globe goes on to invoke the inevitable question, “What if it was a Republican?”
But imagine if Republican Paul Ryan uttered comments like that. Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president would be pilloried for racial insensitivity — and so would Romney. In the fight for civility and substance over pointless hyperbole, Biden may not be the worst offender. But he’s an offender nonetheless, and he should apologize.
“Biden has a history of making remarks that would rile up liberals if they were spoken by a conservative politician,” the Globe continues.
And this is the Globe‘s main point. Why, the editorial board wonders, should Democrats be let off the hook for racial insensitivity while Republicans are excoriated at every turn for what is assumed to be the same behavior?
Liberals routinely dismiss Biden’s gaffes as the rhetorical excesses of an overly exuberant speaker — it’s “Joe being Joe.” And there can be something appealing about a politician who throws caution and the script that goes with it to the winds. Yet when conservative speakers get overly exuberant and cross a rhetorical line, they are presumed racist or culturally insensitive, rather than refreshingly free-spirited. One standard should apply.
But was Joe’s latest outrage a “gaffe”? Hardly. Biden’s comment was directly pandering, an acrimonious lie cast at the GOP and intended to rile up African-Americans against Romney/Ryan. This was hardly an absent-minded gaffe. It was a calculated, overt attack on the integrity of his opponents.
What’s more, Biden assumed he’d get away with it simply because he’s a Democrat.
As the Globe says, “One standard should apply.” The paper is right. It’s long past time that there be only one standard. It’s time Democrats stop being given a pass for lying, demagoguery, name calling, and disingenuousness. It’s time Democrats stop being allowed to use race-baiting tactics without reproach.