Yesterday, Joe Biden said a bad, bad thing, by 2015 standards — he said, “If you have a problem deciding whether you’re for me or Trump, you ain’t black.”
After a big dust up, driven by our double-standard mainstream media, egged on by Republicans, Biden walked back that comment.
My immediate reaction to Biden’s remarks was: so what? My considered reaction is still: so what? What Biden said was a poorly phrased and unsubtle reflection of a basic truth: Donald Trump is a racist xenophobe, and if you are in one of the groups that he will scapegoat endlessly to motivate his base, you’re making a big mistake if you even consider voting for him.
As someone who’s part Mexican, I know that my mother and her family are a focus of Trump’s hatred. I have no issue telling any of them roughly what Biden said: if they have a problem deciding between Biden or Trump, they’re not paying attention to the way that Trump treats Mexicans.
It’s become commonly accepted that Trump can barely open his mouth without saying something far worse than what Biden said. If Republicans react in any way to Trump’s remarks other than with shrugged shoulders, they defend what he said, or say he was misunderstood. Still, Republicans will attack Biden for anything that he says that is even remotely outside the 2015 norms of acceptable discourse simply because they get political traction from doing so. Part of that traction comes from Democrats who hear what Biden says, cringe, and don’t feel like defending him because what he said is a blunt expression of a truth better expressed in more subtle language.
Wouldn’t it be better in this specific case if Democrats simply shrugged their shoulders, the way Republicans do about Trump’s endless stupidities? Or, better still, Democrats should say that Biden was just articulating a basic truth that everyone knows, and anyone pretending that they don’t understand what he really meant is playing games.