Biden Hits Sour Note When Touting His Friendship With Segregationists

Alex Edelman/Getty Images North America

Former Vice President Joe Biden seems to have missed the mark in his wistful reminiscing about the “civility” that used to pervade Congress, as he touted his friendships with virulent segregationists at a New York fundraiser Tuesday night.

According to the Washington Post, he was riffing on his ability to “bring people together” when he name-dropped the late Sen. James Eastland (D-MS), who believed that black people belonged to an “inferior race.” Biden proudly said that Eastland called him “son” and not “boy.”

As the Post points out, it’s unclear why Biden felt that this was an indication of respect, as “boy” was a derogatory identifier used to degrade black men.

Biden also cited the late Sen. Herman Talmadge (D-GA), another segregationist who he called “one of the meanest guys I ever knew,” but added that “at least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”

The Biden campaign declined to comment on the record.

Some observers reacted strongly to the anecdotes.

A senior writer at Rolling Stone:

A New York Times opinion columnist:

A Vox editor and cofounder:

Correction: This post originally identified Sens. Talmadge and Eastland as Republicans.

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