Joe Biden is continuing to suffer from a terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease when it comes to discussing black Americans and their politics.
The tone-deaf former vice president recently claimed “that the Latino community is ‘incredibly diverse,’ ‘unlike’ the black community.”
“Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly diverse attitudes about different things,” Politico reported Biden saying. “You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration than you do in Arizona. So it’s a very diverse community.”
Even more stunning, Biden made these remarks not in some white majority area, nor on some wide-ranging interview on a cable news channel, but in an interview jointly hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists. The question prompting his response was not even relevant to the African American community, as it dealt with foreign policy regarding Cuba and the differing immigration concerns between Cuban Americans and Venezuelan Americans, Politico reports.
As almost every politician is on edge these days, worrying about offending minority voters, one would think that being interviewed by organizations of minority journalists would put Biden on high alert, ready to tread carefully. But this year Biden is almost making a habit of speaking about race more flippantly to interviewers of color.
Biden attempted to walk back his comments in a series of tweets Thursday, claiming that he “in no way” meant “to suggest the African American community is a monolith.”
Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 7, 2020
My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 7, 2020
On the face of his comments this week, that’s a bit hard to believe. Considering past comments, particularly those made on “Charlamagne tha God’s” radio show “The Breakfast Club,” they become almost ridiculous.
In May, Charlamagne closed the interview by inviting Biden to return to the show in the future saying, “It’s a long way until November. We’ve got more questions.”
Rather than diplomatically saying, “I’d love to come back,” or brushing the invite off with a “We’ll see if my schedule allows it,” Biden went on the offensive, in more ways than one.
“You’ve got more questions?” Biden said. “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Doesn’t it sound very much like Joe views the African American community as a monolith? What Biden’s communications staff is able to put out nicely polished on Twitter surely is less representative of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee than the off hand, and sometimes completely unprompted, remarks that he delivers to his interviewers.
But let us go beyond Biden’s gaffes for a second. For any politician to assume that any race will uniformly turn out to vote for him because of their party or policies speaks of the heights of arrogance our leaders have reached.
President Donald Trump’s campaign of course seized on Biden’s latest gaffe, with the president himself tweeting that Biden “is no longer worthy of the Black Vote.”
After yesterday’s statement, Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer worthy of the Black Vote!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2020
That may or may not be the case, but it is unlikely that most black Americans will switch to supporting Trump instead. Biden’s gaffes may cost him votes, but many of them may just disappear from electoral accounting altogether, rather than transferring to Trump’s tallies.
Still, the further Biden stuffs his foot in his mouth, the more likely he is to have shot himself in it come November. As then presidential candidate Barack Obama reportedly put it after one Biden gaffe in the 2008 campaign, “How many times is Biden going to say something stupid?”
Flickr-Phil Roeder, CC BY 2.0