No, it’s not the Boston Herald, but the bastion of liberalism on (ahem) Morrissey Boulevard that pointed out the double standard for Democrats that gave Joe Biden a media pass for his “they goin’ to put y’all back in chains” comment this past week. The Boston Globe’s editors demand an apology from Biden, and some equal treatment for Republicans and Democrats on rhetoric, too:
When Vice President Joe Biden warned a Virginia rally of hundreds of African Americans that Republican efforts to loosen bank regulations meant “They’re going to put y’all back in chains,” Stephanie Cutter, Team Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said the president would have “no problem with those comments.”
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.
After noting Biden’s history of such comments, including the infamous 7-11 remark complete with an attempt at an Indian accident, the Globe wonders why liberals have given Biden a pass for so long. They should care about this as much with Democrats as they do with Republicans, the editors conclude:
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.
Perhaps they understand that this is the best Obama can do for an argument for re-election, Debra Saunders wrote earlier this week in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Vice President Joe Biden played the race card this week when he drawled Southern-style to a racially mixed audience that if Mitt Romney takes the White House, he’ll “unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”
Last week, a super PAC run by a former aide to President Obama released an ad in which a former steelworker all but fingered Romney for causing his 55-year-old wife’s cancer death in 2006 because Bain Capital shuttered the plant where he worked in 2001. The week before, White House aides stood back as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, without providing any proof whatsoever, charged that Romney didn’t pay taxes for a decade.
The president’s henchmen are running a dirty campaign. The worst part of it: These nasty antics are the best Obamaland has to offer.
In other words, the Obama campaign sold “Hope and Change” in 2008; in 2012, they have to try to sell “Hope in Chains.” Today, the campaign confirmed it would not apologize for Biden’s remarks:
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Stephanie Cutter, an Obama deputy campaign manager, said that no apology was necessary and that Biden’s choice of words were “a distraction from the larger argument” about deregulation. She said the Romney campaign has also said things about the president that are offensive, including questioning his patriotism.
“We are not going to be lectured by Mitt Romney,” she said. “That’s completely hypocritical.”
Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff writes today that this is why Barack Obama and his campaign won’t walk it back or apologize, because Biden’s remarks were a deliberate strategy to foster fear and loathing on the campaign trail:
But we should also consider the possibility that Obama affirmatively wants to stand by Biden’s race-baiting.
Jay Cost has argued that Biden’s remark was not a gaffe, but rather an attempt to rally African-American support for Obama. To be sure, Obama has a stranglehold on that vote. However, Cost shows that, in a close election, he may need to carry it to the same extent he did in 2008. This time around, such an overwhelming majority would require a fired up, angry African-American electorate. Hence, Biden’s inflammatory rhetoric.
To apologize for that rhetoric, or even to walk it back, would amount to a concession that the Republicans don’t actually have it in for African-Americans. That’s not a concession Obama is eager to make.
Thus, while the Democrats were willing to walk back their attack on Romney via Ann Romney’s horse, Biden’s attack via the race card is another matter.
Indeed. And perhaps Jack Nicholson said it best in a movie whose title derived from this line: ‘What if this is as good as it gets?”
Meanwhile, Reason reminds us of their February 2009 “Real Men of Genius” ad with Joe Biden …. and wonders whether they should update it for the nonsense of this week: