Pile on: Dem candidates hammer Biden for praising "civility" of segregationist Senate colleagues

Between this and Bernie’s shot at Elizabeth Warren, things are starting to get spicy.

Silly me, I thought the Biden comments from last night that would make the biggest splash were him telling a crowd of wealthy liberals not to worry, that their lifestyles wouldn’t change once Uncle Joe was in the White House. That was a miscalculation on my part. Biden’s already dead to the left; reminding them that he doesn’t want to hang the rich from lampposts doesn’t change any votes. Where Biden is strong is with black voters. If you want to knock him down in the polls, you’d better start denting his support among Obama’s African-American base. Result: Highlight what he said about the “civility” he experienced as a young senator from Dixiecrats James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

Warren came after him for it this afternoon:

Cory Booker, one of the two black candidates in the race, came harder:

Kamala Harris, who’s hoping South Carolina’s black primary electorate is her springboard to the nomination, went right at him too:

Far be it from me to interrupt a blue-on-blue brawl, but Biden didn’t “celebrate” segregationists. Go read what he said. His point was sort of the opposite, that Eastland and Talmadge practiced odious politics but that he put his contempt for that aside and remained cordial with them because, at the end of the day, nothing gets done in the Senate without a majority. He wanted to move the Democratic agenda forward so he was civil to them to keep them voting the right way. His advisor, Symone Sanders, underlined the point this afternoon:

It was and is bizarre that he chose Eastland and Talmadge to illustrate a basic point about working towards a common goal with people you may not like, as there were any number of Republicans he might have named instead. And it was callous of him to praise the “civility” he experienced from Eastland and Talmadge when they cared so little for civility, never mind decency, towards blacks. But he wasn’t “celebrating” segregationists, for cripes sake.

The great thing about a primary, though, is that bad-faith opportunistic outrage is the coin of the realm. There’s going to be so much more of it over the next year. And I, as the kids say, am very much Here For It.

Harris and Biden will be onstage together next week at the second night of debates. It’s a cinch that she’ll bring this up, especially since there are plenty more warm words in the vast Biden archives about segregationist colleagues than what he had to say last night about Eastland and Talmadge. Just don’t let Harris and lefties know that sainted Ted Kennedy, the Senate’s liberal lion, also had not-unfriendly reminiscences about Eastland, as Steve Kornacki recalled this afternoon. In lieu of an exit question, here’s MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt falsely identifying Eastland and Talmadge as Republicans, which I’m sure is an honest mistake and not the product of the media always and forever believing that “racist” equals “Republican.”