Pelosi goes to bat for Biden on "civility" towards segregationists: Hey, he's authentic

One thing about Pelosi, she’s always on message. You can draw a straight line from her babbling in defense of Biden here to her unshakeable opposition to impeaching Trump. In every circumstance, she’s laser-focused on whether something will improve or undermine her party’s chances of winning in 2020. Will impeaching Trump improve Democrats’ chances of winning next year, knowing how it’ll enrage Republican voters and end with him being easily acquitted by the Senate?

No? Then they’re not going to impeach him. Period. Next subject.

Will knifing Joe Biden for waxing nostalgic about the salad days of Senate comity with cretins like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge improve Democrats’ chances of winning next year? He’s the most electable candidate in the field (or so it seems right now), the man who consistently leads Trump by the widest margins in hypothetical match-ups. And unlike Biden and Elizabeth Warren, a President Biden would be less likely to force Pelosi and her caucus into tackling potentially unpopular far-left legislation.

So, again, would knifing Biden here improve Democrats’ chances? No? Then she’s not going to do it. Period. Next subject.

Two ironies here. The first is that Biden’s own advisors seem to have more of a problem with what he said than Pelosi does. A source inside the campaign told Politico that the Eastland/Talmadge reminiscences have been “a point of contention” with him “but there’s only so much we can do. This is his decision.” Said another staffer to WaPo, “It might move him to pick a different senator… But he’s not someone you can go to and just say, ‘You’ve been doing this x number of years and you can’t do this anymore.’ ” If this dude gets elected, he’ll be the second consecutive president to do so by routinely ignoring his own advisors on what is and isn’t “safe” to say to the electorate.

The other irony is the one Ross Douthat pointed out on Twitter last night. Biden’s grasping for a way to play both sides of the Democratic spectrum, veering just far enough left that progressives will grudgingly turn out for him next fall while staying firmly centrist enough that he remains an appealing alternative to Sanders and Warren for mainstream Dems. It’s his centrism, the alleged key to his electability, that appeals to Pelosi, after all. But look what he’s done over the past few weeks: Instead of sticking with his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment, a law with solid public support across the wider electorate, he’s abandoned it. And instead of abandoning the old-boys-club stories about Eastland and Talmadge as a gesture of racial sensitivity, he’s stuck with them — even over the advice of his own staff. It’s ass-backwards. He should have stuck with Hyde and confessed embarrassment at having praised the comity of segregationist colleagues in the past to protect his “electability.” This is why political junkies remain unsold on Biden’s chances despite his polling lead. The guy may know Delaware but his national instincts aren’t great.

Then again, he may have enough friends nationally that even this won’t hurt him. By no means are black Democrats uniform in their criticism of him: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris hit him hard, but they’re competing with him for the nomination. James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, defended Biden yesterday. So did Cedric Richmond, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (and now co-chair of the Biden campaign). He might shake this off, despite the best outraged efforts of Berniebros and Bernie-sisses:

Here’s Booker seizing a rare opportunity to grab voters’ attention by taking it to Biden on CNN last night. Exit question: What lame pander will Uncle Joe engineer to placate the left after this episode? My guess early this morning was that he’d come out in favor of partial-birth abortion, but perhaps he’s headed in a different direction.