The Old Gaffer finally struck again last night. Joe Biden talked about education policy on the campaign trail in Iowa, trying to make a point about dumbing down schools to achieve equality. That shortchanges poor students, Biden declared, who are “just as bright and talented as white kids.”
That sound you just heard is the rest of the Democratic field licking their chops:
Joe Biden slip-up in Iowa tonight.
"Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids."
Yikes…have fun mitigating that one. pic.twitter.com/m2VxZbnFHF
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) August 9, 2019
The biggest surprise in Joe Biden’s bid in the 2020 primary campaign is not that he’d say something like this. It’s that it took this long for Biden to stick his foot well and truly into his mouth. Donald Trump’s rapid-response guru gleefully tweeted this out and wished Team Biden “fun mitigating that one,” but they aren’t the only ones who noticed. Bloomberg not only ran with the gaffe but put it in its historical context regarding Biden’s past comments:
“We should challenge students in these schools and have advanced placement programs in these schools,” Biden said. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright, just as talented, as white kids.” He quickly added, “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids, no I really mean it, but think how we think about it.”
“We think how we’re going to dumb it down. They can do anything anybody else can do given a shot.”
Biden has been criticized for his tendency to say awkward, sometimes surprising, things. When his future boss, Barack Obama, was running for president, Biden once remarked that Obama was “clean” and “articulate,” a remark that raised eyebrows.
And here’s the Washington Post noting the Return of the Old Gaffer:
“We should challenge students in these schools that have advanced placement programs in these schools,” Biden said. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
After a brief pause, he added: “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids, no I really mean it, but think how we think about it.”
His remarks prompted a stir on social media on Thursday night, with many focusing on the equivalence he drew, intentionally or not, between poor children and minority children.
The Daily Beast takes note of all the signs behind Biden that should have tipped him off to be more careful. They also took note of the irony:
Joe Biden raised eyebrows Thursday night after telling a crowd made up mostly of Asian and Hispanic voters that “poor kids are just as bright” as “white kids.” The former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was speaking at a town hall for the Asian & Latino Coalition PAC in Des Moines, Iowa, when he made the gaffe.
“We should challenge students in these schools and have advanced placement programs in these schools,” the 2020 frontrunner said. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” …
Biden, who has dubbed himself a “gaffe machine” for his well-documented history with verbal blunders and embarrassing slip-ups, has yet to comment on his remarks, which came just hours after he said President Trump “encourages white supremacists.”
Yes, that will be a bit … awkward. It might be somewhat less awkward for Biden’s Democratic opponents, who have been waiting for a Biden gaffe serious enough to knock him off his front-runner perch in the polls. However, they risk some blowback too if they start attacking Biden as a latent “white supremacist” over this remark, as Biden is generally well liked by Democratic voters, and he might still end up at the top of the ticket anyway. If so, hardball attacks on this gaffe during the primaries will haunt them in the general election. As they say, and as Clark is no doubt preparing, the ads will write themselves.
One interesting aspect of the media coverage on this is how little political cover Biden is getting from reporters. None of the coverage attempts to argue — yet, anyway — that Republicans are “pouncing” on this gaffe. Instead, they point out that Biden had to hastily add the “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids,” etc after realizing his foot was in his mouth. Well, that’s not entirely true. NBC did trot out the “Republicans pounce” in its sub-headline:
The Trump campaign immediately pounced on the 2020 Democratic candidate’s awkward remark, which he quickly corrected.
But even NBC had to note the real problem Biden created for himself:
The awkward course-correction came just days after Biden excoriated Trump for having a “toxic tongue” that he said has inflamed the nation’s divisions, saying that he lacked the moral authority to lead America.
Biden might be fortunate in that the next debate is more than a month away. This might not last as an issue long enough to have it thrown in his face by a 2%er looking to make his/her bones on stage against Biden. But Democrats can’t possibly think this will be a one-off with Joe “Indian accent” Biden, can they?