Somewhere in this clip, one can sense what Joe Biden tried to say. He tried to credit dignity and worth to children who, through no fault of their own, entered the country illegally. If he’d just said that, Biden would probably have gotten a standing ovation from his audience.
What Biden actually did was to insult lots of people who were born here by claiming they care less about America and their communities than the people who entered them illegally. Note well the near-silence with which this was greeted by these South Carolina primary voters (via Twitchy):
Joe Biden on illegal aliens: “And these kids who come, and they end up doing well, they become Americans before a lot of Americans become Americans … I’m serious”pic.twitter.com/FX5LhKtt8i
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 30, 2019
The “I’m serious” is a Bidenism that often accompanies his most offensive statements. It’s as if Biden knows he’s overreached and is trying to bluster his way out of a serious mistake. At least, though, Biden didn’t go full progressive by declaring his support for open borders — oh, wait:
Joe Biden in SC, asked about detention centers for illegal immigrants:
"Close them down…we don't need them!"
In the middle of an immigration crisis, Joe Biden comes out for more open borders. pic.twitter.com/qEmWLeOvwz
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) August 29, 2019
“We found,” Biden tells the audience, “that if you tell people to show up on such-and-such date, people show up!” That’s absolutely untrue; once released, those arrested for crossing the border illegally (as opposed to those seeking asylum through proper channels) usually skip their court date. If caught and deported, they come back across again. The Obama administration operated the same type of detention centers for that reason, right up to the whole “kids in cages” facilities. Closing the detention centers would signal a complete surrender on border enforcement, allowing anyone crossing at any point for any reason to stay in the US indefinitely.
So much for being the moderate in the Democratic primary, both in policy and in tone. His repeated inclination to stick his foot in his mouth has already become an issue on the campaign trail, which should make Democrats nervous about whether he’ll implode in the general election. About the only argument Biden has left for the nomination is electability. Expect him to emphasize his unique standing in battleground voters to you gotta be kidding me right now:
BIDEN: And so it’s not like … I find myself, I think most of the vast majority of the community, young and old, knows where my heart is. And so, I also think … I mean, for example, if they knew there was someone else … let’s say, someone who did not have an overwhelming commitment to the African American community and wasn’t familiar with the opportunities and dilemmas. I doubt whether they’d say, “Well I’d beat that person, even though they don’t understand my community, just because he can beat Trump.” They’d be looking for someone who maybe done them as good a chance of beating Trump, but understands the problems and the opportunities that they face.
And so, I have not … your aunt could be right. I don’t think she is, when the assertion is made that … well, the reason the only person that can beat Trump is, “an old white guy.” I just think that … I think there’s other people in the race who can beat Trump.
[Washington Post reporter Jonathan] CAPEHART: Who?
BIDEN: Well, I think almost anybody.
Capehart’s also worried about what will happen when Biden starts showing up in those African-American communities:
CAPEHART: And [Jamil Smith] writes, “that led me to wonder why we haven’t seen much of him thus far in this campaign talking to the black communities that he told the Times he has, ‘never, ever, ever in my entire life had a circumstance where I felt uncomfortable,’ introducing himself and his policies to our voters. I cannot help but wonder whether he and his campaign consider it too risky to put Biden in front of black folks who may have a particular image of him as a sidekick to their beloved Obama and then he opens his mouth and they’re all confronted with the reality.” What is your response to that?
BIDEN: He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I speak to black communities all the time. Come on. I haven’t come … I invite him to come with me. I invite him to come with me. I go to black churches, I speak in black churches. I show up in black churches. I come to communities that are overwhelmingly black whether it is in Iowa and there’s some black communities there. You watched today how many of those ministers lined up to support me in the town hall today. Look, I mean, the idea that I’m uncomfortable in black communities, tell him to go back to Delaware. Interview anybody you wanna ask in the black community. I’m not saying everybody’s with me. Ask them whether or not I’m there. I’ve always been there. So, this idea that, you know, I [chuckle] open my mouth. What is it that he thinks that I’m wrong about with regard to the problems relating and the limits relating the black community? I mean, open my mouth and then they’re gonna change their view? Well, maybe he should come with me.
Biden’s never had a problem feeling uncomfortable in public. Biden’s problem is that he often feels too comfortable and lets his mouth run off — just as he did with the crowd in South Carolina. Barack Obama was smart enough to keep Biden busy outside of campaign season. Biden’s campaign ought to consider a similar strategy.
Update: Added “do” to the headline for clarity.