Biden conceded, “It was a mistake. I’ve been trying to change it since then.” Trump jumped on that, saying that trying was not good enough. “But why didn’t he get it done? See, it’s all talk, no action with these politicians. Why didn’t he get it done?” When Biden tried to deflect by pointing out that he and Obama released 38,000 federal prisoners and granted clemency to over 1,000, Trump kept pressing. “Why didn’t you do it in the eight years, a short time ago? … You put tens of thousands of mostly Black young men in prison …. Why didn’t you get it done? You had eight years with Obama. You know why, Joe? Because you’re all talk and no action.”
Finally, Biden delivered a feeble answer: “Because we had a Republican Congress. That’s the answer.” Sorry, but when he and Obama took office in 2009, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and they had a 60-vote filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate for parts of 2009 and 2010. Republicans didn’t win back the House until 2010 and didn’t retake the Senate until 2014. Obama and Biden could have passed anything.
Why was this extended exchange so damaging? Because Biden has an enthusiasm problem with Black voters. One of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 is because the Obama coalition did not turn out for her. Biden was supposed to energize those voters, but according to CNN, Biden’s support among Black voters, a key part of that coalition, is smaller than Clinton’s was in 2016. And The Post reported in late May that only 68 percent of young African Americans aged 18 to 29 said they intend to vote for Biden — 17 points fewer than supported Clinton four years ago.