Friday, October 15, 2021


"I do not believe you're an idiot but..."

As we travel down memory lane, recall the moment in a presidential debate early in the cycle when candidate Kamala Harris turned toward candidate Joseph R. Biden and charged

I do not believe you are racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But I also believe- and it's personal and it's actually very- it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.

As seen on the video above, the CNN morning duo in May interviewed Edward Isaac-Dovere, author of "Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaign to Defeat Trump" .During the first commercial break after his opponent's attack,, Joe Biden turned to Pete Buttigieg, leaned over and reportedly whispered "that was some f***ing bull****."  Jill Biden told supporters the following week "with what he cares about, what he fights for, what he's committed to, you get up there and call him a racist without basis? 'Go f*** yourself.'"

Perform an acrobatic sex act upon yourself- or join the ticket as vice-presidential candidate. In the interview, Isaac-Dovere noted that Mr. and Mrs. Biden took the attack "very personally." However, contrary to my cynicism, Isaac-Dovere claims

And it lasted for a long time. It lasted through when they were deciding what the running mate process was going to look like. It left a mark and they have gotten over it since, obviously.

Not so obviously, and we have the evidence from an excerpt from the book, in which Isaac-Dovere wrote

A poll from CBS a few weeks later, in the run-up to the second debate, captured that dynamic. Biden was still ahead, but Warren and Harris were given much higher numbers on being stronger and readier to fight.

“My guess,” Biden said at a campaign stop in Dearborn, Michigan, when asked about the poll, “is that to the extent that it occurs, I was probably overly polite in the way I didn’t respond to an attack, ‘You’re not a racist’—which is a nice thing to say, really reassuring.”

"You're not a racist"- which is a nice thing to say, really reassuring.

The context in no way suggests that Biden was being sarcastic. And no one is that stupid. No one hears "you are not a racist" and doesn't realize that the person is saying "you are a racist." The denial would be unnecessary were the speaker not implying the subject of her remark is racist. Isaac-Dovere explains that during a debate preparation session, advisers to Harris 

argued, go right in, starting the shredding with, “I do not believe you are a racist … ” Make Twitter explode. Become the story of the night.

when Harris asked, “Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” Sean Clegg, another outside consultant, backed her up. That was like saying a person wasn’t a child molester.

In selecting a one-time vicious critic as his running mate, it is unlikely that Biden was convinced of Harris' inherent decency. Rather

The debate was just one night in the campaign, but what it revealed about Biden and about Harris—and about how issues of race and identity factored in for Democratic primary voters—had implications that stretched into the running mate selection process, and beyond.

Biden’s fundamental liability remained that he was an old white man running in a party increasingly defined by young people, Black and Latino voters, and women. That boosted Harris.

Harris was at most only marginally, more popular among young people, and there was no fear that Biden would be pummeled by a charge of being "ageist."  And the Delawarean earlier had pledged that he would select a woman. 

Race had become salient with Harris' remarks and represented a land mine for the front-runner Moreover, Biden had no reason to be confident that an individual who had undressed him publicly on that issue would not do so, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, were he to be elected.  That would be political death for a Democratic president.

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," doesn't mean to reward them profusely, as Biden did by nominating Harris as his running-mate but to remain wary while keeping track of them.  Joe Biden didn't select the California senator as his heir apparent because he decided to let bygones be bygones. Nor was he convinced of her apparent decency or that they would become friends in time.

Instead, he realized that if ever someone were to accuse a President Biden of being racially intolerant or insensitive, it would be Kamala Harris.   The Joe Biden who was thoroughly intimidated decades earlier by Clarence Thomas is still alive and well and living in Washington, D.C.

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