Joe Speaks

Yesterday Vice President Joe Biden got carried away and maybe used an unfortunate turn of phrase, but, as usual Joe spoke honestly and told the truth.  And how do I know he told the truth?  Just look at Mitt Romney’s reaction.

So what did Joe actually say?  According to the Washington Post

Campaigning in southern Virginia on Tuesday, Vice President Biden told an audience that Mitt Romney’s approach to regulating the financial industry will “put y’all back in chains,” a remark that triggered a flurry of Republican criticism, including a sharp rebuke from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“Look at their budget and what they’re proposing,” Biden said. “Romney wants to let the – he said in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y’all back in chains.”

This set off a firestorm.  Joe walked back the remark a little, but basically stood by what he said.   Mitt Romney went a little nuts.  (and, according to the Daily Kos, a scripted nuts since Mitt used a teleprompter).  The New York Times put it this way

Standing in front of a stately town hall here in central Ohio, under a giant banner that read “Victory in Ohio,” Mr. Romney called Mr. Biden’s claim “another outrageous charge.”

“This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like,” he said.

In a personal dig that he wrote at the last minute Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Romney told the president to “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.”

The Times also reported that the White House stood by the Biden remarks.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seen in a tele prompter reflection waiting to speak to supporters at the Chillicothe Victory rally in Chillicothe, Ohio August 14, 2012.    REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seen in a tele prompter reflection waiting to speak to supporters at the Chillicothe
Victory rally in Chillicothe, Ohio August 14, 2012.  Photograph by Shannon Stapleton.
So what are we to make of all this?  The campaign is going to get very ugly.  I think the Democrats are right to let Joe Biden be the attack dog and hopefully let President Obama be above the fray. But on a fundamental level, Joe Biden is right.  The impact of the Republican proposals is on the poor even more that on the middle class.  And the poor are still to a great extent people of color who understood what Joe was saying. 

So much for the selection of Paul Ryan as the veep nominee as the end of the petty bickering and the start of the campaign of “big ideas.” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul claims that “President Obama’s campaign keeps sinking lower.” What was the offense? Vice President Biden said the word “chains.”

In tone and bite, Biden is to the Obama campaign what John Sununu is to the Romney campaign. Only the vice president is polished and likeable. Biden was speaking at a Virginia rally that the Associated Press reports “included hundreds of black people,” and he warned the assembled that Romney wanted to do away with the post-2008 regulations on Wall Street. “Unchain Wall Street,” Biden said. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” Yeah, that was wince-worthy. It shall join all the others on the Biden blooper reel. But the high dudgeon of the Romney campaign is rather precious.

This is the campaign that seemed perfectly fine with Sununu saying he wished the president “would learn to be an American.”

This is the campaign that has been mute in the face of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) hyperbolic assertion that Obama would “rather you be his slave.”

This is the campaign that is allowing Newt Gingrich to host “Newt University” at the Tampa convention this month. The former House speaker is fond of calling Obama a “food stamp president.”A wicked phrase that has more racial baggage than a klansman’s El Camino.

This is the campaign of the candidate who uttered the equally racially fraught “if they want more stuff from government … more free stuff” when talking to supporters in Montana about what he told the NAACP about his desire to repeal Obamacare.

Let’s all be honest.  This is a campaign about race.  There is a black man in the White House.  The Republican’s are fighting a last ditch battle to maintain a white majority in the United States electorate.  We see this in the allegations of voter fraud and the purging of voter rolls.  We see this in the audiences that surround Mitt and Paul Ryan.  Yes, this is an election about economic policy and jobs, but the subtext is always race.


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