As gaffe days go, one hopes Thursday sets a low point for President Joe Biden, at least for a while.
First, Biden had a speech and news conference at the White House which should have been a victory lap; he’d just negotiated a bipartisan agreement on a more modest version of his infrastructure bill with a group of Republicans. However, clips of him whispering bizarrely in response to questions by reporters and not addressing the condominium collapse in Shoreline, Florida, until prompted at the end of the event (and then chuckling when doing so) somewhat overshadowed it.
Undaunted, our gaffe prince continued on to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he gave a speech urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and continued to blunder. In one, he said that the pandemic had claimed more American lives than any war since the beginning of the 20th century, including our war with Iran. This was technically correct, inasmuch as we’ve never had a war with Iran.
Nevertheless, he persisted. Biden went on to say that America’s history of racial injustice was in part to blame for vaccine hesitancy among minorities. If that’s indeed the case, he then proceeded, in the space of about 30 seconds, to make a series of tin-eared statements that were either incorrect or racist, and arguably both.
“There’s a reason why it’s been harder to get African-Americans, initially, to get vaccinated: because they’re used to be experimented on — the Tuskegee Airmen and others,” Biden said. “People have memories. People have long memories.
“It’s awful hard, as well, to get Latinx vaccinated as well,” he added. “Why? They’re worried that they’ll be vaccinated and deported.”
BIDEN: “It’s awful hard as well to get Latinx vaccinated… Why? They’re worried they’ll be vaccinated and deported.” pic.twitter.com/gt2mcuAGB2
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 24, 2021
In the years to come, historians may look back on this speech and praise Biden for an economy of stupidity. In so few words, our president managed to pack in so many asininities, errors and offensive assumptions that it almost seems scripted.
There are reasons why the black community might have a long memory about medical experimentation. For instance, that memory is probably long enough that they remember it was the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, not the Tuskegee Airmen, that causes vaccine hesitancy.
The former was a medical study on the progressive effects of syphilis conducted on black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, between 1932 and 1972, when an Associated Press exposé shut it down. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website notes, no informed consent was collected at the beginning of the study and even though penicillin was approved as a cure for the disease a little over a decade into it, the participants were never offered the drug. The latter was an all-black squadron of fighter pilots who fought in World War II and who trained in Tuskegee.
This, surprisingly, isn’t the first time Biden’s made this mistake, and you’d think his people would have not-so-gently impressed upon him how counterproductive this was — all for naught, it seems.
Then we get to Latinos. First, Biden uses the dreadful neologism “Latinx,” used almost entirely by white progressives to refer to people who don’t use it at all. But that’s quotidian compared to the racist assumption that came next: that those Latinos (or Latinx, for those who only comprehend the invented wokespeak dialect) are all illegal immigrants afraid of being deported for receiving the vaccine. And those that are illegal apparently are so ill-informed that they don’t realize it won’t happen.
This is just an outrageous statement from President Biden.
Latinos don’t like to be called “Latinx,” and you’re racist to assume that they’re all illegal immigrants https://t.co/4dV8N0evd2
— Shivam 🇺🇸🍦 (@Shvm_07) June 25, 2021
Well except that most Hispanics or Latinos are not undocumented. https://t.co/nJsb4d5g9z
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) June 25, 2021
People noticed. And yes, while the tweets that follow are mostly from conservatives, consider that the two tweets above come from a Democrat and self-described “election nerd” and Carlos Curbelo, a former very moderate Republican (and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way) U.S. representative who works as an analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.
Likewise, this is mostly conservatives — but not all:
This is insanely racist https://t.co/MlWpdAcs6o
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) June 25, 2021
Can this guy be more of a racist? https://t.co/clrvEeEb4e
— InTwistSting (@InTwistSting) June 25, 2021
I’m telling you, he’s the biggest racist in the country. https://t.co/kNxGsQQyVB
— Buzz Patterson (@BuzzPatterson) June 25, 2021
This is so racist. https://t.co/4GATO4Yl0m
— Altuve 4HoF ⚾🍊🏆🍊⚾ (@ErinAstrosFan) June 25, 2021
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) June 25, 2021
Another Twitter thought that’s worth sharing:
Joe Biden’s comments explain why Democrats lost so much ground with Hispanics.
He thinks most Latinos are here illegally. We are not.
He thinks Hispanics like being called “Latinx.” We hate it; I can’t imagine a scenario where it’s ok to impose an unpopular label on minorities. https://t.co/XDXySOVgcM
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) June 25, 2021
Keep in mind, the Latino — sorry, Latinx — vote was supposed to be why the future was so bright for the Democrats. Remember “demographics is destiny?” That wasn’t the case in the 2020 election or since.
And then there’s Joe Biden and his racial solecisms:
People have a long term memory never forget. “They never forget” pic.twitter.com/sFarRR4QeZ
— Brett Stevens (@Bms563) June 25, 2021
Our president has a history of this sort of thing, and not just in 1977. In fact, we can just limit this to the 2020 election cycle.
Remember Biden touting his work with openly racist segregationists to stop federal busing? At the beginning of his campaign, when Biden was talking about how he would restore bipartisanship to Washington, he talked about his work with people like former Mississippi Democrat Sen. James Eastland as a period of “civility” in D.C. Eastland, he said, ““never called me ‘boy.’ He called me ‘son.'”
Eastland had harsher words for black people, who he called “an inferior race.”
Then there were the gaffes on the presidential trail. My personal (probably the wrong word) favorite: “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” he told an Iowa audience in August of 2019.
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
Runner up, his appearance on black-centric syndicated morning radio show “The Breakfast Club”: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
.@JoeBiden: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” @cthagod: “It don’t have nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact — I want something for my community.” @breakfastclubam pic.twitter.com/endvWnOIV2
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) May 22, 2020
Interesting question I’ve heard posed a few times on social media these past few days that’s a call-back to that gaffe: If you’re a black man who had trouble figuring out whether to vote for Biden or Trump, can you join Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s exclusive all-white beach club? Asking for a friend.
If there’s a man who’s going to heal vaccine hesitancy among minorities, in short, it was never going to be Joe Biden. That wasn’t the case in the 1970s, that wasn’t the case in the 1990s or 2000s (remember, I didn’t even bring up his 2006 quote, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking” into this whole mess) and it’s not the case now. Whatever the man may have had transplanted on, in or around his head over the past few decades, none of it involves the self-awareness of his own racism.
That’s why my hopes that Thursday will represent some kind of low point for Biden’s gaffery are a bit like my hopes I’ll hit it big on a lottery ticket. The odds are roughly even, in spite of — or perhaps because of — the fact I don’t play the lottery.
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