The Democratic debate on Tuesday is shaping up to be a barnburner. Bernie Sanders, the poll leader in Iowa, is looking to knock Joe Biden down a peg or two by reminding ultra-left Democratic caucus-goers of some of Biden’s less than totally liberal votes.
To that end, Sanders and his surrogates assaulted Joe Biden for being a closet conservative — or, at least, not quite as liberal as he claims to be.
Sanders’ national co-chair, Nina Turner, penned an op-ed in a South Carolina newspaper that sought to portray Biden as a supporter of segregationist Senators.
The former Ohio state senator contrasted Biden and Sanders throughout her piece, saying that Biden started his career with personal letters to pro-segregation senators to support legislation preventing black students from attending schools with white students. She wrote that Sanders instead began his career protesting in desegregation movements.
Turner also condemned Biden for his treatment of Anita Hill when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
She criticized the vice president’s earlier ideas surrounding welfare reform, crime reform and economics as a Delaware senator, saying that Sanders was on the right side of history by disapproving of Biden’s approaches.
It’s no secret Biden opposed forced busing — as did the majority of Americans at the time, including blacks. And poor Joe will never live down his questioning of Ms. Hill whose testimony was contradicted by several other female clerks employed by Clarence Thomas.
But this particular food fight won’t matter much in Iowa, there being a lot fewer black voters in the Hawkeye State than in South Carolina. What will matter is the war and peace and the progressive need for constant apologizing from those who voted for the Iraq War.
Sanders’ speechwriter, David Sirota, lambasted Biden in a series of tweets, telling supporters that he “isn’t getting away with rewriting history about how he helped lead America into the Iraq War.”
Sanders’ senior campaign adviser Jeff Weaver later released a statement saying Biden “made explicitly clear that he was voting for war.”
“It is appalling that after 18 years Joe Biden still refuses to admit he was dead wrong on the Iraq War, the worst foreign policy blunder in modern American history,” Weaver said.
Biden has struggled to explain his vote for the Iraq war, which has become a key issue in the Democratic primary heightened by recent conflict in the Gulf.
Selective memory is a wonderful thing, especially in politics. Biden has chosen to recall his rationale for the vote saying in the second debate that he was “trusting the president saying he was only doing this to get inspectors in and get the U.N. to agree to put inspectors in.” Everyone knew that it was a vote for war, for conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. We didn’t have a half-million troops in the Kuwaiti desert waiting for UN inspectors.
It’s ancient history, anyway. Joe Biden has remade himself into a far-left progressive after spending decades as just another run-of-the-mill liberal lawmaker. It’s not his ideology that Democrats are voting for. It’s the perceived notion that he’s the only Democrat who can beat Donald Trump.
In that sense, where he stands on the issues doesn’t matter very much.