First, it was former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris who flipped in her opposition to Joe Biden, despite her hinting at his racist past for opposing forced busing. Now, it’s former candidate Senator Cory Booker who has seen the light and is endorsing Joe Biden for president, despite his past friendship with segregationists.
Is it just a coincidence that both former candidates are now being mentioned prominently as potential vice presidential picks of Biden’s? Perhaps, yes, although Biden’s camp has apparently passed the word to Harris that she’s in the running for attorney general in a Biden administration.
Harris’s endorsement raised some eyebrows, especially after her “I don’t believe you’re a racist” (but you are)” statement during the Democratic debate last June.
“I do not believe you are a racist. And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground, but I also believe — and it is personal, and it was actually very hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputation and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that, on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.”
There is no love lost between Harris, who ended her campaign in December after a promising start, and Biden, whose suspect racial credentials haven’t hurt him one bit in the campaign. So why did she endorse the former vice president?
Harris did not endorse Biden because she believes in him, which is what she’s now saying. Indeed, she made her thoughts about Biden’s candidacy very clear throughout her presidential campaign, and few of them were positive. When given the chance, she all but accused him of racism in the first debate. Funny, since Biden had more credibility with black voters than she ever did.
The only reason Harris is endorsing Biden is that the former vice president offers her the best chances at future political success. Harris can frame it however she likes, but it’s clear this was a self-serving and insincere decision. But then again, that’s just politics.
Booker was also tough on Biden during the campaign, laying into him after Biden mentioned his “working relationship” with two notorious segregationist senators, James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. Biden said that Eastland never called him “boy” — supposedly a joke, but Booker wasn’t laughing.
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,’ ” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of three black Democratic candidates for president, said in a statement Wednesday. “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone. I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together.”
Booker also said that he was disappointed Biden had not offered an immediate apology.
If anything, Booker’s endorsement of Biden is more cynical than Harris’s.
“And, while I’m no longer running for president, I still know that to win, Democrats need a nominee who understands that the way to beat Donald Trump is to bring people together,” Booker said. “In this moral moment, our country needs a president who recognizes that the lines that divide us are nowhere near as strong as the ties that bind us … Joe is building the kind of campaign we need to win — a campaign based on shared values, built by the kinds of multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalitions that have always been at the backbone of every movement for progress in our history.”
I guess we’re supposed to forget Biden’s lack of “inclusiveness” and take Booker at his word. In Booker’s case. he really is at the top of the shortlist for veep candidates, so a certain amount of groveling is to be expected. But Booker and Harris both made a big deal out of their race during their campaigns.
I guess race doesn’t matter as much now that the candidates are angling for higher office.