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Biden is showing his age

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Comments by U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) (64) illustrate why the 2008 election will probably turn out to be a fight between Old-School politics vs. New- School politics--with New-School politicians coming out on top.

In sizing up U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, what did Biden mean when he told the New York Observer: "[Y]ou got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy?"

Besides exposing his ignorance, Biden's remarks were typical of what some whites think about successful blacks. These high-powered African-Americans aren't like their heathen brothers--and in Oprah's case--heathen sisters.

Most successful African-Americans have experienced the moment when a well-meaning white person told them something like:""You're not like other black people" or "You're different from other blacks."
More than likely, they formed their opinions based on the images of African-Americans they have seen in the media.

But Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, the same year the late Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to run for president. He was in the Senate for both of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's campaigns, and when Carol Moseley Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton used a presidential campaign as a platform to debate critical issues affecting African Americans.

There's no excuse for this kind of ignorance.

Biden's blunder shows just how out-of-touch he really is.

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When I heard Sen. Biden's remarks I was flabbergated, insulted and frankly, hurt. Articulate, clean, nice looking? Sen. Biden's statement said to me that he saw Barack Obama as somehow better, different, separate from those of us whose ancestry were ignorant, shiftless, lazy, unclean. Descendants of slaves who'll never quite measure up. I don't identify with Barack Obama because he is an African-American and I'm not. I prefer "Black-American" since I'm included with most Blacks in America who lost our connection to Africa and can't go back and look up relatives from the homeland. I admire Mr. Obama and would vote for him for president in a heartbeat. What Biden did was show the glaring difference that many of his ilk see. He's not one of us.

Mary, thank you.....Because I've said before there are different rules whether you are democrat or republican. You put aside those different rules and/or as I call it, the DOUBLE STANDARD.

I remember bringing up the fact that Robert Byrd has used the N-word often and the Black Community and especially the Black Leadership, the Congresional Black Caucas, and liberal media stayed absolutely quiet. Yet, we all know how they went after a mediocre comedian, the guy who plays that 'Kramer', or whatever. Byrd, you see, is a ranking democrat. So NO criticism. And we know President Clinton was called the 'first black president' despite the most pathetic record on Africa of any president, ever. I wonder if the ghosts of the victims of Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and children of Sierra Leone, see him as the 'first black president'. However, he did save the white folks in Bosnia.

Even as far as Biden is concerned, this will all pass and there won't be any really hard criticism. Had this been a republican, independent, or lets say a radio talkshow host, we would never had heard the end of it. Right Mike?

Your assessment is a bit off...

One could argue that Chisholm was actually mainstream. She was 30 years ahead of her time actually.

I'm guessing Biden is referring to recent (last 20 years) history. I knew people would jump all over this but of course it's easier to ignore his "mainstream" qualifier and focusing more on his "clean" adjective.

The reality is that he's right. Braun, Jackson and Sharpton were not mainstream politicians. Braun was never a serious candidate. If you focus on Sharpton and Jackson, which I'm assuming he was, they have as many or more skeletons in their closet than white candidates - they are not "clean". If Jackson were white, his "hymie-town" comment would be the equivalent of a white calling New Orleans "N-town". Sharpton's history is too checkered and lengthy to comment here...he suddenly has done a complete makeover by his appearances on HardBall and now he somehow gets to pass judgement on others (which he was doing ad-nauseum last night on the talk shows) - come on al...he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. Too funny

It's interesting to see the weeping and gnashing of teeth over some incidental and irrelevant comment by someone that has through his political life sought an equal playing field for ALL citizens of this country.

More than interesting, it's funny(ironic, no FUNNY ha-ha)to witness the overreaction of a group of thin-skins ready to tar and feather this politico because he is the wrong color to make that "statement"(which, by the way, is actually not totally without merit).

Rather than saying to an ally, "Hey, I know what your trying to say or I know what you mean, just remember all of us have to go through a learning process including you and we are willing to point out an inconsistency or three with what you said, so here's the deal..." HELL NO, that would be TOO much to bear, it would indeed reveal the weakness of compassion; better to crucify the man and moan and cry over the stupid remark than shake an allies hand and learn and teach in a correct and positive manner.

Positive manner, that's what I never see with thin-skinned people anyway(don't worry, they are in all types of people,all colors, all races)

So, excuse me while I get amused at the next faux pas one of your white allies will make(and it will happen)and evolve from a smile to a complete belly-laugh. For all of his work he has done to give all an equal playing field, he has become no more than a masochist to a sadistic vengence-minded group of ingrates.

Thanks as always for your column, Mary, as they inspire so many of us to think.

"He was in the Senate for both of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's campaigns, and when Carol Moseley Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton used a presidential campaign as a platform to debate critical issues affecting African Americans."

Neither of which were presidential material...bad example.

But yes, Biden is an idiot and out of touch like many democrats.

Mitchell comment:

But Bush was presidential material?

Bush...Dirty (FILTHY)
Obama...Clean (inviolate and uncorrupted)

Bush...monosylabic, halting and language deficient, sounds like an undergrad burnout
Obama...Beautiful oratory skills, sounds like a Harvard educated guy with supreme intelligence

Bush...stupidity is NOT good looking.
Obama...looks good even running in the surf.

I believe we have a winner...

...and GO BEARS!

this is just a bunch of nonsense, and a distraction from real issues.

I'd like to hear some discussion about Mary's column yesterday (Feb 1), where she rightly pointed out that Todd Stroger's across-the-board budget cut mandate will fall heavily on the backs of the poor in Cook County.

What I'd like to know is, why is she not pointing the finger at those same poor people who voted him into office? This is a democracy, and in a democracy, it is the PEOPLE ultimately responsible for the actions of elected officials.

I could take this sentence:

"There's no excuse for this kind of ignorance.

Biden's blunder shows just how out-of-touch he really is. "

And substitute "the poor people of Cook County" and it would be SPOT ON THE MONEY.

Wake up poor people - snake oil salesmen come in all races and colors!

Hi Mary,

I am a regular reader of you column and I have posted once.

I am confused, though. Biden said:

"[Y]ou got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy?"

So, are we equivilating this comment with the "N-word" and with "You're not like other black people" and "You're different from other blacks."

If you and other posters here are equivilating the comments as the same, then I am confused.

Where is the line?

I would think that instead of pointing out at how "ignorant Biden is", why don't you tell us where the "line" is between complimenting someone and possibly offending people.

Am I being too naive to say that the comments Biden said are NOTHING compared to calling someone the "N-word"?

Remember, calling someone the "N-word" has zero gray area for it being mistaken as a is NOT a compliment, not even close.

While I agree with you that the comment Biden said could be could ALSO be seen as a compliment.

What do you think?

Mitchell comment:

I explained my take on the Biden comments in my column, and I didn't get through to you. There's no point in arguing with you about why describing U.S. Senator Barack Obama as "articulate" is ignorant in the context of Biden's conversation. Of course Obama is articulate? Why wouldn't he be?

Ms. Mitchell, though I did not see the telecast, I read Joe Biden words from other columns, your column, watch the clips from, and I just don't see the racist attack that people are speaking about.

Barack Obama, is a clean cut articule guy, he is Harvard Educated, and was the president of the Harvard Law Review Board in 1990 and graduated magna cum lude in 1991. Come on, Mr Obama is what he is! Does clean cut mean ALL AMERICAN? (or code speak for Euro-centic) then he partially is this. He has transcended racial lines the same as Micheal Jordan, but on a political arena. Oprah has done it but from the media aspect of Americana.

Ms Mitchell, I don't like to go against you, but you are the one stating the "Heathen" perspective. I understand the Afro-centric idealogy behind this, and showing the Ethno-Privilege attitude of a Joe Biden, but really don't think his words was meant to be harmful.

Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton are/were pro-black, there is nothing wrong with that, but they are not mainstream Ms Mitchell. Carol Mosely Braun would have been considered mainstream. She might still be in office if not for the negativity surrounding her time in office.

Matter of fact Jesse Jackson is not pro-black, he is pro-high-profile cause of the moment. He is what he is.

This is not a swipe at him to let Joesph Biden off, because I don't think neither has my best interest at hand. Please don't tell me Mr. Jackson does because of ethnic background. If that was the case you wouldn't be writing earlier columns about Black people and their leeriness of Mr. Barack Obama.

Are Black people falling for the light-complexion versus the dark-complexion complex again? That is a personal question to each of us, plus collectively as a ethnic group.

I read this somewhere and the person wanted to know have Black Men become White-Oriented? This could be Clarence Thomas, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama or Micheal Jordan. Is this a legitmate question I guess that I am asking of us?

God Bless, keep up the fight sista, I know it is hard when many attack you and so few defend you....*smile*

I think your comments do a complete 180 and prove Biden right...

You state that these black candiates had a "platform to debate critical issues affecting African Americans." That does not make them mainstram. Mainstream is a candidate who takes on issues affecting all classes and races of people.
When he says Obama is "clean", I think he meant that he didn't have the baggage of people like Sharpton (Tawana Braley) and Jackson (pick 1 of many).

Whle I will agree that what he said was offensive, I think that we have to keep in mind that the loudest voices are frequently the only ones that are heard. Look at a few of the most prominent blacks in the media today. You can't tell me that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Bill Cosby are articulate black people. Jesse Jackson is so inarticulate that there is a radio station bit called "What Did Jesse Jackson Say". I mean, come on. When you have people like Jackson, Sharpton, and Bill Cosby as the face of black America, are you really surprised when people think that blacks aren't articulate? Personally, I think that Senator Biden's comments will be good for blacks. There will be talks about this and the public's attention will be drawn away from the mumbling talking heads.

to Cheryl Bailey: It won't be easy but it actually is possible that you can look up your roots. Those european and arab thugs who sold black people as slaves did keep a paper trail, as they say. As did most slave buyers. And also, to begin with, you know your ancesters where from WEST Africa. Most likely Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bisseu, and other nations of that region. Thats a start. And there are geneology specialists who will, on your behalf, do a good job in trying to trace your family tree. Good luck.

Yes. Joe Biden is an idiot, but not because of this comment..."[Y]ou got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy?"

Its not like he called him the n-word or was derogatory in any way against the media's darling...Obama.

This politically correct sensitivity has gotten way out of control. Perhaps Joe Biden should make a contribution to Obama's campaign as a form of reparation for slavery.

Its gotten so bad that anyone in the public eye cannot bat an eye lash without being accused of being racist and "old school". Perhaps if this country was more "old school" we wouldn't be led to a moral slaughter the way the lib-dems are leading our country.

Why don't people attack true racist institutions like Planned Parenthood which was based on eugenics. How about it? Doesn't it bother anyone that close to two-thirds of abortions performed by Planned Parenthhood are on black teenage women and their babies?

I know that abortion isn't the issue here, but it should remind us that if we truly are interested in destroying racism in our country, we should focus on the real enemies contributing to what amounts to a black genocide.

Biden is a wrinkly old turkey and whatever he says is equivalent to flatulence in the wind.

Will concede that politicians need to stay abreast of the latest linguistic sensibilities; not because they make sense but because being a politicians demands an especially high degree of sensitivity.

Biden as a person however didn't say anything wrong. Replace the appropriate words of his comment with "Iowan" or some such thing and you have a comment as innocent and well-meaning as the one he actually spoke.

In my lifetime, proper terminology has drifted from Negro to Black to African-American. If I refer to an African-American as a Negro am I exhibiting racist tones? If one thinks so, that person is trying hard to find fault and not seeing reality. That person's just looking for trouble and finding it when it's probably not there. That's a good definition of intolerance and it's not what we need.

I'm not in the Biden camp, I like Obama even though I suspect that come November 2008 I'll be voting for Hillary Clinton; but Biden wasn't being a racist, he wasn't practicing a double standard. He's just wasn't being a very good politician.

In regards to the following:

"He was in the Senate for both of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's campaigns, and when Carol Moseley Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton used a presidential campaign as a platform to debate critical issues affecting African Americans."

Yes, Braun and Sharpton raised issues affecting African Americans, but they certainly did not have the mass mainstream appeal that Obama does. Why? Because he looks beyond the problem of race and is thus a much more multi-dimensional candidate than Sharpton or Jackson ever were. That, I believe, is what Mr. Biden was trying to say in his comment, however inarticulately he may have done so. It is quite uncharitable of this columnist not to acknowledge that in her piece.

But there is also a larger issue here that this columnist fails to address: the fact that race is a diminishing problem in American society, while class is a rapidly growing one. The old-school politics focused on the former, while the new-school politics focuses on the new. That is they key difference between Sharpton/Jackson and Obama.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Well, joe biden has been a supporter of african-american issues and the civil rights movement for a long time, that may be why he did not get the strident response to his comments about Obama that he would get if he was a conservative republican. He has earned a tepid response. He made a stupid statement and that is all it is. The typical republican consevative who question why they would receive diffrent treatment under the same circumstances though to this day they still engage in race-baiting and semi-racist rhethoric. Well, it should be evident that they have not not earned what joe biden has.......

I don't see color. Are you sure Joe Biden is black?

I don't quite understand why Biden would get in trouble for saying something obvious. Obama is such a breath of fresh air because he's so completely different from all the "old school" African American politicans we have seen in the past. The ones who play the blame/pay us racist game and are often woefully uneducated (aka previous "community organizers")

After hearing the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton nationally and local loons like Dorothy Tillman, the difference between Obama and them couldn't be any more stark nor any more obvious.

So Biden is being blamed for telling the truth?

I believe Obama has a made a statement to the effect of being proud of his roots and conscious of them, but not bound by the politics of them (I don't recall the exact quote but I think most understand what he is saying, even with my poor paraphrasing)

It's also no small wonder he's accused by certain segments of the African American community as not being "black enough".

Which pretty much makes me puke. If you want your Tillmans running your own wards, that is fine by me, but such a candidate will never ever ever get elected nationally. The sooner the "community" realizes that, the better.

The thing that everyone was missing from the commentary about Biden's quote was that he was referring to Obama as a mainstream candidate. For all their bluster, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun were not mainstream (read as: capable of actually winning the office) candidates. Barack is.

And I suspect, not being Joe Biden myself, I cannot know, that clean should have referred to his tabula rasa status among the Democratic field. Barack can be anyone the party needs him to be, he has almost no previous record to reverse.

All that being said, Biden has the darnedest case of foot-in-mouth disease that any articulate modern politico has ever demonstrated and that is a real shame.

Most of the media coverage of the comments has been very dismissive and focused on how it might affect Biden's presidential campaign, which means that he'll be hiring some Black people and appearing in Detroit at some point. Should he be skewered? Probably not. But what does it take to start a dialogue about race in this country without white people escwewing the "race-card?"

Yes, well, we have to admit, it is true. After all, Jesse Jackson is obselete, too angry, and his viewpoints are obtuse and vague, - and anti-jew- so he cant be president...and Al sharpton,...well, who really wants a president named "Rev. Al"? Sharpton is like a caricature of himself, at best, and at worst, he's a character from fat albert or something... rather animated and entertaining. But, I do like him.. He was great on Saturday night live. I really like his workout/lesiure suits and big blingy necklaces.

Maybe blacks are offended by Obama because he isnt ghetto/ hip-hop/ and angry.

Come on...use some common sense. Let's disect each word which is routine on these blogs:

Y]ou got the first mainstream African-American - assume he meant politician. Can you argue this point? Chisholm had a fairly diverse following but Jackson, Sharpton, Braun?? You can't possibly consider them mainstream.

who is articulate - I agree

and bright - agree

and clean - here's where it gets gray. I took this comment as a clean background. If you think he meant clean as in hygiene, then you already think Biden is a raving lunatic/racist.

and a nice-looking guy? - I don't normally comment on dudes but sure, he's a good looking guy.

Again, the "clean" comment is a head-scratcher but whatever...everthing else he said is spot on.

Dear Mary.

I don't often agree with you but on this one I do. I agree with you on former president Clinton he did absolutely nothing for Black Amercians at all and our so called black leaders did not say a word including the country preacher Rev. Jesse Jackson nor Al Shapton I guess they only speak when it serves them. Thanks for your article.


Ronald Benjamin

Not to confuse the issue, but I listen to Jay Marvin every morning(AM760, Boulder 7am-11am), compliments of the internet and he played some of Rush Limbaugh, who seemed to bask in insulting Barack Obama. The diatribe he tried to pass as humor was indeed insulting.

I wonder if(and no, I do not want to always harp on Reverend Jackson)some of the prominent Civil rights leaders can PLEASE point out the ill will that is being put out there. There IS a qualitative difference between what Biden said and Limbaughs' slams. If no one has the "testicular fortitude", to borrow a phrase, to call Rush on this, then I can only assume that good money has been invested into pockets to earn their silence. And that's the name of that tune.

I personally don't believe Biden's remarks are unique only to "Old-School politicans". There are a lot of twenty and thirty years olds who have the same opinion about middle class African-Americans. I have had people at school comment on how I don't "look black" or "act black." One woamn told me that if she could be "another race" she would want to be black because black women "have more fun." And this woman was in law school with aspirations of becoming a prosecutor!!!

Sad, sad untended blog. Obama is articulate, have you heard Dorothy Tillman or Emil Jones talk? Neither Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton would be called articulate, but then neither would George W Bush.

Joe Biden is a real hellraiser!

This is a typical statement that I have heard before. "You're one of the good ones" he says. Just look at fox news. The first story is "Obama makes a speech to well-heeled crowd" and then afterward you see 50 reports of black criminals raping and killing white women. I won't pay his statements any mind.

The big difference with Obama is that, unlike joke candidate Al Sharpton, he actually has a chance of being considered as a POSSIBLE candidate for the Democratic party.

R David, whites will have a dialogue about race when you blacks stop accusing us of being racists every time we disagree with you on a topic.

to everybody: All of your comments are what I knew they'd be. Most of you made excuses for Biden. I knew this would happen. That good ol' Joe meant by CLEAN "he is the one black politician running for president' who didn't have a gimmick, didn't have a scandalous past, and/or ran across the board, and not just for the Black Community like a Jackson or Sharpton. That unlike them his diction and use of the english language is extraordinary." I think thats what you folks were trying to get at. Right? Sorry, not good enough and I'll tell you why. Besides it being an insult you would NOT make such an excuse for a republican, independent, libertarian, reform, green, or any other party's member. You are all searching for excuses for Biden. Besides, look at Biden's past. He was caught red-handed PLAGERIZING in the late 80's when he was considering a presidential run. He actually for his biography copied a British Labor candidate's life bio almost word for word. You all didn't know that, did you? And as far as being articulate, bright, and clean (using your term as being not scandalous) you all must have cases of memory lapse. Saying no African-American politician has ever possessed it. Because it wasn't that long ago OUR city had an African-American mayor whose use of the english language, diction, and vocabulary, was amongst the most wonderful of any public figure ever. His name was Harold Washington. Mary, am I right?

to RC: You had a very good post. And you are so right. Todd Stroger has his job ONLY because of who his father is and yes, because of his race. And you are so right, its going to be mainly the people who voted for him who will be 'shafted' in the end. And if there are no cuts, it'll mean taxes were raised to a point which I believe will cause many folks to move out of the county. And all because of corruption, waste, and business as usual. "Be careful what you wish for."

Biden's remarks may have been crude and outdated stereotyping, but just where does one go these days to find public figures who are honest, direct and insightful? Either we have polished, politically-correct liars (not mutually exclusive terms) or we have someone exposing herself or himself as not having mastered the art of speaking in politically correct, disingenuous double-talk. Biden simply needs some pointers on how to lie better. I suspect he won’t have a problem finding a good tutor.

However, it was acceptable when an African American student was quoted in the Sun-Times for saying I like Ron Zook he isn't one of those uptight white guys.

"anonymous" is a true coward.

Let me start by saying that I have been a fan of Joe Biden's for a long time, and while he may not be aware of his bias, his latest comments regarding Senator Obama are revealing. Biden sees Obama as a Black candidate first, and his comments reinforce that image. The fact the he did not intend to offend carries much weight, but like all slips of the tongue, his intent does not obscure what his comments reveal.

While many white americans speak like the guys drinking beer along the fence on the comedy show" King of the Hill", I have never heard a white american feel the need to describe another as articulate. Before you read on, ask yourself why. This is a subliminal coded reference to remind whites not to be fooled, that while Obama on many levels may appear to trancend race and what we hear is not congruent with what we see, "don't forget, he is black".

When otherwise good folks' subliminally racist tendencies are revealed they often become embarrased, defensive, and go into denial. We have all heard of back handed compliments and this is one if I ever heard it. "[Y]ou got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy".

One reason many readers either won't acknowledge the ugly truth behind these untrue statements or don't get it is because these back handed compliments reveal many well meaning white americans true feelings. They immediately go on the defensive because they say , "Give me a break, I am not your enemy, I am one of the good ones".

Some readers chose to interpret the "clean" remark, so now it is my turn. When Biden said clean, I interpret that to mean, at it's core, Obama is a black person that I am not afraid of because he does not remind me of those scary, repulsive, ignorant n's that I see on the El and have done everything in my power to avoid."

Well once again the Black community has thier feelings hurt over a trivial comment by a White politician. Don't worry, he's a democrat so all will be fine.
I believe the black community won't rest until the only thing from whites are "Yes'a boss, I be dare"

Hi Mary,

Thanks for responding to my post.

I am sorry if you take what I posted as an "argument". I thought it would lean more towards "discussing".

I understand your take...and I read your post. I like reading your stuff, Mary. I'm a friend here.


I think Alan nailed it with this:


The thing that everyone was missing from the commentary about Biden's quote was that he was referring to Obama as a mainstream candidate. For all their bluster, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun were not mainstream (read as: capable of actually winning the office) candidates. Barack is.

And I suspect, not being Joe Biden myself, I cannot know, that clean should have referred to his tabula rasa status among the Democratic field. Barack can be anyone the party needs him to be, he has almost no previous record to reverse.

All that being said, Biden has the darnedest case of foot-in-mouth disease that any articulate modern politico has ever demonstrated and that is a real shame."

Biden obviously did not mean to insult or attack Obama, he's just a really, really, poor public speaker at times.

btw, Obama's first book is fantastic, if you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and give it a try.

Joe Biden is a good guy who supports liberal causes. He is not a racist. He said something careless. Some black people speak in a vernacular/slang that is considered unacceptable for good public speaking. Everyone knows this. Obama, Oprah, and many others often use their vernacular when in settings with black folks, but professionally, they do not speak this way. When Biden said "articulate" I think this is what he meant. Other black candidates have been quite eloquent in their viewpoints, but when it comes to delivery, they have a little or a lot of black vernacular that does not come across as "articulate." None of this needs to have anything to do with race. We speak the English language, and we have a formal way of speaking it. If a person does not adhere to that standard for whatever reason, they will not be viewed as articulate as someone who does. The British have a similar issue with people who speak "cockney."

In listening to the actual audio of what Biden said, it's clear that he paused between "mainstream candidate" and "who is articulate...." as if they were two different sentences. Taken in that context, which is what I believe he meant, who could argue that a) Obama is the first real serious, potentially winning black presidential candidate and b) that he does have the list of good qualities Biden mentioned including being articulate. I do not think he meant to infer that any other blacks were not the positive things he mentioned in Obama but rather meant to praise Barack for having these qualities which he does possess. I have been a big fan of Obama's and was disappointed in his defensive response about articulateness in Jesse Jackson and the others (Jesse Jackson is obviously very articulate and I'm a fan of his as well).

Writing the sentence out could imply one thing when it's written with no spaces but knowing Biden and that he is in no way racist and in listening to the transcript, it's obvious to me that he was simply saying good things about Barack Obama. Ironically, in his response Obama lost some of my respect for him. I'd dearly love to get that back! Maybe Obama misunderstood as well and just read a transcript. It was too remindful of the way the Republicans jumped on John Kerry's joke, which was aimed at President Bush but Kerry delivered with some of the words missing. The mass reaction was so different than what the person meant...that's what the two episodes have in common in my point of view.

Dear Justin,

Your message about slave traders keeping records is flawed. The slave catchers (africans) didn't keep paper records, they just traded their fellow africans for gold.

Oh, and the word is "ancestors".

Joe Biden made a comment that was actually complimentary to Obama, he did not insult him or demean us. Blacks in some quarters, for entirely self-serving purposes chose to try to make this into a race issue. This is as stupid as the ruckus over the use of the word 'niggardly' some years ago by David Howard in Washington DC, that cost him his job. Ignorance should not be the yardstick for political discourse.

Obama is a threat to Joe Biden's campaign precisely because he is who he is and is as Biden described him. He will of course loose heavily if his supporters make every comment or disagreement into a race issue. We said we want to be considered on our merits, so lets compete in a mens game, like men, not like sniveling infants. And that last phrase was neither sexist or ageist for the politically correct.

To those who think everything Biden said was fine, and agree with him-
What if Biden was a Republican?
You would be foaming at the mouth waiting for him to step down through you'r calls of racism.
Don't say you wouldn't either, the examples are endless.

the word 'clean' was definitely the most offensive portion of his statement. I believe he meant clean as in 'not dirty', but even if he meant clean as in criminal record clean, it is a pretty bizarre way to describe someone of Barack Obama's stature, unless of course you are a racist.

What is sad, is that I think he actually was trying to be nice, and his racism is so ingrained, that he really did not realize that he was saying something inappropriate and degrading.

I don't like Joe Biden. He's a braying donkey, all teeth and sound bites and no substance. But I also think Obama is a jerk.And Jesse Hymie-town and Al Big Mouth are two more jerks. Shakedown artists. Con men. Scammers. Can I say that a black man is a jerk without vicious personal attacks and being called racist? Is that allowable in your PC World? Oh , the hypocrisy of lefties! I also want to note that it was PONTIAC, not ooprah, (lol) who gave away those G-6's to the audience..You lamestream lefty liberal media types are constantly coloring our culture with your spin, your misinformation, your half-truths, and whether you are black, white, Italian, Greek, Latino, or from the planet Ork, it doesnt matter as much as the club you belong to is universal..the mainstream lefty liberal club, and I dont like what you people do to my culture, my tradition, my America. Can I say that? Will you be offended? Too bad, because we probably BOTH find each other offensive, dont we? And if we dont acquiesce toward the middle ground soon, Civil War II, here we come....

Don't know my url, sorry. I just thought the "clean" comment of biden might have meant that this was someone who'd kept his finances "clean" and above the media's "let's tear 'em apart" game. I could be wrong. Seems like the comment got an almost Mccarthyistic play, doesn't it? Something about the attack just seems kind of too easy. And it the comment does make me uncomfortable. But le't s stop a moment, and consider the source. He hasn't had a record of racism--quite the contrary. Did Mary call the guy up and ask him what he meant by each advjective? I do think that's important. Isn't the real issue the ungodly war and occupation?
Spoken as someone who just adores mary's column!

Mitchell comment:

I explained my take on the Biden comments in my column, and I didn't get through to you. There's no point in arguing with you about why describing U.S. Senator Barack Obama as "articulate" is ignorant in the context of Biden's conversation. Of course Obama is articulate? Why wouldn't he be?

In regards to the above comments, I believe you are way, way off. Aside from the grammatical mistake ("Of course Obama is articulate." not "Of course Obama is articulate?), the presumption seems to be that "we should presume Obama is articulate BECAUSE he is black" which is itself racist.

What you probably meant to say is that for Biden to suggest that Obama is the first articulate black politician is racist. The racism comes from suggesting he is 'different' from all the rest.

However, suppose we re-worded what you said by replacing "Obama" with "Bush": "Of course BUSH is articulate. Why wouldn't he be?"

Then you might realize that presumption of articulation is itself a problem. Each and every person is different, and being a presidential candidate or being black is no guarantee of being articulate.

I think it's much ado about nothing and we'll have more little sound bites and statements all through this campaign. That's why I'm turning a deaf ear to everybody and what they say until the summer of 2008.

perhaps the best way this could be summed up is that most people would agree that Mr. Obama is the very FIRST African American politician, at least that I have come across, who has the appeal, the education, the intelligence and the message to have legitimate shot at a national elective office, especially in the executive branch, rather than being elected from a black majority district, etc.

Colin Powell and Condi Rice are two others, but they aren't necessarily politicans, they were never elected to anything. Btw, isn't it CURIOUS how under Democratic administrations, no African American has come even remotely close to the responsibilities and power that have been wielded by Powell and especially Ms. Rice? (who may make a very formidable candidate herself one day, though she'll be tainted by Iraq)

There are many intelligent, articulate, etc etc African Americans out in real life, in the business world, but in political life, blacks have constantly been represented by old school quasi or openly racist blame them/pay me politicans and or extortionists (Jesse Jackson) which is one reason you've never seen any of them on the national stage.

Obama is not one of them. Besides the contributions of Powell and Rice, his emergence I believe turns a very very important page of history and progress in this country. I hope we only move forward from here.

I find it hilarious that a certain group of malcontents find insult in white people crediting individuals of a particular race with being intelligent and/or articulate, yet Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Dr.Julius Irving et al were described as great athletes and no one seemed to whimper about that. What's up with that?

For a group of "ipso nutsos" to take offense at having an individual(regardless of skin, religion or sex) being recognized as intelligent is not meant to offend the whole race, religion or sex, only the dumbbells who take offense to it are "insulted", and they will always lag behind those who not only don't take offense, but recognize that "dam right I'm smart, articulate, etc., and you dam well better know it."

I would NOT vote for Barack Obama if he weren't smart and articulate. Clean is a good word,too(boo-hoo). Those are three of reasons I AM voting for him(He is good-looking as well, but being a politically incorrect hetero-male, that is not one of my criteria).

That is all I have to say about this issue, I am through with it, as it were.

On to the next blog entry, Mary! Have a great day.

Ms. Mitchell, for once I have to agree with you. I found Biden's comments totally ignorant and offensive. When certain people use terminology like "Articulate black man." you have to ask "As opposed to what?" Statements like that suggest that black people who are ignorant, inarticulate, unintelligent and undesirable and the people who say it don't know how stupid they sound. That is why I consider myself an independent, I have no love for the Republican Party yet I have no respect for the Democratic Party.

I realize this is a bit off topic but what was Obama's wife implying about her comment on 60 Minutes:?

When asked by interviewer Steve Kroft whether she fears for her husband’s life as a black candidate, Michelle Obama said: “I don’t lose sleep over it because the realities are that . . . as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.”

If she meant that as a black man, statistics say he is most likely to be killed by another black man, then I understand. If it was something else, then I'm confused...

My take is that Biden is right. Obama is the first black candidate for president that is as articulate as he is and without any skeletons (clean) to this point. Not the first black politician who embodies theses qualities, but first black candidate for president. There's a difference. Are we really gonna say that Jesse is as smart and articulate as Obama? Not by a long shot. His speech is too labored and has too much of the southern preacher twang to it. And he, as we know now, is a womanizer. Point Obama. Sharpton? C'mon, I like him because he is willing to try to help when no one else will, but presidential material he is not and will never be.
Perhaps we hated hearing the truth from someone who wasn't supposed to know.

I posted my comments several days ago, yet they have failed to appear on this blog... Censorship? Glitch? What gives? Thanks...jay

Mitchell comment:

Sorry, we're working on getting to these posts a lot quicker. Thank you for your patience.

What does "held for approval by the blog owner" mean, anyway? Censorship?

"was Bush presidential material?"
Was Bill CLinton? is Hillary? Is Obama? No...

Mary - you take blatant racist bloggers to task when appropriate. Yet your column today (2/15) is no better where you call out black politicians for not supporting a candidate based on the color of his skin. How is this not blatant racism (a rhetorical question so no need to answer)...God forbid someone for backing a candidate who they think can support their positions and in their view, has a better chance of winning.

As a young African American myself, I believe that it is the media such as yourself that causes such acrimony towards the African American people by individuals across our great nation. Your spotlighting on these remarks, which may in fact be deemed harmless if glossed over furthers the racial division within this country. Ceratainly many members of my community are as, if not more, racially motivated and take an even greater enmity towards caucasians. I find that simply because politicians are in the spotlight, anything they say is overplayed which spreads a doctrine of hate. Let us realize that we need not give them additional media coverage, nor do we need to be so ignorant as to thinking that the same mentality does not occur within the African American community.

Emil, I agree with you about Hussein Obamna's wife's comment on 60 minutes. She needs to clarify who would be the shooter against her husband. Because her comment has a very racist tone to it.

It doesn't matter what or how Biden spoke, he's a Democrat so he'll get 90% of the black vote. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on February 1, 2007 9:24 AM.

Hard work helped, but agitation got blacks top coaching jobs was the previous entry in this blog.

Why are black lawmakers already jumping on Clinton bandwagon? is the next entry in this blog.

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