Politics

Obama backs Biden on “chains” comment

Obama backs Biden on “chains” comment

One day after Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, insisted the President “probably agrees with Joe Biden’s sentiments” and has “no problem” with Biden using a clumsy impersonation of black dialect to warn a largely black audience in Virginia that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains,” Obama himself – obviously sensing the rising political temperature around Biden’s offensive remarks – popped up to apply a different spin.

Actually, it’s an old spin, employed with increasing frequency by Obama: he claimed we’ve all focused too much on Biden’s plain words, and the clear implications of his delivery, instead of opening our minds to the wonderful hidden “context” underlying the remark.  It’s hilarious to listen to Obama pretend that a person of Biden’s limited mental capacity is some kind of subtle genius, who the rest of us lack the intellectual refinement to understand.  It’s also odd to hear Obama use this defense for himself, as he does quite often these days.  He’s supposedly one of the greatest orators who ever lived, but his defenders now routinely assert that he’s incapable of speaking plain English without a squad of interpreters to diagram his sentences and tell us all what he really means.

In an interview with People magazine (you didn’t think Obama was going to expose himself to real reporters, did you?) the President claimed Biden was merely using a metaphor to explain that consumers would be worse off if Republicans manage to repeal financial legislation, such as the Dodd-Frank laws.  “In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that.”  He described attention paid to the actual words coming out of Joe Biden’s mouth as a “distraction.”

For the benefit of anyone tempted to fall for this absurd spin, here’s video Joe Biden delivering that “put y’all back in chains” remark.  Note the use of the words “y’all” and “back.”

Keep in mind that during the same speech, Biden forgot what state he was in, exhorting the voters of Virginia to help Democrats win North Carolina.  The next day, in another speech in Virginia, he forgot what century he was in, exclaiming “Folks, where’s it written we cannot lead the world in the Twentieth Century in making automobiles?”  But when he puts on a minstrel act and drawls about the desire of his opponents to bring back slavery, he’s employing a delicate metaphor about banks, which Barack Obama apparently believes had the power to force their customers to do business with them, prior to Dodd-Frank.

Among those who insist upon holding Joe Biden accountable for what he says is former Democrat congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, who has declared himself disillusioned with Obama and the Democrat Party, and will now speak at the Republican convention in 2012.  This is all the more remarkable because Davis was the man who officially seconded Obama’s nomination for president at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.  If the guy who seconded McCain’s nomination in 2008 was now stumping for Obama, he’d be the most famous man in America.  He’d have to attend media interviews wearing a plastic sheet, like a front-row audience member at a Gallagher comedy performance, to keep the reporters’ drool off his suit.

But Davis doesn’t appear to have any illusions about the media treatment he can expect after turning to the Republican Party, and he’s not accepting any illusions about Joe Biden, either.  He described Biden’s remarks as “a divisive tactic that’s insulting to African Americans” and the American people in general.

“I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday – and every black person in that room knew who the ‘y’all’ was, knew what the chains were about, knew what the ‘metaphor’ was,” Davis said during a CNN interview.  “It was wrong, and the president ought to be embarrassed by it, and the president ought to say it was wrong.”

Well, okay, it looks like Artur Davis retains at least one illusion – that Barack Obama has a sense of shame.  Obama will be speaking out against Biden’s race-baiting right about the same time he denounces his Super PAC for smearing Mitt Romney as a murderer.  His deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, is a documented liar on that earlier affair, but she was telling the truth when she said Obama has “no problem” with whatever divisive garbage must be shoveled out to secure his re-election.

In Philadelphia, a new group called Republicans of Color stepped up to respond to Biden’s ugly racialist tactics.  The group’s chairman, Lew Harris Jr., said he wanted Biden to know “we will not be restrained by your weak attempt to prevent us as a people to step out of the hollow stance of a single party here in Philadelphia particularly.  We are upgrading our level of political intelligence to no longer follow a one-party platform, but rather to inform both political parties, as Americans should do.”  As he said this, he ceremonially broke paper chains representing slavery, liberal policies dating back to the civil rights era, and Joe Biden’s rhetoric, respectively.

“It was the way he said it – he said it in a Southern drawl because he was in Virginia, and he referenced it as ‘you all.’ And in the black community that’s something that we identify with,” added Eric Quick, communications director for Republicans of Color. “The whole thing with slavery and the chains, that’s inappropriate.”

It’s certainly true that “chains” are used as a political metaphor with some frequency.  Another member of Republicans of Color, retired Army sergeant and political candidate Robert Allen Mansfield, did precisely that (albeit specifically in response to Biden) when he asked, “How about, Mr. Vice President, that we unchain businesses with onerous regulations?  How about unchaining us, Mr. Vice President, by restoring the $715 billion in cuts from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act?”

But it’s simply absurd, and an insult to the intelligence of American voters of every racial background, to pretend Joe Biden’s purpose on that stage in Virginia wasn’t entirely clear.  It’s the same insult to our intelligence Obama and his defenders render by claiming we didn’t understand what he meant by “you didn’t build that” or “the private sector is doing fine.”  It transcends political spin, and enters the realm of hypnosis.  It might have worked back when three biased networks provided all of our news, and people weren’t a few mouse clicks away from audio and video records of disastrous political speeches.  Not only will American voters stubbornly insist on remembering the past three years of Obama’s dismal record, they’ll refuse to forget what he and his Vice President said last month, last week, or yesterday.

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