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Tilting at Windmills

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January 31, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ANOTHER SHORT CAMPAIGN FOR JOE BIDEN?....Jason Horowitz writes today about a conversation with Joe Biden, "discussing his rivals over a bowl of tomato soup in the corner of a diner in Delaware." Turns out he thinks Hillary is doomed and Edwards is a lightweight:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical -- albeit in a slightly more backhanded way -- about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."

But -- and the "but" was clearly inevitable -- he doubts whether American voters are going to elect "a one-term, a guy who has served for four years in the Senate," and added: "I don't recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan or a tactic."

I've never really had the animus toward Biden that a lot of people do, but jeebus. He's just a gaffe machine waiting for someone to flip the power switch on. Back to the Senate, Joe.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall suggests that Biden's comment was transcribed poorly. Audio here confirms that he's right. It goes like this:

Biden: I mean, you got the first, sorta, mainstream African-American.

Horowitz: Yeah.

Biden: Who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.

I still think this comment indicates that Biden has a problem with his mouth (not something likely to provoke much argument, even from Biden), but he really didn't say what the original transcription seems to suggest.

Kevin Drum 2:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (264)

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Comments

why is joe running? what makes him think he's a compelling candidate, other than his own ego? i don't have anything against the guy. i just don't believe he has a ghost of a chance of coming close to coming close to having a shot at the nomination.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 31, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Paging Neil Kinnock's speech writer. Would Neil Kinnock's speech writer please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Posted by: Mary on January 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think Biden gives the American Voter WAY too much credit (on his take on Obama).

Personally, I think Obama would be a fine President. I don't agree with a lot of his stances, but I'd much rather see him in there than Clinton, and probably Edwards, as well.

Is Obama a little light on experience? A little dark-horsey? Sure. But honestly, I think American Voters know more about him than they did about Bush in 1999.

If Bush could get "elected" - Obama sure as hell can. Additionally - there's a lot of anti-Republican disgust out there, and it's only getting worse, and I don't think it's going to decline any time soon. So Obama only has to defeat his fellow Democrats.

(I'd rather see Feingold make it. Or, actually, I'd rather see Pelosi in there by June.)

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 31, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'd excuse my 90-year-old grandmother for such a comment, because she's of an era where African-Americans were referred to as "colored people". Why get into it?

But for someone who built his entire political persona around the idea that he's bright, knowledgable and articulate, Sen. Joe Biden has proven to be astonishingly obtuse with regards to racial stereotypes. After all, this is the same guy who only recently had to explain what he meant when he said, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."

This latest snafu is not an isolated incident, and Biden gets no ""Get Out of Jail Free" card from me on this. If anything, I'm even more disgusted by the fact that he's a Democrat, because I expect this kind of stuff from Trent Lott or Jesse Helms, not a prominent mmber of my own party.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wow - I just read that people are jumping down Biden's throat on these comments.

I didn't see them as racist at all.

If you look at the past black Presidential candidates - Obama DOES possess certain qualities that none of the others have.

I do think Biden is wrong though. I think that Americans will find Obama quite acceptable as a candidate.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 31, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad he is on our team.
He's a good guy and a decent spokesmen when he gets on the pundit shows.
But jeese, who the heck is he trying to impress with this kind of trash talk? I mean it's as if he's auditioning for the republican VP slot. Ouf. Guess he didn't get the memo about attack politics not working so well in primary.

Posted by: Nemesis on January 31, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't there someone to sit down Biden and Dodd and explain to them that they aren't going to win the nomination. That they don't have a chance. That no one is excited about their candidacy? And in the case of Biden, that he needs to learn to keep his mouth shut already? Shouldn't someone have that job? Or, had they been spending all their time with John Kerry and only recently began to start to interventions for Biden and Dodd? Because, seriously guys, you are NOT getting the nomination. Stop spending other people's money already.

Posted by: BStu on January 31, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that Joe Biden would use the publicity surge he gets from announcing his candidacy to trash fellow Democrats.

Posted by: aj on January 31, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"what makes him think he's a compelling candidate"

Pretty much foreign policy, I believe. He thinks he's got the chops to be a "serious" foreign policy guy, while the others are lightweights. Personally, I just don't see it. He just doesn't have a base, and his track record on Iraq, the primary foreign policy question of the moment, is decidedly mixed.

Posted by: PaulB on January 31, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Extradite,

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."

You can't see the smallest bit of racism in that statement? He's pretty much saying Obama is the only African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking.

So, for example, what does Joe Biden have against Tiger Woods? Is Tiger tongue-tied or stupid or dirty or ugly or all four?

Posted by: Tripp on January 31, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Some of these guys know they have zero chance of becoming president, and they throw their hats in the ring for other reasons. Others suffer from severe bubble disease, and actually believe they're elder statesmen with presidential entitlement even though their track records are abysmal. Hard to know which one Biden is.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Biden: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Who were the mainstream African American candidates who weren't those things?

In any event, it would be hoot to have a sitting president who calls the Imus Show regularly.

Posted by: zenger on January 31, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Okay - I'll take another stab at this, because I was unnecessarily vague.

Past Black Presidential Candidates (that I'm aware of).

Jesse Jackson.
Al Sharpton.
Carol Mosely Braun.

Jackson and Sharpton, love them or hate them, have based their careers on fiery rhetoric and race-baiting. I don't think either Sharpton or Jackson fit into the realm of the description "...articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy...". Okay, Jackson was fairly cute when he was about 20 years younger. And you can't say that Jackson isn't articulate. (that's a quality I won't give to Sharpton - he's downright obtuse at times). So Bright and Clean? Does Jackson come off that way? I guess the "Clean" word is a contentious one, because what do we mean here. Physical Grooming habits? (moustache). Or ethically clean? Jackson, Sharpton AND Braun all have some ethical controversy tied to them. Obama, so far, does not. Other than the "middle name" - which Americans are either going to come to accept, or not.

Carol Mosely Braun - frankly, I like her, and think she would have been a good president too. And as far as "qualities" go - she's got them. But she does not possess the raw charisma of Obama. And the ethical cloud that hangs over her could be brought to bear by the Mighty Wurlitzer (whether it's valid or not) if she were to run.

Obama very carefully, (but easily) straddles the line between being Sharpton and Jackson-like, and being too watered-down. And nobody has traced any dirty dealings to him yet. So what Biden says, is correct - and not at all racist.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 31, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Guess I dont't consider Jackson, Braun and Sharpton to be mainstream. Or Alan Keyes or Shirley Chisholm.

Posted by: zenger on January 31, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Why do conservatives give RUSH LIMBAUGH a pass for repeatedly calling Obama a "HALF-RICAN AMERICAN"?

While Biden's comments seem rooted in arrogance and condescension, Limbaugh is clearly coming from an assumption of mockery and hostility to Obama's basic racial identity. And yet he suffers no consequences at all.

Posted by: Dr. Anatole Gavage-Huskanoy on January 31, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

You can't see the smallest bit of racism in that statement? He's pretty much saying Obama is the only African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking.

Yes, the comments can very easily be offensive because of their racial insensitivity. But Obama's whole campaign is about presenting himself in exactly those terms. The guy has spent a lot of time and money to brand him in his current image. That's what marketing campaigns do.

Still, Biden was very stupid here.

Posted by: gq on January 31, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Biden is in the pocket of the credit card industry. He has no brief at all with the problems of ordinary working men and women. Want proof, read his bankruptcy bill.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 31, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I have an idea. At two years out let us, the Democratic Party, spend all of our time inexorably, one by one, beating the living snot out of all of our candidates.

That way, by the time the actual primary process begins, there will only be one scarred and battered person left.

Jeeze, I am beginning to wonder if we really deserve the democracy that was handed us.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Dont over react. Biden doesnt have a chance to win, he is a good Senator. His criticisms of the others' policies are valid. There is no need to try to keep him from winning the nomination; he cant win anyways.

Posted by: Jimmy on January 31, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I am not a fan of Biden, but this was a transcription of a conversation. I am willing to bet it sounds a lot better than transcibed and that the personal descriptions are in parallel with the African American, not modifying it. As far as 'clean', I suspect that refers to clean-cut, a somewhat old school description that also fits John Edwards.

Biden is not presidential material for lots of reasons. But I really want to hear his words before labelling him racially insensitive. I think he deserves better.

Posted by: Nat on January 31, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly Biden is not tactful or politically skillful.

However, it does seem to me he has a point. Whoever is the next president, and it may well be a Democrat, is going to have to do *something* about Iraq. Since, on the face of it, all the options are terrible, the President is going to get tarred with the consequences of whichever terrible path he/she chooses. I don't find the Clinton, Edwards, or Obama plans remotely persuasive that they won't continue/worsen the chaos.

The Biden plan might work if we were, say, the Roman empire. I think in the TV era we are too squeamish to carry it out with enough thoroughness to succeed.

If the Democratic congress succeeds in forcing us out of Iraq before the election, and the situation there descends further into some form of ugliness, as it very likely will, and particularly if that has consequences for the oil supply, then the next President will be a Republican (making bogus but colorable claims that the disaster wouldn't have happened except for those lily-livered Democrats).

Hence the appeal of non-binding resolutions, no doubt.

Posted by: Stuart Staniford on January 31, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G, you're right, but I can never resist an opportunity to take a smack at Biden just for being Biden. Every presidential election cycle he shows up expecting--or at least pretending to expect--to be taken seriously. If he actually wanted to act like a Democrat with a spine, credibility and authority, he's had plenty of wasted opportunities to do so over the past six years.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I agree with you; it's just a matter of time before we see a takedown gaffe. Biden lost me during the Roberts hearing. If ever one wants an example of someone in love with his own voice, man, that's the ticket, the very definition of bloviating. And although I'm not a big fan of Jesse Jackson (he coulda been a contenda), he cleaned Biden's clock in '88, you might recall.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like a lot of people are getting outraged without being able to contradict what he said. The reality is that the main three African American candidates really were messes. Sharpton and Jackson were undeniably corrupt (and neither was handsome), and Keyes was just fucking nuts. Almost no one ever heard of any of the others.

Posted by: plunge on January 31, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

If you look at the past black Presidential candidates - Obama DOES possess certain qualities that none of the others have.

Obama possesses certain characteristics that a fair number of past white presidential candidates haven't had either.

Some are suggesting the sentence was poorly punctuated by the editor, that a comma is missing:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The comma before "who" changes the meaning significantly.

Here's how I read it: "Not only is Obama the first mainstream African-American presidential candidate, but he's also articulate and bright..."

Obama is a double threat, in other words.

"Clean" is a bit of a problem unless Biden meant "clean" in an ethical sense. But if that's the case, then Obama is a triple threat.

By no means a Biden fan, just interested in fairness.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

He could say the clean in his comments meant - free of political scandal. However, in view of his comments about 7-11 and Indians, and his bragging about coming from Delaware a slave state I don't think there will be much symapathy from the minority community. He's just a tad bit too superficial and insensitive.

Posted by: aline on January 31, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Extradite Rumsfeld: "Jackson and Sharpton, love them or hate them, have based their careers on fiery rhetoric and race-baiting."

One white person's "race-baiting rhetoric" is, more often than not, an African-American's "truth".

Jesse Jackson finished second overall in the 1988 Democratic primary campaign, having won a number of primaries and caucuses, including an atonishing triumph in Michigan. The reason for his strong showing was that he was the only Democratic candidate who was addressing issues important to the Midwest's family farmers and indistrial workers, the vast majority of whom are white.

Even my aforementioned grandmother, a farmer's wife, voted for him in the Illinois primary.

Disclosure: I was elected as a Jackson delegate from Hawaii, when he won the caucuses out here.

However -- and this is a striking example of how internal political party politics can be corrupted by well-placed insiders -- only 14 of our 28 Hawaii delegates were up for election by mainstream Democrats in those caucuses. The governor, as titular head of the state party, was designated by party rules to appoint the other 14.

Jackson took 60% of the caucus vote in Hawaii, and received 9 of the 14 potential delegates available to him. But because then-Gov. John Waihee had already pledged his support to Mass. Gov. Michael Dukakis, he appointed 14 Dukakis supporters. So Dukakis held the pledges of 19 of the 28 Hawaii delegates, despite receiving a little less than 40% of the vote.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Joseph Biden is a long standing member of the Democratic party and has been praised as a great senator by people on this site. He has said what most liberals were thinking; "We finally have a really good black man to run for president; I though we were all out."

This guy has now made two bonehead comments but still the liberals will stand by him and pretend it wasn't that big of a deal.

Biden has now said the equivilent of the word macaca - twice.

The only way to get anyone kicked out of the Democrat party is to have them say they support President Bush.

Liberals are hypocrites.

Posted by: Orwell on January 31, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Why do conservatives give RUSH LIMBAUGH a pass for repeatedly calling Obama a "HALF-RICAN AMERICAN"?

Because Rush is a vile, despicable example of why Americans manage to alienate so much of the world. We expect him to act like a pig and he never disappoints us. Biden seems capable of learning and acting like a civilized human being.

Posted by: freelunch on January 31, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I actually think Biden is RIGHT about Obama. He's wrong about a hell of a lot of other stuff, but he's right about this.

If he were white, we wouldn't even be discussing him.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 31, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

For people who can not understand why the statement quoted in this post is racist:

One word:

"articulate"

Articulate? Are you kidding me?!? Whatever you think of Obama - and I am an Edwards supporter who agrees w/ Kevin that Obama's policies do not quite match his rhetoric - Obama might just be the most eloquent orater to grace the U.S. Senate since Daniel Webster. Senators are supposed to be good oraters, and you do not call good oraters - much less great ones - "articulate". You call teenagers, assembly line workers, and prisoners "articulate" when they make an intelligent point clearly. Oh yeah, there is one other group of people you call "articulate" when they do not sound like complete idiots: black people.

Face it: the quote was racist, and if Biden said it, he needs to apologize.

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hard to believe anyone could run a more hapless campaign than Christopher Dodd.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 31, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I just listened to the audio of the interview (link at TalkingPointsMemo.com).

Absolutely no question there should have been a comma in the transcript before "who."

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards a lightweight? Nonsense.

With such comments, Biden is only making things easier for the mainstream (and corporate centrist Ivy League) media's wet dream of a strictly Clinton-Obama race.

Posted by: Vincent on January 31, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Biden is not presidential material for lots of reasons. But I really want to hear his words before labelling him racially insensitive. I think he deserves better.
Posted by: Nat on January 31, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, one CAN be a complete clod, and still be well-intentioned when it comes to race.

He has been an incumbent since 1972. Incumbents don't need to work on their electability skills to stay employed. (which well explains Lieberman).

I do agree with Ron Beyers, that Biden would be unacceptable as President due to his acts of fellatio on Big Credit.

As long as I was throwing out Feingold, I may as well convey my enthusiasm for Kucinich, as well. Feingold and Kucinich are the only D candidates that give me any hope of Real Change.

I think in the TV era we are too squeamish to carry it out with enough thoroughness to succeed.
Posted by: Stuart Staniford on January 31, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think that a large number of Americans are deeply disappointed that Bush did not carry this out with enough thoroughness to succeed. I warned them that he wouldn't do it, despite all his tough talk. (ie. Iraqi Genocide). They re-elected the fucker anyway.

With that crowd - Bush has already lost this conflict on those terms. Plus-up is more empty promises to "take the gloves off". Lets watch that fail too, shall we? Then we can have a more honest discussion about what we're really going to do about Iraq. Because the dead-enders out there still believe we're going to turn Iraq into a glass parking lot when push comes to shove. Boy are their slack-jaws going to hit the floor.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 31, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

In our nation's racial culture, "articulate" has taken on the meaning of "talks pretty good for one of them." (When was the last time you heard a white person with a Harvard Law degree described as articulate?) It is -- or was -- a perfectly useful word, but unfortunately it has to be used selectively, and unfortunately Senator Biden has trouble with selectivity.

Posted by: Eddie on January 31, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Commagate.

Posted by: jimmy on January 31, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is articulate and Biden is jealous of that.

Posted by: david in norcal on January 31, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

The argument that Biden is not making some pretty odious racial assumptions here is pretty ridiculous to me. Now I can perhaps except the argument that perhaps the writer simply didn't place the comma properly. This would make the statement merely obnoxiously condescending and more than a little stupid. But clearly if we take the statement as it is written, he is making a statement something along the lines of "hey, he is one of those well spoken black folks. Not like the rest of them." Most sentient human beings do not feel it is necessary to point out that a particular professional politician is clean and articulate. Not unless they are stating it to contrast some other normative assumption. People do not for instance make statements noting what a wonderfully articulate white man Joe Biden is. If you cannot see the racism in this, then I am not sure how that you can notice te racism in anything that isn't overtly hateful.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

If you can reasonably add a comma before the "who", and the whole brouhaha goes away, add the damn comma.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall insists there's still a big controversy even with the comma added.

The guy seems to have lost his marbles on this one.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall insists there's still a big controversy even with the comma added.

I do not agree that it is a controversial statement with the comma added - just a stupid one.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know, Biden's comments probably look worse in print. When spoken they sound like a run-on thought, not racist, a bit clumsy perhaps.

I was at that infamous event three years ago when Congressman Jim Moran allegedly made an anti-Semitic remark in the Q&A period of a town meeting during the run-up to the Iraq war. It was around 9 pm after a long day. It was a clumsy remark for sure but no one in the room, including a handful of Jews, said they were offended at the time. Only after his comment appeared in print did people launch into him.

I'm sure people with an agenda will go after Biden, too. But let's get real -- this is nowhere near the pure bigotry expressed recently by Rep. Virgil Goode or former Senator George Allen.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 31, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell wrote: He has said what most liberals were thinking; "We finally have a really good black man to run for president; I though we were all out."

You have absolutely zero evidence that "most liberals" were thinking that.

You are a pretentious phony.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 31, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

What really matters here is that Biden just permanently alienated the most most loyal constituency of the Democractic party - black voters.
It really doesn't matter now whether there should have been a "comma" someplace in that quote. I doubt if black voters will really care.

Posted by: kubakloth@ca.rr.com on January 31, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

This guy has now made two bonehead comments but still the liberals will stand by him...

Pretty funny Orwell. When hasn't your fearless Leader made a bonehead comment?

Posted by: ckelly on January 31, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Most sentient human beings do not feel it is necessary to point out that a particular professional politician is clean and articulate. Not unless they are stating it to contrast some other normative assumption.

Is it your contention that Biden must have been contrasting Obama with other blacks because all white presidential candidates are articulate, bright, clean, and nice-looking?

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The 'gaffe machine' quotient is not hard to observe during Biden's appearances on the Sunday morning shows. As he nears the end of any appearance, he's always correcting, clarifying or re-clarifying himself at the host's or opponent's insistence.

He's never, to my knowledge, made a "Macaca'-level gaffe, but he's always just a few degrees shy of real hot water.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 31, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I do not agree that it is a controversial statement with the comma added - just a stupid one.

I think the major stupidity of the remark, with comma added, is only that it COULD be misinterpreted.

It's hard to see how the content, as it was intended to be conveyed, could be offensive. If it's offensive to compliment the first African American mainstream candidate because it somehow would imply that all other African-Americans must lack the same positive attributes, then God help us all.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

How does the damn comma make it go away? With the comma, he was not spefically relating "articulate" and "clean" to being African-American. So? Do you really think he would have referred to a white Senator as "articulate"? Has he ever referred to a white Senator as "articulate"? With the comma he was not being dirrectly racist, he was just being subconsiously racist. So he is not an evil man, I agree. Still needs to apologize.

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

With the comma, he was not spefically relating "articulate" and "clean" to being African-American. So? Do you really think he would have referred to a white Senator as "articulate"? Has he ever referred to a white Senator as "articulate"?

I think that that kind of language might often be used by a seasoned Senator about a younger colleague who is also a competitor.

In fact, I'd guess the real context of Biden's remarks is that he projects a certain image relative to other Senators and/or Presidential candidates.

I could easily imagine the identical language having been used about, say, John Edwards in his run for President.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0-
I am an attorney. If someone called me "articulate", I would not *NOT* feel complimented. OF COURSE I'm articulate, I made it through law school, why wouldn't I be?

Obama is U.S. Senator. Do you really think "articulate" is a compliment?

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall insists there's still a big controversy even with the comma added.

Josh said, "Even with the comma it's really condescending bordering on racist." But that was before he heard the audio. Now he says the transcript was pretty clearly misleading. Not clear whether he's changed his mind about the comment having been "condescending bordering on racist."

As to whether "articulate" should be considered "racially charged" when referring to a black person, as Josh claims, I think there's some circular reasoning going on here. If a person is racist, then it's racially charged. To suggest that using the term somehow proves a person is racist assumes that all white people are articulate, such that one would make that comment only about a black person. I think that's nuts, frankly, and quite possibly racist itself.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Wake the fuck up liberals! This country elected GWB president twice. Twice for god sakes. If you think about what Biden actually said you might realize that in the grand strategy of presidential politics he might just be right. And i must qualify this by saying I like Obama and I really don't find much wrong with H. Clinton.

Posted by: gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals are hypocrites.
Posted by: Orwell on January 31, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

No, we think before we throw stones, unlike rupublicants who never met a person they didn't want to condemn to hell and make them pay for the transport.
Conservatives are winning the hypocrite competition oh about 22-3 right now. You guys are in a league of your own.

Posted by: Nemesis on January 31, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

If someone called me "articulate", I would not *NOT* feel complimented. OF COURSE I'm articulate, I made it through law school, why wouldn't I be?

I know several lawyers whom I would not characterize as "articulate." Speaking comprehensible English is not necessarily equivalent to being articulate.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Face it: the quote was racist, and if Biden said it, he needs to apologize."

Decnavda, I really hate to break this news to you so late in your life, but you're a fucking moron.

Posted by: plunge on January 31, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Decnavda,

Look, remember the context here. Biden regards Obama as a competitor, obviously. What he is trying to say, in a sly way, is that Obama projects a certain glib image (much as Edwards did before him), but that maybe he's lacking in substance.

What Biden chose to do, I think, is to pay Obama a certain compliment, but to damn him with a faint kind of praise: as not yet being "substantial" enough to run for President.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Biden, as evidenced by the earlier Indian-at-Dunkin'-Donuts remark, is a rhetorical loose cannon, which makes him a less than attractive candidate.

I'm certainly not going to argue he's a virulent racist, but I do think using the word "articulate" shows a blind spot -- as Chris Rock says, decribing a black man as articulate implies you thought he'd talk like an idiot. And where did "clean" come from? That's how everyone in A Hard Day's Night described McCartney's grandfather.

Josh Marshall seems to be falling back on "but I do respect his knowledge of foreign policy". Good Christ -- he just about helped usher in the Iraq war; I'd say he's exactly the sort of "serious" Dem foreign policy expert we've got to STOP listening to.

20 years ago, when Biden was first running for president, I did my best to like him, but I got an immediate Charles Grodin vibe from him. I think he's a self-obsessed windbag who's hit-and-miss on the issues (with a big miss on anything related to his beloved credit card companies). He's no one I want as my presidential choice.

Posted by: demtom on January 31, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

plunge-

Oh, I see, you must be right. I stand in awe of your brillant reasoning.

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Gandalf, America chose Gore in 2000 but we were overrruled by 5-4 margin by a shameless Supreme Court who didn't have the stones to even sign their names to it. Remember? And as for '04, the vote was 50.3% for Bush.

Back to Biden. It's all academic. He won't get the necessary $50 million needed to sustain. There are only three (3) Dems who will: Obama, Clinton and Edwards.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm no Biden fan, but it seems to me, after hearing the audio of his remarks, that he's getting a raw deal.

Listen at: http://www.brightcove.com/title.jsp?title=463858485

Posted by: orogeny on January 31, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is a lightweight? Takes one to know one. Biden has been in the U.S. Senate since he was 29.
First, I'm always suspicious of people who enter politics--as candidates--at a young age. Did this guy ever have a life outside of the senate? He graduated from law school in 68.

Second, "only" reading policy papers and books are no substitute for real-world experience. Biden, a hawk, is also a draft-dodger. Yet, like the neocons, is considered a defense expert.

Whatever.

Posted by: Allen on January 31, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

And where did "clean" come from

I think similar or even the identical term might have been applied to John Edwards, for example.

I think "clean", "all-American", "articulate" all pretty well fit together in a certain kind of projected image. I believe that Biden was probably driving at this.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is a lightweight?

Perhaps he was a bit when he first ran for President.

More importantly, that's how he was depicted by his competitors.

One way of summarizing what I'm saying about Biden is that what the remarks revealed in Biden was not, I believe, racism, but rather competitiveness.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Extradite Rumsfeld please admit that you don't like Jackson because he STILL, well into the 21st century, wears leisure suits (custom made, no less), and you can't deal it. Ha, ha.

Posted by: Allen on January 31, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wake the fuck up liberals! This country elected GWB president twice. Twice for god sakes.
Posted by: gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

gandlaf,
you need to read the MYDD web site everyday for about a week. The statistical evidence is in. The trends are clear. The country is becoming more liberal and more partisanly democratic with every month that passes. It's not the same landscape as 2004.
The 2006 mid terms were the tip of the iceberg. Furthermore, the right wing media machine is starting to lose credibility and power as blogs such as this one fact check them and comedy shows mock them for their pro GOP lies.

Posted by: Nemesis on January 31, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, I wonder who is really the gaffe machine here.

Seems to me that Biden provided his assessment of the prospects of each candidate, from his perspective, and did a fairly good job of outlining some things that might go in their favor and also against them. He is, after all, running against them, and presumably the reporter did ask him for his opinion.

The sneer in the tone of the article was clearly either provided, or at the very least added to, by the person who wrote it. Then Kevin picks up the sneery tone and doubles down by calling Biden a "gaffe machine." Rather a gaffe in itself, I think--both Horowitz and Drum joining in on ripping on a Democrat for (allegedly) ripping on Democrats.

Biden is probably wrong in thinking that he'll win the nomination, but I wouldn't call him a "gaffe machine"--at least not over this article.


And I don't get the racism thing at all. Obama does have that squeaky-clean Wonder Bread commercial look--the one that just makes people feel so good about him that they'd buy the product he's selling. In combination with his other attributes, this makes him the first African American presidential candidate who might easily claim to have widespread appeal. And he is somewhat inexperienced, which (Biden hopes) could go against him.

Biden's words, while frank, don't seem snotty--but the tone of the article sure does.

Posted by: erica on January 31, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Good heavens.. (as Rummy likes to say)...

Is this someone speaking plainly about a topic that tangentially involves race? He must be a racist then. ...or so the (outrage) logic goes.

This illustrates one of the chief failings of us white liberals. Some of us inadvertently make ourselves hypocrites because, although we champion noble causes (like civil rights), we fail to see that we haven't personally resolved the issues underlying that cause (i.e., racism, legacy of slavery).

So, someone says "Black people sure love to go to church." The white liberal jumps in and says, "that makes me uncomfortable, so you're a racist." A reconstructed southerner (like me) replies, "you misunderstand how central the church has been to black's sense of community and social integrity (and continues to be), so 'no, that is not racist, only off-handed.'"

Posted by: Absent Observer on January 31, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to see how the content, as it was intended to be conveyed, could be offensive. If it's offensive to compliment the first African American mainstream candidate because it somehow would imply that all other African-Americans must lack the same positive attributes, then God help us all.

Its not hard to see for me. As many others have pointed out, referring to black people as articulate has, for a very long time now, been the sort of language that people use as a kind of shorthand for "you're one of those good negros." Believe me when I tell you that there is probably not a reasonably well educated black person on the planet earth who is not intimately familiar with this sort of back handed compliment. So for Biden , an experienced politician and one who depends a great deal on the black vote, to use this particular phrasing can only be described as stupid.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

After listening to the remarks, I'd agree that Biden is getting a raw deal. Another tempest in a teapot. Personally I'm still more concerned about his plagerism problems from the last time he ran for President. I really think Biden sees himself, or is trying to position himself, as a kind of Democratic version of John McCain circa 2000. A maverick straight shooter who will give you the honest poop on any question you ask him. The problem with Biden is far too often he comes off as too smug, too condescending and too arrogant.
As for Kevin's remark that Biden is "just a gaffe machine waiting for someone to flip the power on." All I would do is direct your attention towards the current President. Making stupid and bone-headed comments has served him pretty well. People seem to think it is part of his "charm."

Posted by: Nathan64 on January 31, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK


orwell: ..hypocrites.


if its something bush supporters know...

its hypocracy..

Posted by: mr. irony on January 31, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

MaxGowan thanks for correcting that obvious error. But never the less my point still stands. And that is that there's a whole lot of dumbasses in this country. Think about it I've actually read posts on this site that tout Bush as a good leader because he ran a couple businesses befor he got into politics. Excuse me while I gag for a minute or the next two years. The point is we need to have somebody electable thats not gonna polarize people from the getgo.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

[oh, I forget my point.]

The point is: what Biden said was off-handed, but it surely wasn't racist. It is seen as racist, I hypothesize, because some of us white liberals like the image of ourselves as "champions of the negro cause" and all kinds of other progressive things. But because we're still rotten on the inside, it makes us uncomfortable, and we project our discomfort at those who've already resolved their inner conflict on the issue.

Posted by: Absent Oberver on January 31, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Right, Gandalf, and that won't be Clinton or Obama. Neither can take the South, for starters. And that settles that right then and there. I don't think Clinton could even take Pennsylvania. (I'm from W NY, go there a lot; don't see it happening.) America is simply too racist to elect a Black Democrat (although not a Black Republican), and too sexist to elect a Dem woman -although Clinton ain't exactly the best test case, to be sure. It ain't fair, but it is the deal.

I look forward to the Repub attacks on Edwards being a trial lawyer. We'll need to remind them that a guy named Abe Lincoln became wealthy by being a trial lawyer. William Howard Taft was another.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think the reason so many people have "animus" towards Biden is quickly apparent in the linked article. He's very quick to badmouth other Democrats. I find him obnoxious. The sooner he exits the campaign the better.

Posted by: evan500 on January 31, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that some here think that a white person calling a better-educated, better-spoken black person "articulate" happened for the first time here? Are you guys really not aware that this is a hot-button word for many black people?

If someone can produce one instance of Biden calling a "younger competitor" who happens to be white "articulate," as though that's the best compliment he can pay a white Harvard law graduate and U.S. senator, I'd like to hear it.

Doubt Biden's intending to be overtly racist. But the "articulate compliment" has long been a rueful joke in the black community. It is, quite simply, a way for a well-meaning but clueless white person to express pleased surprise that the black guy speaks so much like us.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

So, someone says "Black people sure love to go to church." The white liberal jumps in and says, "that makes me uncomfortable, so you're a racist." A reconstructed southerner (like me) replies, "you misunderstand how central the church has been to black's sense of community and social integrity (and continues to be), so 'no, that is not racist, only off-handed.'"

This is a reversed analogy. Biden was not talking about what black people like to do. If one is proceeding from the basis of the interpretation without the comma, he was describing the characteristics of one black person in contrast to others. So your particular analogy would be more like hey listen I like Obama. He is one of those black people who like to go to church, just like me.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to say it Nemesis but MaxGowan is right. I wish you were right but I don't see it out here in the heartland. Therefor lets at least try to get these Dems to play it smart by putting a candidate that can win out.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one that can tell there is a real difference in the oratory skills of this president, and the last one? Remarking that Clinton is far more "articulate" than Bush is hardly racist. Anyone that thinks so is an idiot, I'm sorry to have to say.

People are compared to their peers. Biden could as easily well have been making the "articulate" comment as a comparison between Obama and his peers, ie other Senators, not the black community at large.

So he might have been saying that Obama is a particularly good speaker by Senatorial standards.

Or do all white senators have the same oratory skills, and none stick out ahead of others in this capacity? Are we that f***ing stupid?

So saying that a politician is articulate is generally meant as a comparison to his peers, not his ethnic community. Politicians are compared to their competition, just as people in every field are.

If you heard someone say, "Wow, Steve Nash can play ball", would you assume that the person really meant that since white people can't play basketball worth a shit, he's overcome a lot to be pretty good? Or would you take the comment at face value?

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Setting aside the fact that Biden's hair implants look like a cornfield after a swarm of locust came through, Joe has bent over and taken it in the ass so many times from Bush that he now gets alimony payments from him. Joe is George's bitch and he is also a spineless jellyfish that has no vision of his own. Can anyone name one piece of significant legislation he has sponsored in his long term in Congress? Quick - didn't think so.

America doesn't need a wishy-washy whore that will dither for four years. We need someone who is his own man and who is not beholden to special interests and who will take action to address the myriad of problems Bush is leaving behind. While I share Biden's concern about Obama's inexperience, I seem to recall a guy from Crawford, Texas that was dumber than a fencepost and who had very little relevant experience who was elected (well, kinda) president. Twice. At least Obama is smart. John Edwards is the man.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 31, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wow deflator tells us how you really feel. Sure Edwards maybe. Bill Richardson maybe better.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wow deflator tells us how you really feel. Sure Edwards maybe. Bill Richardson maybe better.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

If you heard someone say, "Wow, Steve Nash can play ball", would you assume that the person really meant that since white people can't play basketball worth a shit, he's overcome a lot to be pretty good? Or would you take the comment at face value?

Again, this analogy is incorrect and seems to be designed to deliberately ignore Biden's actual words. If someone said, on the other hand: "Listen. I like Steve Nash. He is one of the first white people who can really play basketball well." I would think there are two pretty disturbing racial assumptions in that statement. You see, he didn't just mention Obama. He mentioned his race. Taking the comment at face value means taking that into account.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"articulate" is racist code and everyone knows it. give me an effing break!

and listen to the awe in biden's statement. he's stunned and amazed at this surprisingly gifted black man. it's as if he's never encountered such a thing in his life...

offense is in the eye of the offended. if you think otherwise, you're an asshole...

Posted by: travy on January 31, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Richardson delivered a real whopper on his resume, claiming to have played Major League Baseball. When he was calle on it, he delivered a really slimy response, "Oh yeah . . . an error." I have a good friend who has lived in New Mexico since '99, says he's like that, has done absolutely nothing of note as Governor. Another also-ran

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Is it your contention that Biden must have been contrasting Obama with other blacks because all white presidential candidates are articulate, bright, clean, and nice-looking?

No I am contending that Biden is contrasting that if one takes the statement as written, without assuming the comma, then Biden is very clearly making a statement that normatively assumes that being articulate is an noteworthy trait for a black person in particular. I am contending that because that is what those words mean.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Max George Bush claims to be a human being. Most of the sentient beings on the planet have called him on that. If thats the worst Richardsons done I can live with it. As to what he's done go to wikipedia. There usually unbiased.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 31, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry. The first part of that should read "No I am contending that if one takes the statement as written,..."

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Racist statement? Give me a break! People (mostly the media and the bloggers)are falling all over themselves waiting (with baited breath) for Biden to step in it. It's like they waited for Gore to wear the wrong colors, or for Bush to trip over his words. Biden saying the wrong thing is a media story line. Think for your self. Biden's a talker! He's going to say stuff, but calling this a racist statement is over the top. The coverage Obama's been getting is over the top, too.

Posted by: ExBrit on January 31, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf - this is academic; Richardson is going nowhere. My knowledge is admittedly second hand, but my friend has been the consistenly most astute political observer I've known for 32 years (he is the son of a former Asst. Attorney General, semi-famous, FWIW), and he just absolutely despises Richardson. He almost wrote the Kerry campaign to beg them not to consider Richardson, he feels that strongly. I trust my friend's judgment on this one. Apologies for the brevity.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I also tend to write off anyone so highly praised by the Cato Institute.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Biden has no chance and I don't know why one of his friends won't tell him that.

Posted by: Jimm on January 31, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

If he were white, we wouldn't even be discussing him.

If he were uninspiring and uncharismatic, we wouldn't be discussing him. However, he is both and that's why he's a frontrunner.

Can anyone name one piece of significant legislation he has sponsored in his long term in Congress? Quick - didn't think so.

The abomination referred to as the Bankruptcy Reform act comes to mind. And is one major reason why I would never support Biden.

Posted by: Edo on January 31, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Allen: " ... leisure suits (custom made, no less) ..."

Custom-made or not, leisure suits are surely one of the most frightening affronts to fashion ever conceived by designers.

travy: " ... listen to the awe in biden's statement ..."

... as the Democratic Party's resident Senate blowhard reminisces about one of his own floor speeches.

God help the party if he somehow ever becomes its presidential nominee.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Jimm: "Biden has no chance and I don't know why one of his friends won't tell him that."

That's because self-righteous and self-absorbed guys like Joe Biden surround themselves with sycophants and co-dependents.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii: That's because self-righteous and self-absorbed guys like Joe Biden surround themselves with sycophants and co-dependents.

Or like George Bush.

BTW, does Biden fire or force to resign everybody who disagrees with him or is that only Bush?

Posted by: Google_This on January 31, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Biden wants to be the new (and improved) Dick Cheney, not president.

Leave him in peace.

He will have no impact on the race for the presidential nomination whether you attack him, praise him, or ignore him, so quit wasting type and just ignore him.

Posted by: Google_This on January 31, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that some here think that a white person calling a better-educated, better-spoken black person "articulate" happened for the first time here? Are you guys really not aware that this is a hot-button word for many black people?

Who ever called Bush articulate? Or Quayle? Or Eisenhower? Or Ford? Or a bunch of other meally-mouthed Presidents and Presidential candidates? Wasn't one of John Kennedy's great atttributes that he WAS articulate?

Now, I'll grant that the term "articulate" might be considered a pejorative by blacks. And maybe Biden stepped into that. But I don't know how anyone can assume that Biden had the slightest clue about that -- I think that that point would have been lost on a great many of us.

In the end, it's going to be very difficult to talk about Obama at all if everywhere people step rhetorically they are excoriated for racism. People are going to throw up their hands in disgust if wolf gets cried too often and on too slight a ground.

This would be a perfect example of what people in larger public will find simply ridiculous as something indicating racism.

And Obama's supporters had better come to understand that point if they want their man to win.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 31, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

You mean nobody every called Jesse Jackson articulate?

Or Martin Luther King?

Or that each took it as a racial slur?

Puhleeeeeese.

Posted by: Google_This on January 31, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

The first part of that should read "No I am contending that if one takes the statement as written,..."

The statement wasn't "written" per se. It's a transcript of an oral interview. And if you listen to the audio, it's obvious that the transcript is misleadingly punctuated; there should be a comma before "who."

So you can't even take the statement as transcribed.


Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

"offense is in the eye of the offended. if you think otherwise, you're an asshole..."

I definitely think otherwise in many situations, but I don't think I'm an asshole.

Offense is in the eye of everyone. It's not hard for the public to look at an incident and say, "Wow that person really over-reacted." Just because someone feels offense, doesn't mean it was intended, or even that most people would feel offended in the same situation.

Soem people take offense at being wished "Merry Christmas". Likewise, other people get offended when other religious celebrations are given mention alongside Christmas, or get offended when someone wishes them a "Happy Hanukah" or Eid Mubarak.

I firmly belief the feeling of offense is the problem in those situtations, not the well-wishers.

Similarly, if someone is handing out compliments in ways that can be interpreted as damning with faint praise, the you should look for other things he said to support your assessment of it as an insult. Otherwise, it sounds like faux-outrage. And I'm just about sick of hearing faux-outrage as a weapon to shut up people you don't want to listen to. The Republicans are absolute masters of this practice, playing the morality card at every turn to avoid debate. They've been doing it for as long as I've followed politics.

We really don't want to go there...

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, can an ugly white woman call a good-looking black woman beautiful or is that also a hot-button word for blacks because it's racist for an ugly white person to note that there are better looking blacks in the world than him or her?

And tell me this: if the white person were actually better looking, would that be wrong also? Say, if Rebecca Romjin said that Kerry Washington was really pretty?

Or is it that certain people read "for a black person" into every statement of every white person so they can call them a racist, since clearly they have nothing better to do?

Posted by: Google_This on January 31, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"offense is in the eye of the offended. if you think otherwise, you're an asshole..."

I'm personally offended by your statement.

I'm sure you think I have nothing to be offended by.

Ergo, you must be an assh*le.

Posted by: Google_This on January 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Biden simply meant to say that Obama is more articulate than Biden is. Which is true.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 31, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

brent: I see my mistake in reading the alleged statement. It does read that Biden essentially said "Obama's the first serious black contender -- he's handsome, smart, articulate, (and fatally inexperienced)." So my analogy was not analogous; it was more of an aside.

It still seems like a Red Herring. Biden thinks Obama's inexperienced. That's it.

I would characterize Mr Obama as especially articulate, handsome, clean-cut, and smart. Being an impassioned speaker (E.g., articulate) is probably his most outstanding characteristic. No one's playing jungle music behind any attack ads. No one's saying he studied in a madrasah. No one's clipping Obama at the ankles, but they are to Biden. It's a Red Herring.

Posted by: Absent Observer on January 31, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Biden has long been a living caraciture of a modern U.S. Senator, same with McCain; guys who just cannot, under any circumstances, keep their mouth shut in front of a microphone, or their mug away from a camera, if there is any opportunity within a five mile radius to do otherwise. The longer these guys stay in that clubby little group, the more likely it that they will become afflicted with the malady. On average, the most useless life-form in the galaxy is a U.S. Senator who has served more than three terms.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Google_This: "BTW, does Biden fire or force to resign everybody who disagrees with him or is that only Bush?"

I agree that my characterization of Joe Biden as someone who surrounds himself with sycophants and co-dependents also applies to George Bush -- it also applies to Joe Lieberman and my own senator, Dan Inouye. It's not an uncommon trait for those in politics and public life.

And what makes you imply that only right-wing ideologues can be intolerant of dissent?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Extradite Rumsfeld wrote: "As long as I was throwing out Feingold, I may as well convey my enthusiasm for Kucinich, as well. Feingold and Kucinich are the only D candidates that give me any hope of Real Change."

I agree. I supported Kucinich for President in 2004 and I am supporting him again this time.

Kucinich was the only candidate for the Democratic nomination who attended the huge antiwar rally in DC this past Saturday.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 31, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Forget it frankly0, If you think you are going to convince the vastly experienced, wise, and uber sophisticated liberal intelligencia assembled here to not join in yet another Democratic circular firing squad, you are mistaken.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Biden is one of those folks who believes it is his mission to save the Democratic Party from excessive liberalism. He's spinach, and I say the hell with him.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on January 31, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Donald from Beautiful Hawaii Nei: "And what makes you imply that only right-wing ideologues can be intolerant of dissent?"

I rescind that rather snarky comment / challenge. I obviously read far more into your statement than what you intended.

As the legendary Emily Litella said, "Never mind."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Who ever called Bush articulate?"

When I say that Pelosi (my representative, btw) is not a good speechmaker, I am not insulting her. I am pointing out a useful skill that it would be better if she had, but she doesn't. When I say that Bush is not articulate, and I have, I *AM* insulting him. Being articulate is an atribute that someone in his position SHOULD have. To compliment someone on being articulate is to compliment them on meeting the minimum requirements.

"Now, I'll grant that the term "articulate" might be considered a pejorative by blacks. And maybe Biden stepped into that. But I don't know how anyone can assume that Biden had the slightest clue about that -- I think that that point would have been lost on a great many of us."

Thus, Biden was clueless. Forgive me, but I think that someone seeking the Democratic nomination for President *should* know what terms blacks consider pejorative.

Look, I will conceed here on degrees of offense. I think Lott should have been forced to resign from the Senate for his endorsement of Strom's 1948 Presidential campaign, rather than just demoted to a Senate committee chairmanship. This is hardly on that level. But it deserves an appology.

"This would be a perfect example of what people in larger public will find simply ridiculous as something indicating racism."

Well yes, but "people in larger public" (i.e. white people) do not like to admit the existence of unintentional racism.

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

And I'm just about sick of hearing faux-outrage as a weapon to shut up people you don't want to listen to. The Republicans are absolute masters of this practice, playing the morality card at every turn to avoid debate. They've been doing it for as long as I've followed politics.

We really don't want to go there...

What you said.

I just found a piece on HuffPo--ironically, dated yesterday--titled "Obama the Articulate," pointing out (with quotes) that "articulate" is an exceedingly common way to characterize a politician. Worth a read.

Don't know how to do linkies, but it's here:

tinyurl.com/24namj


Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

From another HuffPo article, posted today:

"In a private interview Tuesday night in New York City, this articulate, attractive candidate told me that..."

Guess who the articulate, attractive candidate was?

Joe Biden.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO: But I don't know how anyone can assume that Biden had the slightest clue about that -- I think that that point would have been lost on a great many of us.

The point continues to be lost on several of you, much to my surprise. Frankly, O (sorry; couldn't resist), I am astounded that so many politically aware, well-read people could have missed the racial connotations of the word "articulate," given how much has been written and said over the years about this particular term, the context in which it is applied to blacks but not whites, and the general black reaction to it.

Once again, the point is not that there exist some white candidates who have not been honored for their articulation. The point is that this is a word used almost exclusively to "compliment" black people whose oratory skills are considered unusual enough to be remarked upon by white people. It is a very loaded term and has long been recognized as such by anyone paying the slightest attention to race relations. Joe Biden, long-term Democratic senator, should be one of those people. That he is not simply reinforces the evidence, mentioned by many above, that the gentleman's listening skills show in poor contrast to his love of hearing himself prattle on.

I don't intend to be snarky here. I think you're one of the most talented and perceptive posters at Political Animal, which is why I'm surprised at your reaction to this issue. This is not "crying wolf" or people unfairly being castigated for inadvertently stepping in it. Intended or not, this is a legitimate gaffe on Biden's part and blaming Obama supporters, whatever that may mean, for excessive sensitivity isn't going to cut it--particularly if Biden is remotely interested in snagging any black votes.

Keith G: If you think you are going to convince the vastly experienced, wise, and uber sophisticated liberal intelligencia assembled here to not join in yet another Democratic circular firing squad, you are mistaken.

Wow. Where did that come from?

SecularAnimist: Tell me, can an ugly white woman call a good-looking black woman beautiful or is that also a hot-button word for blacks because it's racist for an ugly white person to note that there are better looking blacks in the world than him or her?

You might have an analogy there, friend, if that word were frequently used to single out a black woman whom the speaker seems amazed to note is pretty good-looking for a black chick, and if black women had been pointing out forever that they find it amusing when white people act stunned to find a black person beautiful. As it is: beep.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Decnavda: "When I say that Pelosi (my representative, btw) is not a good speechmaker, I am not insulting her. I am pointing out a useful skill that it would be better if she had, but she doesn't."

You know, I absolutely adore Nancy Pelosi, but I agree with you about her "speechifyin'" abilities, which can sound anywhere from mildly annoying to fingernails-across-the-chalkboard grating. She is clearly not very good when she's pre-scripted.

My old friend, Congressman Neil Abercrombie, is one of the more colorful and articulate liberal members in the House today, and when he's addressing a crowd he's positively inspiring. Neil's always at his best when he's literally "winging it", talking off-the-cuff or from just bullet points.

However, when speaking from prepared remarks, Neil's almost as wooden as one of those carved chiefs in from of Knott's Berry Farm's general store.

No doubt I'm biased, but liberals are at their best when speaking from their hearts.

And speaking from the heart -- the great columnist Molly Ivins was released from the hospital today so she could spend her final days at home with family and friends. Let's please remember this great lady in our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, not convinced by 8 out of context examples from 8 years of media coverage, one of which referred to Edwards as an "articulate and good Southerner". Nope, no backhanded compliment there.

I guess this is where the debate ends. Neither side here will convince the other without social science research on the word.

If you can show me Biden himself using the word to describe a white politician (without a reference to some reason the politician might be inarticulate, like being a Southerner), I will downgrade the offense from unconcious racism to simple cluelessness about the concerns of a major Democratic voting block.

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Christ. Obama's just released a statement that deliberately reinforces the no-comma, racist interpretation of Biden's remarks:

“I didn’t take Senator Biden’s comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate. African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”

That's inexcusable.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Decnavda: Forgive me, but I think that someone seeking the Democratic nomination for President *should* know what terms blacks consider pejorative.

Yes, it really is that simple. And the level of irritation in this thread from people having this pointed out to them is amazing. Haven't you guys ever said, "Wow, I didn't know that so-and-so is very widely considered an insult by a certain group, not just something remarked upon by a couple of people looking to score points. Maybe I'll do a little homework and check this out before I start telling people to suck it up and stop making a big deal out of nothing?" I have.

Decnavda again: If you can show me Biden himself using the word to describe a white politician (without a reference to some reason the politician might be inarticulate, like being a Southerner), I will downgrade the offense from unconcious racism to simple cluelessness about the concerns of a major Democratic voting block.

Yep, second request for that one.

Donald from Hawaii: Have been out of the news loop and I had missed that Ivins is terminally ill. Extremely sorry to hear that; I'll go check that out.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

A must-read from James Wolcott's blog in Vanity Fair: Obama: He's No Funky Negro

"High praise indeed from Joe Biden, whose hairplugs seem to have made hazardous inroads into his brain."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

If you can show me Biden himself using the word to describe a white politician (without a reference to some reason the politician might be inarticulate, like being a Southerner), I will downgrade the offense from unconcious racism to simple cluelessness about the concerns of a major Democratic voting block.

How about an interviewer using the words "attractive and articulate" to describe Biden? I found one about 15 minutes ago; see my post above at 6:39.

Sorry, but it is, as I said, an exceedingly common term used to characterize politicians of all colors, and people who speak in public and to the media generally. It was used over and over again to describe Webb after his response to the SOTU, just for one example.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 31, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Donald From Hawaii wrote: "And speaking from the heart -- the great columnist Molly Ivins was released from the hospital today so she could spend her final days at home with family and friends. Let's please remember this great lady in our thoughts and prayers."

By far the most important comment posted on this blog today.

Molly Ivins is not only a great columnist, she is a great human being.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 31, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Molly Ivins passed away today.

Posted by: . on January 31, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

God rest her beautiful soul. I bet she's giving St. Peter belly-laughs as we speak. Thanks for everything, Mollie.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

A huge, huge loss. Both of my favorite loudmouthed Texas liberals gone within a few months of each other.

We are diminished.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Biden is an air head...

Posted by: cleve on January 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Or is it that certain people read "for a black person" into every statement of every white person so they can call them a racist, since clearly they have nothing better to do?

Of course the whole point, if you are paying any attention at all is that noone has to read in for a black person because Biden actually includes Obama's race in the statement.

The statement wasn't "written" per se. It's a transcript of an oral interview. And if you listen to the audio, it's obvious that the transcript is misleadingly punctuated; there should be a comma before "who."

I have acknowledged that the statement is a bit different if one includes the comma. But it seems to me that many people on this board are not able to see the racism in the statement even without the comma.

Posted by: brent on January 31, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be that Biden pulled a Kerry and left the word candidate out of his description of Obama? I'm betting he did. He's not David Duke.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on January 31, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

A moment of silence, please. There was just a huge ripple in the life force. The worlds fore-most practitioner of the Texas-style ass-whoopin' has passed from our midst.

Thanks Molly, we'll try not to let you down.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 31, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

As long as we're all perseverating on the issue of race here, and since this appears to be a mostly white blog (not that there's anything wrong with that), one thing I've noticed in the past couple of months: The Obama phenom seems to be a mostly young, liberal and especially white phenomenon. Has anyone here talked to, say, middle-aged Black women and men? I don't mean to be snarky here in the least. Half of the people I work with fall into this category, and I can't think of any of them who are especially enamored. At least in my sample, there is a widespread belief that he's not ready. There is far more support for Hillary than Obama among my middle-age Black friends and colleagues.

Posted by: MaxGowan on January 31, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

"He's not David Duke."

No, not by a long shot. That is what I meant by statement about degrees above. He is not even Trent Lott, not by a shot. It was not a felony, more like an infraction, but an infraction that should be acknowledged and appologized for. Which I think he has already done, so that is good.

Posted by: Decnavda on January 31, 2007 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Where did that come from?

It comes from frustration. I would so like to see America's oldest political party spend this next year cultivating an ecletic chorus of voices. Instead of condemning our brothers and sisters right out of the box, lets encourage them. The more ideas, the more plans, and the more choices at this stage the better.

Posted by: Keith G on January 31, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously it's time for us to NOT MENTION anyone's ethnicity.

When I'm introduced, people do not say "Tom Nicholson, a white male of Scottish and English heritage."

Think about it. Even the politically correct usage of African American can get one in hot water if the person happens to have more melanin in their skin and NOT have african ancestry!

Tony Dungy was right. He said he looked forward to a time when we get beyond the (hype) need to even MENTION one's race.

Obama is a force, regardless of any description of his appearance.

Biden is perhaps experiencing one of the fastest "has-been" acts seen in recent years.

Oops.

Hilary is a woman. She is not a particulary charming person. She's already lost my vote. I'll wait till the Democratic Convention B4 I make-up my mind who is a viable candidate to help
our country back from the abyss of the Bush years.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 31, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

'“I didn’t take Senator Biden’s comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate. African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”

That's inexcusable.'

Don't talk nonsense. Every black person who heard that heard the insult behind it.

It's like the Chris Rock monologue where he mocked how white people were constantly praising Colin Powell as 'articulate'...

"He talks so nice...
He talks so nice...

That's what you say about a retarded child !

He's an educated man. How is he supposed to talk ?"

'Articulate' belongs alongside other gems of infuriatingly condescending white liberal 'praise' as ...

"You're a credit to your race."
"You're not like other blacks."
"If I hadn't met you face to face, I would never have known you were black."

Every educated black person has had this thrown at them at one point or another and Obama was absolutely right to take offense on behalf of black people everywhere.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Just an open question: How does one remark on the exceptional oratory skills of a black person? Not "exceptional for a black person", as so many here think Biden implied, but just plain exceptional, by any standard.

Chris Rock's bit (I have every stand-up video he's released) about Colin Powell was that white people said that "He speaks so well!" The word "articulate" was never uttered by Rock in that bit. So, back to my question...if remarking that "he speaks so well", a less articulate expression of "articulate" is out, and so is "articulate", could someone please tell me what words could be used to convey my appreciation for Obama's oratory talents? They are not those of your every-day politician.

Or is it wrong to find his talents remarkable?

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Obama isn't any more 'articulate' than most other Senators. As a Harvard Law School graduate OF COURSE he knows how to use the English language effectively. To praise him for being 'articulate' is like praising a centerfold for being pretty. How many inarticulate senators are there ?

To refuse to see the racial context of his remark is to be hide behind evasions, like trying to distinguish between 'articulate' and 'he talks so nice'. Middle class blacks have heard it often enough to recognize immediately where it is coming from. Praise that you don't talk or act like 'those people' and are exceeding very low expectations.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson: "Tony Dungy was right. He said he looked forward to a time when we get beyond the (hype) need to even MENTION one's race."

Yeah, right. That way, the Super Bowl-bound coach can spend more time fundraising for gay-bashing "Christian" advocacy groups.

The Indianapolis Colts' front office only just heard about his appearance as "Guest of Honor" at the Indiana amily Institute's Family & Friends Banquet, and while their spokesperson had no official comment, she implied that the owner was none too pleased about this particular extracurricular activity.

I'm very sorry that Tony Dungy suffered the painful loss last year of his teenaged son in such a horrific and very public manner, but I also lament that he apparently gained little or no positive spiritual insight from his experience.

Want a find a fitting way to honor Texas hellraiser Molly Ivins?

Contact both Colts owner Jim Irsay and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and ask them firmly but politely to state publicly and unequivocally that Mr. Dungy's leveraging of his personal celebrity to promote intolerance and divisiveness is neither appreciated nor sanctioned by either the Indianapolis Colts or the National Football League.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2007 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

It comes from frustration. I would so like to see America's oldest political party spend this next year cultivating an ecletic chorus of voices. Instead of condemning our brothers and sisters right out of the box, lets encourage them. The more ideas, the more plans, and the more choices at this stage the better.

It seems to me that a distinction should be made between failing to support one's party's nominated candidate in the general election and commenting on the behavior of the various candidates as they grapple for pre-primary position. Further, a distinction can and should be made between the worthy goal of ensuring a range of opinions in serious policy discussions and enduring without remark the off-the-cuff observations, casual analysis and general trash-talking of one candidate about others. And finally, the simple act of announcing does not automatically entitle any candidate to universal respect across the spectrum of Democratic voters. Given the untold damage caused over the past six years by the abject failure of many Democrats to raise their voices against Bush outrages--and the actions of Dems like Biden that actually furthered GOP goals at the expense of the majority of Americans--a flat objection to such people's presidential aspirations is not only forgivable, but commendable, in my view.

While I have long admired the discipline of the GOP in getting each other's backs on moving legislation and forming policy, their total refusal to call their own on unacceptable behavior--especially when committed at the expense of another of their own--always struck me as significantly unethical politicking.

I am not clear on how failing to call one of our guys on his patent condescension toward another good-as-announced Democratic candidate--not to mention his brash dismissal of two other formally announced Dem contenders--is "encouraging" all our voices. It does seem, however, that since cultivating an eclectic chorus is your stated goal, you might accomplish that more handily by not mocking your ideological compatriots as "vastly experienced, wise, and uber sophisticated liberal intelligen[ts]ia" when they register perfectly defensible protests about one candidate's treatment of another of our guys.

For what it's worth, I have similarly criticized Obama for his speeches blaming unspecified Democrats for their supposed hostility to religion and lack of a unified strategy. Perhaps you would also call my comments in that case a firing squad action. I can't agree.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Charles Warren: As a Harvard Law School graduate OF COURSE he knows how to use the English language effectively.

Disregarding Obama in particular, and referring to
Harvard Law School graduates in general, I must note that "effective" is not necessarily articulate (particularly in legal matters).

Obama isn't any more 'articulate' than most other Senators.

Given that a commonly accepted definition of articulate is "expressing oneself readily, clearly, or effectively", saying that he's no more articulate than most senators is pretty damning criticism.

Posted by: alex on January 31, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

"The Indianapolis Colts' front office only just heard about his appearance as "Guest of Honor" at the Indiana amily Institute's Family & Friends Banquet, and while their spokesperson had no official comment, she implied that the owner was none too pleased about this particular extracurricular activity."

Tony Dungy is, like most blacks, a fundamentalist Christian who accepts that when God calls something an 'abomination', He means precisely what He says. If this offends you, tough.

"For what it's worth, I have similarly criticized Obama for his speeches blaming unspecified Democrats for their supposed hostility to religion"

Supposed ? It's rather blatant, isn't it ? We blacks despise the hostility to religion among white liberals.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I can think of several senators who it would be an abomination to characterize as "articulate."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 31, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

If this offends you, tough.

No "tough" about it. Dungy can say what he wants and we can complain about it to the NFL all we want. Ain't America grand?

Supposed ? It's rather blatant, isn't it ? We blacks despise the hostility to religion among white liberals.

Who's this "we," white man?

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

"To refuse to see the racial context of his remark is to be hide behind evasions, like trying to distinguish between 'articulate' and 'he talks so nice'. Middle class blacks have heard it often enough to recognize immediately where it is coming from. Praise that you don't talk or act like 'those people' and are exceeding very low expectations." - Charles Warren

Talk of evasions coming from someone who still hasn't answered the question put to him. You dodged it by saying that Obama was unremarkable. But, please, indulge me. How can I express my admiration of Obama's captivating oratory skills, without causing you offense? I most certainly want to avoid offense, if that's possible. Can you help me out? Just pretend you think Obama's worthy of it for a second...because that's what seemed to prevent you from considering my question in the first place.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Who's this "we," white man?"

Well, your 'we' obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with black people. My "we" is the mainstream of fundamentalist Christian black people who frankly have more in common on cultural matters with James Dobson than with the ACLU. I don't know if you have ever been in a black neighborhood before, but they do tend to have lots and lots of churches in them and that is for a reason.

Obviously you are more loyal to the gay lobby than to the black community so I discount the possibility that you are black at all or in any meaningful way.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Dismayed Liberal, why should I teach you how to avoid causing offence ? Of what interest is that to you at all ?

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

We all have our crosses to bear (can a Jew even say that? I haven't burst into flames yet, so apparently so...) I have an uncle who has found anti-semitic content in every exchange he has engaged in since 1946, even with his Rabbi.

Someone people simply live to be offended, and I have decided I am happy to oblige, and I don't give a fuck who they are, what color their skin, what creed they espouse or any other damned thing. If you want to take offense, by god, I am an equal opportunity offender.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 31, 2007 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not Charles Warren, Dismayed, but I'd suggest that "Obama has captivating oratory skills" is singularly unlikely to be mistaken for "he's so articulate," particularly since they, you know, don't mean the same thing. One means that someone is an extraordinarily good speaker by any measure, as Obama is; the other that someone has a basic proficiency in the language. See the difference?

By the way, I disagree with Charles Warren that inarticulate senators are rare. They're a dime a dozen. But Swift Loris' unconvincing HuffPo cite notwithstanding, this is not a word that gets regularly--or ever--applied to most white politicians who can form a sentence.

Charles Warren, your spelling and punctuation indicate you were educated in part of the British commonwealth. Which part?

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

That seems to have shut our little imposter right up, doesn't it?

Well, shushietime for "Bubba," as I was just hilariously called in another thread. Night, all.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Dismayed Liberal,

You could say that he is an impressive orator, you could say that he is one of the most eloquent members of the Senate, you could say that he handles his high flown rhetoric even better than Senator Byrd, you could say that he is well know for having given one of the best speeches of the last Democratic convention, you could say that his speaking style is personable, honest and open (which implicitly contrasts with the expected speaking styles of politicians), you could say that he has a talent for moving a crowd, you could say that he is exceptionally good at one on one politics, you could say (if you were Biden) "unlike me, he doesn't stick his foot in his mouth every time he opens it."

If you think his speech making rises above that of other presidential candidates, surely you can kind find a better descriptor than 'articulate,' and you might even settle on one that isn't racially loaded.

Posted by: Charles S on January 31, 2007 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

I an second generation Jamaican.

So much for being an 'impostor'.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

"I mean, you got the first, sorta, mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Isn't that true?

Posted by: things on January 31, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Charles, you are quickly demonstrating that you have nothing to teach to anyone. But I thought you would evade yet again, so I guess I'm guilty of posing a set-up question to you.

shortstop, point taken about the description. The second go-round was more emphatic. But I don't share your view as to the meaning of "articulate". I don't think it means to be able to form sentences with proper grammar. I think it means to have precision with language, so that you can communicate complex ideas clearly and economically, far more than what your definition suggests. Perhaps I'm loading the word up too much.

Either way, I'm glad you agree Obama does stand out in the Senate for his oratory talents. Saying someone is average in that crowd is faint praise indeed.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

I have learned, Dismayed Liberal, that it does no good to try to explain anything to white people who have every intention of remaining ignorant.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

ar·tic·u·late /adj., n. v. / Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[adj., n. ahr-tik-yuh-lit; v. ahr-tik-yuh-leyt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, verb, -lat·ed, -lat·ing, noun
–adjective

1. uttered clearly in distinct syllables.
2. capable of speech; not speechless.
3. using language easily and fluently; having facility with words: an articulate speaker.
4. expressed, formulated, or presented with clarity and effectiveness: an articulate thought.

OK, so I see how using it in the first and second contexts could be seen as patronizing, but as I just explained, I was certainly judging the word based on meaning #4.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Let me correct myself...OK, so I see how using it in the first and second contexts WOULD BE patronizing...

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on January 31, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Articulate (not equal to) "basic proficiency in the language"

Comprehensible (equal to) "basic proficiency in the language."

If Biden had said "Obama is comprehensible," it would have meant one thing. Instead he praised Obama's extraordinary grasp of spoken language.

Outrage! (i don't buy it.)

[Note to everyone]: Obama is more articulate than you.

Posted by: Absent Observer on January 31, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

"I have learned, Dismayed Liberal, that it does no good to try to explain anything to white people who have every intention of remaining ignorant."

Especially if you're one of them, eh?

Posted by: hagley gap on January 31, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Have we really devolved to this point? I am offended that this is even an issue. Are we going to start vetting compliments? Jesus Christ! I do believe that some of the the thinner skinned would file lawsuits if they were exposed to what passes for a compliment on a trauma team.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 31, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Especially if you're one of them, eh?"

Fascinating, isn't it, how uncomfortable white liberals are when blacks question their motives. But then again that rarely happens since white liberal boards tend to have few or no black posters.

Naturally if they can tell themselves that I'm not black it makes it a whole lot easier for them.

If fools like you or Biden wish to tell yourselves that every black person in America didn't recognize immediately the patronizing insult, you are kidding yourselves.

Posted by: Charles Warren on January 31, 2007 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Insult without intent. Gotta love it.

I tell my students every semester that I want them to be concise and articulate in their answers and their written responses.

I will not be changing my instructions on my syllabus in light of this thread because that is precisely what I mean to say. There is no soft bigotry intended nor implied, and if you have a problem with it, you own it. It's your problem, not mine.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Some of your readers don't get it. They view Senator Biden's comments as a statement about the man Barack Obama A minority reading these comments views it as as a statement about a race of people African Americans. If you took Biden's same words and substituted Hispanic American, Jewish American, Polish American, Arab American or Gay American instead of African American I bet many of the same readers would see these statements in a different light. Race and ethnicity are always a minefield and a politician enters there at their own risk.

Posted by: aline on February 1, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

I'm an American. I happen to be a Jew, but I'm an American; and that is all that matters. Every other descriptive that accurately applies to me is secondary.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

It's always been an issue for us white liberals (WL's). We think we've cornered the market on decent social behavior, when really we're just being reactionary. WL's are the people who will tell you "This is appropriate and that's inappropriate," instead of saying what they really mean: "I like this and I don't like that." Who do we think we are, dictating the rules of conduct when no one's cornered that market.

Charles Warren, you need to read Romans 14-15. If you have an opinion on what words are permissible, then keep it to yourself. I don't look down on you because you can't use certain words, and you can't condemn me because I do use certain words. And no one is insulting Obama. To the contrary, people are praising him with that word. So stop living for yourself alone. I'm not going to erase from my vocabulary one of the most meaningful words in the English language because it offends you. Sorry that it does offend you, but I don't intend to offend you, so drop it.

Posted by: Absent Observer on February 1, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Fascinating, too, how much white liberals resent the idea of blacks questioning their right to decide the cultural agenda of the Democratic Party. As if black people are supposed to be the foot soldiers of white latte liberalism. As if we are not supposed to notice or mind when white liberals snicker about the stupid 'fundies' who believe in the 'Flying Spaghetti Monster'.

The thought that one of your 'coloreds' might not accept your innate moral and intellectual superiority was intolerable to you Dismayed Liberal, Blue Girl, Shortstop, and Hagley Gap so I had to be dismissed as some 'outside agitator'.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 1, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

The only people who have to accept my intellectual superiority are my students. you do overstate your perceived importance to me and my life.

I looked back over some of your past posts, dating back to the summer. You are not exactly one who is in our camp anyway.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Charles Warren, you need to read Romans 14-15. If you have an opinion on what words are permissible, then keep it to yourself. I don't look down on you because you can't use certain words, and you can't condemn me because I do use certain words. And no one is insulting Obama. To the contrary, people are praising him with that word. So stop living for yourself alone. I'm not going to erase from my vocabulary one of the most meaningful words in the English language because it offends you. Sorry that it does offend you, but I don't intend to offend you, so drop it."

This is not Charles Warren vs Joe Biden. This is every educated black American who has at one point or another had 'articulate' or 'you talk so nice' thrown at him vs Joe Biden. I know that you white liberals don't like to question your motives very much but it is perfectly obvious to us what was meant.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 1, 2007 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

"I looked back over some of your past posts, dating back to the summer. You are not exactly one who is in our camp anyway."

We blacks could not care less about the 'camp' of white latte cultural liberalism. Our 'camp' is socioeconomic and driven by a deeply religious culture.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 1, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

When I have a latte with my friend and co-worker Sharina tomorrow between classes, I will delight her with the tale of how you deign to speak for her. She makes me look conservative, BTW.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

My final post on this topic, then off to bed - I have an 8:00 o'clock in the morning.

It makes no sense to classify any group of people as a single voting block, and I never defended that strategy. There are many factors that one must consider, and race is but one. Some people are religious and some are not in every race. Religion, when espoused is not a monolithic entity that brings everyone under one umbrella. What rung one occupies on the economic ladder, level of education, profession, all these things contribute.

To be fair, I will ask my friend about the use of "articulate" tomorrow and see what she says. If she rolls her eyes, however, I will know it's sound and fury signifying nothing.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

No, this is Charles Warren vs "articulate." If the word bothers you, you'll have to suck it up - because it's being used as a complete compliment.

It hurts my heart that my ancestors enslaved Africans, but I'm not walking on egg-shells about it. It's a blunt reality that has had residual effects through history to this day, not something to tip-toe around nicely. And you want to see me dancing through the tulips, instead of accepting my apology (for something I didn't do but have nonetheless benefited from) and moving forward with whatever business you and I can make. Or is your bitterness really that delicious?

Posted by: Absent Observer on February 1, 2007 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Okay - really my last post. Maybe I don't have the requisite "white guilt" because all four of my grandparents were immigrants and my families history in America goes back only to 1909?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

Oops. Typo. 1919 is the year my first grandparent arrived on these shores, not 1909.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

"I still think this comment indicates that Biden has a problem with his mouth..."

Mouths don't operate alone or even independently. They are connected to brains. Driven by brains, actually. Which means that Biden has a problem with his brain.

Which we all knew.

Posted by: bob on February 1, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Charles Warren: "We blacks despise the hostility to religion among white liberals."

Speaking only for myself, white liberal that I am, I can only offer a few random thoughts about this subject.

I take great pains to distinguish between faith and religion.

Faith instills in one a life-long quest for personal enlightenment, and a belief that he or she can always be a better person tomorrow than they are today.

Conversely, religious fundamentalism -- being it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Shintoism or whatever -- all too frequently inoculates its adherents with the false notion that their personal beliefs endow them with an inherent superiority over most everyone else, thus entitling them to pass judgment.

The greatest crimes against humanity in world history were committed by persons who were certain they had their God's blessing for their deeds.

Nobody is "hostile" to any particular religion, unless that religion first proves "hostile" to them.

Sometimes I think that many fundamentalists wear their religion on their sleeves because there is no room for faith in their hearts.

Gays and lesbians can no more change their genetically-determined sexual orientation than a black man can his skin pigment. That is simply scientific fact.

In a secular society that strives for social harmony amongst its inhsabitants, scientific fact must trump religious certitude. And as you yourself said, "If this offends you, tough." Deal with it.

Just as I don't have the right to interfere with your right to worship as you choose, you do NOT have the right to impose -- constitutionally, statutorily or otherwise -- the tenets of your religion upon others who may not necessarily subscribe to your particular beliefs.

A few select verses from the Book of Leviticus, when taken out of context from the Bible, are simply not a rational basis for constitutionally-imposed discrimination upon 8-12% of the nation's population.

White people once used select passages of the Bible as their justification for the subjugation of people of color, i.e. slavery and colonialism, the same way fundamentalists use the same good book to condemn gays and lesbians as "an abomination". I would offer that both are perverse interpretations of God's word, and are in and of themselves the true "abomination".

The God I learned about as a schoolchild certainly wouldn't smile approvingly upon the misguided efforts of self-righteous people whose personal insecurity about their own lives fuels their "religious" fervor (see Haggard, the Rev. Ted). Such fervor only nurtures long-standing personal grudges and / or irrational hatred toward those whom they desire to perceive as different from themselves.

Good night to all.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 1, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Paging Neil Kinnock's speech writer. Would Neil Kinnock's speech writer please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Apparently, there's no more white courtesy, thank you.

Posted by: Kenji on February 1, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary is a woman. She is not a particularly charming person. She's already lost my vote. I'll wait till the Democratic convention before I make up my mind who is a viable candidate to help
our country back from the abyss of the Bush years.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 31, 2007 at 8:39 PM

Given how McAuliffe and the party bosses will try to make everything as easy for Hillary as possible by frontloading the primary system (every party's nightmare in the television era is a convention that goes beyond the first ballot and is no longer nicely packaged), I hate to tell you this, Tom: By the time of the convention, it will be way too late. If you oppose her, get in another candidate's camp now. The Edwards people could use someone like you.

Posted by: Vincent on February 1, 2007 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

Dismayed Liberal, Blue Girl, Shortstop, and Hagley Gap so I had to be dismissed as some 'outside agitator'.

Oh, "outside agitator" gives you way too much credit. I'm dismissing you as a silly conservative, probably white, making it up as he goes along. Thanks for the laughs when I busted you for coming from the commonwealth, BTW; instead of copping to hailing from a far more statistically likely place for a person of any race, you flailed around for a while looking for something that sounded really, really black to you. Well, you might have said Barbados or Montserrat, I suppose, but harder to check facts if questioned.

You might be black, I suppose. It hardly matters when your overriding identity is that of a complete ass. Since the explanation of why Biden's words were ridiculous and condescending doesn't require a black person to make the argument, your main contributions to this thread are religious arrogance and homophobia.

Hope you're not too cold in your adopted homeland! Brrrr!

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2007 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

I have to admit I had no idea black people find the application of "articulate" to a black person to be racist or demeaning. As I use the term, it doesn't just connote ability to use language more or less correctly. It connotes a high, i.e., unusual, degree of fluency. I can see how it can be used condescendingly, but if blacks generally assume that any white person who applies it to a black person is doing that, they're probably making a lot of mistakes.

And "I went to law school, so why wouldn't I be articulate" is just wrong, as I use the term. I have a good deal more education than most lawyers, but it would be comical to call me articulate. I can make myself understood, but I speak very haltingly, with convoluted syntax, mumble, frequently have to search for words, and so forth: not articulate.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on February 1, 2007 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Wait, how does this change what he said at all? He's still commending a black man for being "clean." Imagine that! A black man who isn't dirty!

I still don't understand why so many white people are willing to bend over backwards to excuse obviously racist remarks.

Posted by: rufus t. fyrfly on February 1, 2007 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Clean" means lots of things, rufus. I really doubt Biden meant that Obama wipes his ass and doesn't show up with dirt under his fingernails. How about "no ethics problems"? "No political baggage from a long Senate career"?

Posted by: SqueakyRat on February 1, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

For starters, Charles Warren, most African-American are not fundamentalists. That's Lie No. 1. Most white American liberals are religeous. There's your Lie No. 2. This is simple statistics. Let me guess: You are so virtuous, even your lies and smears are virtuous. And you are a bigot.

Posted by: MaxGowan on February 1, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Biden said what he said - and if we go with his racially motivated statements in the past concerning people from India, we can say he has a problem with race.

Those who slammed George Allen are now defending Joe Biden. You are hypocrites.

I think Biden was trying to be his typical "smartest guy in the room," and made a dumb statement. I think Allen was angered and wanted to insult the person he didn't like with creativity - and used macaca.

So Biden isn't a racist as far as I can tell, and neither can that statment be made about Allen. Robert Byrd belonged to the KKK he is a racist and always will be.

I do hope this gets hung around Biden's neck for the rest of his life.

Posted by: Orwell on February 1, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

There you go again, Orwell. Allen made a calculated racial slur - as he had, it turns out, his entire life. You omit the fascination with the Confederate flag, the unrelenting bigoted remarks brought forth from his youth, etc. ad nauseum. Allen revealed himself to the world as a bigot and bully. Biden has no such record, more diarrea of the mouth and constipation of the brain. Oh, and Byrd has spent a lifetime trying to atone for his admitted sins of his youth. He even notes that his association with the KKK will be on his tombstone. You might try to emulate that yourself.

Posted by: MaxGowan on February 1, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Jackasses and useful idiots come in all races. Apparently "Charles Warren" fits that mold nicely.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

And Rufus makes another hit for his Google list. You do get around - The anti-racist gadfly. Funny thing taking the moniker of a Marx character - Love the Marx movies, but many of them could not be filmed today because of the typical 1930s racist bits used by them.

Clean in the sense that he does not have the William Jefferson baggage.

Posted by: stupid git on February 1, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK
Wait, how does this change what he said at all? He's still commending a black man for being "clean."

No, look, he's ticking off a list of the things that make Obama a "storybook" candidate:

1. He's the first black Presidential candidate seen as "mainstream", rather than "fringe".
2. He is articulate.
3. He is clean (no obvious political/ethical baggage).
4. He is nice-looking.

All those are things that make him a storybook candidate. That's what Biden is saying.

I still don't understand why so many white people are willing to bend over backwards to excuse obviously racist remarks.

How can you tell people's race over the internet? Or are you just assuming that because people don't see it as racist, they must, ipso facto, be white?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Now everyone is arguing about what the meaning of "is" is.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 1, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think the bigger point is that the 1st thing that comes out of Biden's mouth after announcing his Presidency: Are negative comments about Obama and Hillary. Man,, doesn�t he have enough material to go after the republicans with.

I never understood this - Just because a reporter asks you a (loaded) question doesn�t mean you have to answer it. And any idiot that has survived tough job interviews knows to spin the answer to their advantage. Jees man how many years in the Senate and Joe has no Idea how to handle an interview. You are allowed to pause for a second to THINK before responding!!!!!!!

Posted by: skibumlee on February 1, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Oh, and Byrd has spent a lifetime trying to atone for his admitted sins of his youth. He even notes that his association with the KKK will be on his tombstone. You might try to emulate that yourself."

His lifetime? You mean like when he fought tirelessly to stop the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Or a decade ago when he supported the federal DOMA, showing that even if he has changed his mind about blacks now that it is too late to do any good, he still has not learned lesson of bigotry?

Posted by: Decnavda on February 1, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

You know, i can appreciate the bewilderment here of people who may not have thought through the "articulate" "compliment" before, but what is amazing me here is the defensiveness. Biden is not Byrd. Byrd has appologized, but his offense deserved more - some form of attonement. (Supporting the 1964 Civil Rights Act WOULD have qualified, but alas..) Biden said something stupid that ranged from inexcusable cluelessness to subconsious racism. It desrved an appology, and he has done so. Right now, I am a lot more dismayed by all of the liberals here defending him than by Biden himself.

Posted by: Decnavda on February 1, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Point taken, Decnavda. My main beef was putting Byrd in the same category as Allen. Look at all those great Southern Democrats who voted against the Civil Rights Act of '64 and the Voting Rights
Act of '65 - including the great Sam Ervin and William Fullbright - in order to keep their seats. And for the record, I'm no Biden fan. His remarks were terrible. He's not going anywhere anyway.

Posted by: MaxGowan on February 1, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

MaxGowan you mention nothing about Biden's previous remarks concerning the Indian population owning 7/11s. Is there a pattern in his behavior? We don't know because the Democrat part and the liberals in this country do not have the curiosity to look into his past. They are afraid it might cost them their power in congress, and that must be kept at all costs.

Byrd was a KKK leader in his adulthood. Not youth, adulthood. I believe he mentioned the "n" word on national television just a few years ago- even though he was "pretending" to use it about white people. He still uses the term. Somehow that isn't a problem because he is liberal and said "I am sorry."

Not to mention Steny Hoyer and his racial slurs. I wonder if Michael Richards is a liberal?

You are comparing that to what Allen said in his youth? Allen was ditched by the Republican party because of his comments - the Democrat party promotes liberals who use racial slurs.

My point is proven again by you; liberals are hypocrites. Cry outrage when it is a Republican and play it down when it is a liberal.

Posted by: Orwell on February 1, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell, have you even read Orwell? Anyone who claims as you did that Biden used the equivalent of maccaca is a liar from the get-go. Anybody who mimics Bush's slur "Democrat" has a credibility problem. You "believe" Byrd mentioned the "n" word. Nice. Oh and claims to know what "most liberals" are thinking. Do you actually know any Black people? You are a walking and talking smear-fest. Be gone, troll.

Posted by: MaxGowan on February 1, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

am an attorney. If someone called me "articulate", I would not *NOT* feel complimented. OF COURSE I'm articulate, I made it through law school, why wouldn't I be?

So did Dan Quayle.

Posted by: Matt on February 1, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

since this is still sadly raging on, and since many still miss the point let me break it down for you (i also posted this at huffpost):

the comma makes it worse.

without the comma you have the patently ridiculous statement that obama is the first articulate black person which no one really believed biden intended.

with the comma you get an indictment of the entire black community which is what the backhanded compliment "articulate" has always meant.

seriously, pull your head out of your arses. what biden said is offensive and hurtful. to deny that is to deny the sincere feelings of millions of people who immediately recognized the statement for what it was and always has been.

the eventual democratic nominee will depend on the continued support of the black community and statements like biden's and the knee jerk defenses of him are not making any friends in this crucial and often taken for granted bloc...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK
the comma makes it worse.

What comma? (Anyway, its an informal, spoken statement without an official script, so any punctuation inserted is some listeners guess as to how it should be punctuated.)

without the comma you have the patently ridiculous statement that obama is the first articulate black person which no one really believed biden intended.

Um, no.

The context in which Biden describes Obama as the "first sorta mainstream African-American" is in discussing Presidential candidates.

It is quite clear that what Biden is saying is simply this:

Among Presidential candidates, Obama is:

  1. The first African-American seen as a "sorta mainstream" candidate (versus Sharpton, Jackson, at all, who, fairly or not, were perceived as, and treated by the media out of the gate as, fringey candidates),

  2. Articulate,

  3. Bright,

  4. "Clean" (the oddest term; the obvious interpretation here is "without baggage", though Biden's explanations after-the-fact suggest he was trying to get across the idea of "fresh", having new ideas), and

  5. Nice Looking.

All of which, Biden says, make Obama a “storybook” candidate (by which he clearly means a media darling.) All of that is perfectly complimentary. Of course, Biden goes on to say why he thinks Obama isn't going to win despite all those “storybook” qualities, and I don't think its entirely, or even at all, accidental that the media is focussing attention on a bizarre attempt to blow Biden's description of Obama's strengths into a racist attack rather than his criticism of, particularly, the media's favorite 2008 candidates.

The media has decided that the 2008 Democratic Primary is all about Clinton vs. Obama, and anything that interferes with that narrative is unwelcome.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

he doesn't say "candidate" in his statement and there is quite the discussion raging over the comma placement. and even if you do grant that he's talking about candidate obama, you still don't see a problem with telling a black person they are articulate? you still don't see how a compliment to one is in fact a relative slap to others at the same time?

are you so obtuse you don't recognize how this statement has been used for hundreds of years and that it has loaded meanings for millions even if you are not one of them?

c'mon cmdicely, you're smarter than that. stop being coy; it makes you look like you're defending your own racism rather than biden's...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell: Byrd was a KKK leader in his adulthood. Not youth, adulthood. I believe he mentioned the "n" word on national television just a few years ago- even though he was "pretending" to use it about white people. He still uses the term. Somehow that isn't a problem because he is liberal and said "I am sorry."

It is a problem and it has been dealt with.

He said he was sorry and he has consistently (since his initial rejection of civil rights laws) supported civil rights and other legislation favorable to blacks.

On the other hand, people like Trent Lott insist they've done nothing wrong, only apologize after being pressured for days and weeks, if at all, and continue to support legislation that puts blacks in the back of the bus.

Real racists, like the late Strom Thurmond, moved to their natural constituency (conservative and the GOP) a long time ago.

The real question is why you equate Byrd's actions from decades ago with the actions of people like Lott today and the few slip-of-the-tongues from Byrd with the consistent and intentional degradation from conservatives like Lott?

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"am an attorney. If someone called me "articulate", I would not *NOT* feel complimented. OF COURSE I'm articulate, I made it through law school, why wouldn't I be?

So did Dan Quayle."

Exactly. If I refer to a teenager as not articulate, I am not insulting him, I am pointing out something he needs to work on, because what you expect from a teenager? When I say Quayle is not articulate, I *AM* insulting him. As lawyer, he is not meeting the minimum requirements for his position.

Posted by: Decnavda on February 1, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Google_This -
If anyone here claims that Biden is as bad as Byrd is as bad as Lott is as bad as Thurmond is as bad as David Duke, I will disagree. I have not seen that. What I have seen is a some people saying Biden said something probably subconsiously racist and for which he should (and has) appologize, and others acting like we called him David Duke.

Posted by: Decnavda on February 1, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

travy: . . . you still don't see a problem with telling a black person they are articulate?

No.

I've never heard anyone say that whites are uniformly articulate, as that term is commonly used, that is, to have great skill at speaking clearly and informatively.

Nor have I ever heard anyone accuse blacks of being uniformly inarticulate, although I'm sure that has been a claim from some at times.

And clearly not all politicians are articulate - just look at Kerry and Biden.

So, I fail to see how this is an insult, except by people who've placed an extra chip on top of the chip already on their shoulder.

Obama Barack is a polished, well-spoken and handsome politician who appears to carry little ethical or other controversial baggage, such as alleged flirtations with communism (King), anti-semitism (Jackson), or uncle-tomism (Thomas), a combination of traits that hasn't been seen previously in any serious black candidate for president and in fact probably hasn't been seen in any significant presidential contender since Robert Kennedy.

This is what Biden said, so inarticulately, and I fail to see the insult.

Stick a fork in your race-baiting. Its done.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

google_this-

wow, sorry you have to live in a country so infested with uppity blacks with chips on their shoulders. how dare they find contempt in the gracious praise of white folks who are just trying to point out how far they've all come since they were in chains. if only they'd keep quiet with their cries of persecution you could go on living your life of undue priviledge.

google this: institutionalized racism...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

What I have seen is a some people saying Biden said something probably subconsiously racist and for which he should (and has) appologize, and others acting like we called him David Duke.

There is a difference between racism and bias.

There is a difference between conscious bias and unconscious bias.

We ALL have unconscious biases.

We are ALL aware of conscious biases.

We are not ALL racists.

But, you can't unlearn something. If you grew up in an environment full of racial epithets and where alleged racial characteristics were repeatedly stated in your presence, you absorbed it and you can't unlearn it. You can overcome it; you can consciously decide that these things you learned were incorrect, but you can't unlearn them, you can't remove them from your mind. If someone taught you that the country Greece was spelled Grease over and over as a child, you can't unlearn that; you can recognize that what you were taught is not correct and concentrate on spelling it correctly now that you also know the correct spelling, but you cannot unlearn what you were taught. There is no process for unlearning except forgetting and you cannot consciously and deliberately forget something.

Racism is the deliberate, knowing, purposeful adoption of the premise that another race is inferior.

Biden is not racist.

He may have biases that slip through from time to time, as we all do, but that is not racism.

There are too many people who want to scream racism and racist every time someone exhibits unconscious bias.

This is counterproductive and evil and I have less tolerance for those demagogues who exaggerate such incidents to further their own conscious and unconscious biases or even their own hidden racism than I have for overt and loud-mouthed racists who are at least honest about their own motivations.

Biden has done nothing that hints of racism.

Anyone who is calling him one is as bad as a real racist in my book.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, travy, google these: asshole, race-baiter, demagogue.

Or, hey, just go look in a mirror.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

nice comeback google_this!

and i'm so glad you've decided that bias against entire groups of people is cool. way to care!

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

. . . how dare they find contempt in the gracious praise of white folks who are just trying to point out how far they've all come . . .

Well, I guess I can't vote for Obama then, since no non-black person can possibly indicate acceptance of a black person as a leader because that would be indicating gracious praise for their abilities by someone not worthy of giving them gracious praise.

And that's what it boils down to: for your rant to make sense, you must believe that every single white in this country MUST hold the belief that they are better than even the most skilled and talented black person; or alternatively, that every single black in this country MUST hold the belief that every single white in this country believes they are better than the most skilled and talented black person.

I don't call that socially responsible or tolerant, I'd call that pathetic and racist, since it means you have consciously adopted the premise that all whites are inferior in their ability to justly and objectively evaluate the skills and talents of any black person - you are, in no uncertain terms, ascribing a particular trait to all whites.

Indeed, you are very effectively stating that no white person in this country is worthy or capable of having an opinion on the talents and skills of any black person.

Nice.

Instead of looking up "institutionalized racism" why don't you look up "individualized racism" by staring at your reflection.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK
he doesn't say "candidate" in his statement

Oh, for the sake of all that is good and holy: he was discussing his Presidential announcement and discussing the candidates perceived ahead of him in the Democratic field (he also made comments about Clinton and Edwards). If you haven't learned that language must be interpreted in the light of context, can you please return to elementary school and leave the grown-ups to discuss adult issues?

and even if you do grant that he's talking about candidate obama, you still don't see a problem with telling a black person they are articulate?

Um, no. I don't see a problem with saying that a Presidential candidate has, as a strength, the fact that they are articulate, whether they are black, white, or green.

you still don't see how a compliment to one is in fact a relative slap to others at the same time?

Look, if he said that Obama was articulate relative to other blacks, implying that blacks were normally not articulate and that Obama could not be considered articulate except by lowering the bar by comparing him to other blacks, that would be an insult both to Obama through a backhanded compliment, and to other blacks more generally. But that's not what he said; the only implicit comparison to other blacks was his characterization of Obama as the first "sorta mainstream" black Presidential candidate, which was a comparison of how he was perceived by others, and, franky, one which is quite hard to dispute (Obama's response, pointing to Jackson, Sharpton, and Chisholm is appropriately humble, but no one can seriously characterize them as being perceived as being mainstream the way Obama is, even if they may have deserved it.)


are you so obtuse you don't recognize how this statement has been used for hundreds of years and that it has loaded meanings for millions even if you are not one of them?

No, I don't see how this statement has ever been used before. I am quite aware of how other statements which are quite different have been used in the way you describe, of course, but that's a different issue.

c'mon cmdicely, you're smarter than that. stop being coy; it makes you look like you're defending your own racism rather than biden's...

I'm not defending anyone's racism. And, really, the idea that as a mixed-race black (1/4), native american (1/4), and white (1/2) American I harbor some kind of deep-seated racial animosity to mixed-race black (1/2) and white (1/2) Americans, well, its possible, I guess, but not likely.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

travy: and i'm so glad you've decided that bias against entire groups of people is cool

And I'm so glad you've adopted the tactic of our Dunce in Chief and his conservative minions to attribute statements to others that they have not made!

Way to go!

Pretty soon, you too will be able to follow in the footsteps of Karl Rove and not miss a slimy chance to use defamation against your opponents!

Cool!

We need someone slimy to kick around now that Karl's star is descending.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

your strawman is lame, google_this. if biden had said "eloquent" there would have been no outrage whatsoever... and you're still denying the legitimate feelings of millions by reflexively dismissing their very real experiences with being told how "articulate" they are by people who are trying to point out how they aren't like all those other unfortunate blacks.

look in the mirror? i think you need to stop looking in the mirror and check out the big world around you that is full of real people with real experiences and feelings that might be at odds with your own world view but no less legitimate...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

travy: and i'm so glad you've decided that bias against entire groups of people is cool.

Well, you must think its cool since you have a bias against the entire population of American whites.

And you must be pretty lame intellectually if you believe that it is possible for any human being to entirely escape bias.

Maybe you should look up bias while you are looking up that definition of "individual racism."

You know, "racism" is not confined to just white people.

That may be a hard concept for you, but I'm sure you can overcome your bias if you study hard.

I'm not so sure you can overcome your racism, though, since you seem to consciously enjoy it so much.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

perhaps it's different here in the multicultural urban environment in which i live and work, but what biden said would never have been said by anyone i know and would be roundly criticized as insensitive, biased and indeed racist even if only subconsciously.

seriously, given all the problems with race relations we've had in this country is it so hard to acknowledge the feelings of others on this matter as legitimate?

a little empathy goes a long way...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK
your strawman is lame, google_this.

The only strawman is yours. It certainly is lame, though.


if biden had said "eloquent" there would have been no outrage whatsoever.

Since there was exactly the same type of overwrought, irrational outrage over the "clean" part, and the "bright" part, I somehow dobt that "eloquent" would have been treated any differently by either the hypersensitive idiots feeling what the media tells them they should feel, or the talking heads in the media, if "articulate" had been replaced by "eloquent", "well-spoken", "fluent", "expressive", "lucid", or any of a number of other synonyms.

and you're still denying the legitimate feelings of millions by reflexively dismissing their very real experiences with being told how "articulate" they are by people who are trying to point out how they aren't like all those other unfortunate blacks.

This attempt to generalize your own feelings by asserting without evidence that millions of people not only share your experience (which, with reasonable allowance for variation, they might) but also your bizarre belief that that experience is in any way relevant to what Biden said is revealing: of how deeply you are trapped in a mentality of victimhood and the comforting illusion it provides that every feeling you have is shared by everyone who looks like you.

But maybe its time you grow up, speak for yourself, and stop being an egotistical racist: someone who clearly recognizes that white people vary, but acts as if all black people are identical and just like you.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

travy: . . . if biden had said "eloquent" there would have been no outrage whatsoever.

Well, I guess Barnes and Noble was just all out of the "Acceptable Terms for White People to Use When Praising Black People" dictionary.

And I still can't find that law that says "black Americans control all aspects of the English language and get to decide the meaning and significance of every word in the dictionary and they may do so from any point of bias or black racism, no matter how vile and unfair."

Maybe then need to put a note in Merriam-Webster that says "articulate" is a slur "when used to praise articulate blacks, but not when used to praise articulate whites."

Now, mine doesn't currently say that but maybe yours does?

Q. What do you say to a black man who is articulate, but not eloquent?

A. You lie and say he's eloquent.

Q. What do you say to a white man who is articulate, but not eloquent?

A. You tell the truth and say he's articulate.

Gotta lie to protect the black man from being offended.

Hmmmm.

Now, which is more racists, to accurately describe a black man's talents or to believe that the black man is too weak minded to handle the truth such that you must lie to him to protect his fragile ego?

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK
perhaps it's different here in the multicultural urban environment in which i live and work

Yeah, I'm sure its a lot different there than in the multicultural urban environment in which I live and work.

but what biden said would never have been said by anyone i know and would be roundly criticized as insensitive, biased and indeed racist even if only subconsciously.

Okay, so you've convinced me that (assuming, arguendo, your description is accurate) that everyone you know are prejudiced bigots who trigger there opinion of words taken in isolation without paying attention to the message and content of what people are saying.

So? Aside from a revealing look at the people you choose to associate with (or at least, how you think of those people), what is this supposed to be saying to me?

seriously, given all the problems with race relations we've had in this country is it so hard to acknowledge the feelings of others on this matter as legitimate?

I really don't see why your irrational prejudices are any more entitled to validation than anyone else's. Yes, sure, maybe they are irrational generalizations from real and significant negative experiences, just as people who distrust all black people and justify that because someone they cared about was, in fact, assaulted by an actual black person have prejudices that stem from real and significant negative experiences.

That doesn't stop them from being irrational prejudices, nor does it warrant them being validated by others. Rather, we have a race relations problem in this country because people, on both sides, have been too willing to legitimize such prejudices, not because they have not been willing enough to do so.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oops. Typo.

Now, which is more racist, to accurately describe a black man's talents or to believe that the black man is too weak minded to handle the truth such that you must lie to him to protect his fragile ego?

I'm breathless for you answer travy!

Just drooling with anticipation!

BTW, more questions:

Would it have been okay if Biden had said "articulate and eloquent" or does the "articulate" trump the use of "eloquent" and render the whole thing racist?

Is there any way for a white person to praise a black person for speaking particularly clearly and informatively on a topic (and we can't use "clearly and informatively" since that is a synomym for "articulate" and equally verbotten)?

If we fail to praise a black person for a clear and informative speech (as in "a political speech - don't want to set you off on another rant!), are we being racist for refusing to acknowledge the talents and skills of the person as a speaker and we hiding seething anger at a black person's success and doing everything possible to avoid given recognition to a black person because that would be admitting he might be our equal or better?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well this seals it. I am never going to pay anyone a compliment ever again. Fuck it. It isn't worth the hassle. I'll just be a known quantity...The redheaded bitch who can't be misjudged as prejudiced because she hates everyone.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

travy: a little empathy goes a long way...

Where's your empathy for me?

No empathy for whites, eh?

How racist of you.

Tell me, if the black community in your area started criticizing you tomorrow for describing a particular black woman as "beautiful", saying it suggests that black women in general are ugly and that calling attention to particular black woman's beauty is racist, would you consider yourself racist because you had used a term that the black community objected to, even though you had no knowledge they would react that way and even though you never meant it in any such way and would you never again refer to a black woman as beautiful?

Still . . . breathless . . .

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

"clean" was a poor choice of words, but i get what he really meant regarding freedom from scandal. "bright", not nearly as loaded but still seems inappropriate for a brilliant ivy league senator. but "articulate" is a compliment usually reserved for young people or those mastering a second language, not a brilliant orator who is 60 years old.

and you guys cry about context, but you're missing the context of the last 100 years where pure outward racism has been replaced by code words like "articulate".

and i don't claim to speak for all blacks, and certainly am not implying that all whites are guilty (strawman?), but i also don't see any blacks stepping forward to defend biden's statement and frankly, think most would agree with me. not all, but most and again, this is only my opinion.

but whatever. you two and others will never be swayed by reason here. but how about simple civility? or would that be ceding too much ground to the black thought police who seek to "control all aspects of the English language and get to decide the meaning and significance of every word" through their "fragile egos"? (again with the strawmen?)

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

RSBG: The redheaded bitch who can't be misjudged as prejudiced because she hates everyone.

Hey, my nephew is a redhead, how dare you call him a bitch!

;-)

Damn, where did travy go, I really wanted answers to my questions.

What's he doing, asking his black friends to crib the answer for him?

Or is he black and they're having a huddle to decide on the answer?

Man, I'm nearly blue waiting for an answer.

BTW, can I call a blue man articulate, is eloquent offensive to blue men, do I have to use well-spoken with blue men, eloquent with black men, and articulate with white men?

I . . . just . . . can't . . . keep . . . track . . . of . . . all . . . the . . . new . . . usage . . . rules . . . arrrrrghhhhhh!

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

if the black community in your area started criticizing you tomorrow for describing a particular black woman as "beautiful", saying it suggests that black women in general are ugly and that calling attention to particular black woman's beauty is racist, would you consider yourself racist because you had used a term that the black community objected to, even though you had no knowledge they would react that way and even though you never meant it in any such way and would you never again refer to a black woman as beautiful?

there aren't any common stereotypes regarding the beauty of black women so, i got no problem showing love for the sisters... now to build on your example if someone said something along the lines of "wow, you're such a good driver, and so even tempered and articulate" we'd have a problem...

but again, this kind of analysis requires real empathy which you seem to be encapable of...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

travy: but how about simple civility?

Yeah, calling me a racist, even by implication, and suggesting that I embody and embrace the plantation mentality with regard to my black friends was really, really, really civil, travy.

Thanks for all your civility.

Now, answer the damn questions.

You seem to have a well-formed, if in my mind idiotic, opinion on all aspects of this issue and with no hesitation to voice them, so why can't you answer?

Really, you shouldn't have any problem answering these questions. They're simple. Just like the issue of "articulate."

Here they are in case you missed them:

Which is more racist, to accurately describe a black man's talents or to believe that the black man is too weak minded to handle the truth such that you must lie to him to protect his fragile ego?

Where can I pick up a copy of "Acceptable Terms for White People to Use When Praising Black People."

What law or social convention says "black Americans control all aspects of the English language and get to decide the meaning and significance of every word in the dictionary."

Where's your empathy for me?

Would it have been okay if Biden had said "articulate and eloquent" or does the "articulate" trump the use of "eloquent" and render the whole thing racist?

Is there any way for a white person to praise a black person for speaking particularly clearly and informatively on a topic (and we can't use "clearly and informatively" since that is a synomym for "articulate" and equally verbotten)?

If we fail to praise a black person for a clear and informative speech (as in "a political speech - don't want to set you off on another rant!), are we being racist for refusing to acknowledge the talents and skills of the person as a speaker and we hiding seething anger at a black person's success and doing everything possible to avoid given recognition to a black person because that would be admitting he might be our equal or better?

If the black community in your area started criticizing you tomorrow for describing a particular black woman as "beautiful", saying it suggests that black women in general are ugly and that calling attention to particular black woman's beauty is racist, would you consider yourself racist because you had used a term that the black community objected to, even though you had no knowledge they would react that way and even though you never meant it in any such way and would you never again refer to a black woman as beautiful?

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Or is he black and they're having a huddle to decide on the answer?

congratulations! you've just graduated to overt racism, but of course you've been there all along haven't you?

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Show me the stereotype, ANYWHERE, that says that blacks are inarticulate.

Some literature (not KKK stuff, either, but real mainstream literature; can even be from decades ago), anything.

Seriously, where can I find a list of black stereotypes?

. . . this kind of analysis requires real empathy which you seem to be encapable . . .

Now, there's the bowl calling the basin white.

Hah, thought you were going to trap me into some racist statement about kettles and pots, eh!?

Only blacks are capable of real empathy, eh, travy?

And all whites are incapable of it, at least all the ones that disagree with you or anyone in the black community that believes one race gets to control the meaning and significance of any word in the English language they choose to focus on.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

but "articulate" is a compliment usually reserved for young people or those mastering a second language, not a brilliant orator who is 60 years old.

Er, no, its not. Surely, it would be no great compliment to describe Obama as articulate in a context where the implicit comparison was to the average person, but when the context is characterizing the strengths that make him, in Biden's words, a &ldquote;storybook&rdquote; candidate, the implicit comparison is to the universe of Presidential candidates. In that context, articulate is high praise for anyone.

and you guys cry about context, but you're missing the context of the last 100 years where pure outward racism has been replaced by code words like "articulate".

No, we're not missing that. But the specific context, that you are ignoring, is necessary to see if the word is being used as a racist code word: by ignoring it, you are indulging in a racist, prejudiced approach to the world.

and i don't claim to speak for all blacks

Yes, when you claim that disagreeing with your characterization of Biden's speech is not merely failing to legitimize your bizarre, irrational view but instead delegitimizing the feelings of millions you are claiming to speak for, if not all black people, certainly millions of them.

but i also don't see any blacks stepping forward to defend biden's statement

How do you see race on the internet? And I guess you are the judge of who is "black enough", I guess being 1/4 black, being seen as black by whites and others, being called nigger and other racist names growing up, having experienced the backhanded compliments that you describe firsthand, being subject to the insinuation by racist white peers that I got opportunities only through "reverse racism" despite having never failed to score out of the 99th percentile in standardized tests, I guess that's not enough of an experience to say that what Biden did was completely fricking different than that kind of racism?

Tell me again why I have to validate your prejudices.

you two and others will never be swayed by reason here.

Its impossible to be "swayed by reason" when none is offered.

but how about simple civility?

Are you offering to try it, rather than your racist presumptions?


Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK
What law or social convention says "black Americans control all aspects of the English language and get to decide the meaning and significance of every word in the dictionary."
Nah, that's not fair. Travy clearly doesn't think that "black Americans control all aspects of the English language..."

He clearly thinks that he controls all aspects of the English language, and that anyone who uses a word that he has ever used in a racist way is, ipso facto, a racist, as is anyone who suggests that the particular use may not be racist even though other people have used the word in a racist context.

"Black Americans" don't seem to really exist for him except as a rhetorical device to avoid discussion, a flag he can wave around to say that if you disagree with him, you are insulting millions.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

travy: congratulations! you've just graduated to overt racism, but of course you've been there all along haven't you?

That's a nice jump!

But my alleged racism can't compare with yours!

If my comments are racist, then you preceded me there by many leagues.

If whites are ubiquitously articulate, or are believed to be naturally articulate by racist whites (and they are all racist according to you), such that referring to the trait of being articulate in blacks is suggesting that it is the exception for blacks, but not whites, and therefore being inarticulate is a characteristic of blacks, then clearly there would never be any need to refer to any white person as articulate; it would be redundant.

Thus, if we can find references to Robert or John Kennedy or any other great white orator as articulate, your theory pretty much goes up in smoke.

LOL.

BTW, you still haven't answered the question of where this stereotype exists.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

I see we can't use the word "huddle" now, presumably because the ranks of professional sports have a greater percentage of blacks than the general population and . . . blah, blah, blah . . . I think you can follow the rest of travy's reasoning.

Still waiting for that dictionary so I can write some responses that don't contain words that offend you . . . which is getting harder and hards.

BTW, if you are having a huddle, then one of you must be a quarterback and since that breaks the stereotype of quaterbacks being white, doesn't that put me back on the side of righteousness?

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK
BTW, if you are having a huddle, then one of you must be a quarterback

Nah, you can have a defensive huddle.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

travy: i think you need to stop looking in the mirror and check out the big world around you that is full of real people with real experiences and feelings that might be at odds with your own world view but no less legitimate...

Really, this is too easy.

So, I'm not a real person and my feelings are not legitimate simply because I don't cater to the linguistical whims of a black man who simply cannot do something simple like point to a well-known source that lists "inarticulate" as a black stereotype.

Come on, travy.

You insist that Biden should know that the use of "articulate" is insulting to blacks and plays into an alleged stereotype of being inarticulate, so it should be less than easy to find something, anything, on the web that can be linked to or even simply described that demonstrates that this stereotype is well-known throughout the land and that no one should be unfamiliar with it.

It can't be that hard if it is so well-known.

It just can't.

So just do it.

Oh, no, an inadvertent reference to Nike which is an inadvertent reference to sports which is an inadvertent slight to travy because he's black and a higher percentage of professional sports players are black and . . . I really can't follow this train of thought anymore, it just hurts my head trying to get through all the twists and turns needed to turn innocent phrases into racist slurs.

Ouch!

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Nah, you can have a defensive huddle.

Damn, should've thought of that.

Now I'm in a fix.

I really am racist.

Because I used huddle and didn't attempt to distinguish between defensive and offensive.

Damn, damn, damn.

I'll get this New English down about the same time as New Math.

But, wait, didn't they abandon New Math?

Ouch! Ouch!

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Link, travy, link to anywhere that lists "inarticulate" as a black stereotype.

At this point, I'll even take a link to an obscure source that nobody knows about, much less Biden.

Posted by: Google_This on February 1, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

google_this, you've got issues dude. look at yourself, you're practically foaming at the mouth over this. it's very simple and it's been explained above by others better than i can but, in parting:

"articulate" is a slight to a man of obama's stature and it's a slight that's been used throughout our history. i realize you'll never grasp this and will continue to think it's part of some black victimhood syndrome, but it's not. and i'm not going to go look for some ridiculous index of common stereotypes you seem to require before you'll believe me, but perhaps you can ask some of your "black friends" what they think.

and with that, i'm back to work which i've been neglecting...

Posted by: travy on February 1, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

"This attempt to generalize your own feelings by asserting without evidence that millions of people not only share your experience (which, with reasonable allowance for variation, they might) but also your bizarre belief that that experience is in any way relevant to what Biden said is revealing: of how deeply you are trapped in a mentality of victimhood and the comforting illusion it provides that every feeling you have is shared by everyone who looks like you."

Fascinating how mad Great White Father liberals like you and Travy get when we question your goodness. Travy doubtless left because it is a complete and total waste of time to ask white people to question their racial attitudes and motives when they obviously do not have the least intention of doing so.

So noticing racism is now, 'racist' ? I'll bet the abolitionists were the real bigots for noticing slavery. Right.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 1, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, no one's going to tip-toe around for fear of bothering you. If you're offended by an obvious compliment, then I'd hate to insult you.

You still haven't read Rom 14-15, have you?

Posted by: Absent Observer on February 2, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

travy: you've got issues dude

Let's see now. You and a boatload of blacks are foaming at the mouth because Biden complimented Obama with the same word he would almost certainly use to compliment John F. Kennedy (because others have), and I'm allegedly foaming at the mouth because you've called me a racist with a plantation mentality out-of-touch with the victimhood of some American blacks, in particular you, soley because I disagree with you and ask that you provide evidence of your claims, and it's me that has issues?

You truly are pathetic.

travy: it's been explained above by others

It hasn't been explained. It has been presented as a conclusory proposition that using "articulate" with regard to a black man is offensive without pointing to any source of evidence that justifies the conclusion (something you continue to refuse to do, probably because you know this is made-up bullcrap). Simply making a claim is not "explaining" it. Maybe you need to look up the explanation of "explain."

travy: "articulate" is a slight to a man of obama's stature

Then, I guess that means that JFK was slighted when he was called articulate:

"An eloquent and articulate speaker, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first Catholic president, the first man of Irish descent to become president and the second youngest man to assume that office."

Clearly you believe that Obama has greater stature than JFK simply because he's a black man.

Which makes you the racist.

travy: i'm not going to go look for some ridiculous index of common stereotypes you seem to require before you'll believe me

Translation: I'm a black man. Therefore, I don't have to provide any evidence to back up my arguments. You must believe me simply because I am a black man and I have said it. My victimhood speaks for itself and, thusly, any claim I make must be true, regardless of evidence or logic. And to require that I present evidence is to oppress me and to be a racist. I am a victim. My debate standards are allowed to be lower than any other debater and I shall not be questioned.

Thanks for clearing that up, travy.

travy: it's a slight that's been used throughout our history.

And yet, you cannot point to a single past example.

ask some of your "black friends" what they think.

Nice scare quotes. Can't get much more racist than implying a white person can't really have any black friends. Or are you implying they are "real blacks", but just "uncle toms"?

Charles Warren: [I]t is a complete and total waste of time to ask white people to question their racial attitudes and motives when they obviously do not have the least intention of doing so.

Assumes, stereotypically and without evidence, all white people need to be asked.

Assumes, stereotypically and without evidence, all white people have racial attitudes and motives that need to be questioned.

Assumes, stereotypically and without evidence, that white people haven't already questioned their attitudes and motives and not found them wanting.

Concludes, stereotypically and without evidence, that because whites refuse to agree with travy, they are unwilling to question and have never questioned their own attitudes and motives and that those motives and attitudes must necessarily be bad (Great White Father liberals).

Shove it Charles.

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK
Fascinating how mad Great White Father liberals like you

Ah, you, like travy, seem to think you can judge people's race over the internet by their views about what is racist: itself, of course, an incredibly racist view, and even more ludicrous in this particular case.

Travy doubtless left because it is a complete and total waste of time to ask white people to question their racial attitudes and motives when they obviously do not have the least intention of doing so.

While I hate to interrupt your racist rant with, you know, facts (especially ones mentioned already in the discussion), but I'm no more "white" than Barack Obama is. But I notice that you used "white" as an insult in two consecutive sentences—and both not even based on actual race but on the racist presumption that different beliefs about racism than yours must be associated with membership in a particular race: way to strike a blow against racism, there.

So noticing racism is now, 'racist' ?

No, making hasty judgements of racism based on the race of the speaker and individual words taken out of the context in which they are presented is racist, not just now, but since the beginning of time, as is presuming that everyone of a particular race must agree with your views of racism, as is presuming that particular disagreement must be associated with a particular different race. That's the racism you and travy have shown here.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 2, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

The handsome, elegant and articulate President [Kennedy] was chiefly responsible for ...

Lyndon Johnson – on one of the most articulate statesmen of our time . . .

Gee, what a slam.

Biden complimented Obama with the same word used to praise JFK and LBJ.

How could Biden be so vile.

The horror!

== List of Inappropriate Words of Praise ==
=== When Speaking About A Black Person ===

(These are derived from the justifications presented above for why "articulate" is inappropriate, namely that it's opposite has been used as a stereotype - see below)

1) articulate/well-spoken (inarticulate has been [allegedly] used by racists as a stereotype, so any word implying a particular black is articulate suggests that blacks as a whole are not, which is playing to the stereotype)

2) beautiful/pretty/handsome/good-looking (ugly has been used consistently by racists as a stereotype of blacks, so any word implying a particular black is beautiful suggests that blacks as a whole are not, which is playing to the stereotype)

3) intelligent/brainy/smart (dumb/unintelligent has been used consistently by racists as a stereotype of blacks, so any word implying a particular black is intelligent suggests that blacks as a whole are not, which is playing to the stereotype)

4) ethical/moral/lawabiding (immoral/criminal/unethical has been used consistently by racists as a stereotype of blacks, so any word implying a particular black is moral suggests that blacks as a whole are not, which is playing to the stereotype)

5) reasoned/logical/clear-headed(emotional/illogical/unreasoning has been used consistently by racists as a stereotype of blacks, so any word implying a particular black is clear-headed suggests that blacks as a whole are not, which is playing to the stereotype)


== Arbitrary List of Appropriate Words ==

1) Eloquent

Not clear why "eloquent" qualifies, since racists have consistently embraced stereotypes that characterize blacks as not eloquent, but remember, travy controls the meaning and significance of any words we might use.

Any others to add, travy?

So, we've cleared some things up.

No white person may praise Obama Barack for being well-spoken, articulate, intelligent, clear-headed, smart, brainy, handsome, ethical, moral, lawabiding, etc., because the opposite of these terms have all been used to stereotype blacks and using any of these words implies that Obama is the exception and that most blacks are the opposite of these terms.

The only word of praise a white person can use regarding Obama is "eloquent."

Now you know the [travy] rules.

Go forth and sin no more, Sen. Biden (and all you other white MOFOs!)

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

pbs.org: And one of the things that happened is that Jesse Jackson spoke. It was a marvelous speech. Extremely articulate. Extremely knowledgeable.

Hey, PBS is a racist organization.

Who knew!

Or do they get a pass because they said "extremely" articulate?

Was that Biden's real mistake? Not qualifying "articulate" with "extremely" or "most" or "very"?

[Jesse] had a[n] articulate kind of self-confidence intellectually. -- Andrew Young

Now, it's okay for Andrew Young to call a black man "articulate" because, you know, he's black too.

So remember everybody, if you are white, do not use "articulate" to describe any black man; if you are black, you may use any word you want to describe a black man or a white man.

These are the [travy] rules.

Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., said today's 78-to-22 Senate vote confirming John Roberts as Chief Justice may "place a wolf in sheep's clothing inside the U.S. Supreme Court. Roberts presented himself to the American people in Senate hearings as a nice looking, intelligent, articulate and moderate person. What we saw is not what we'll get."

Gee, yet another white leader described as "articulate" as if it were something special, not as if it were something possessed by most white folks and lacking in most black folks.

[Sen. John Glenn] praised Mr. Jackson as ''a very able, articulate spokesman . . .

Now, see. Former Sen. Glenn knew how to do it. Just put a "very" in front of "articulate" and you are not a racist. Or was he?

Heed the former senator, current Senator Biden! When next you describe Obama, put a "very" in front of "articulate" and you'll [maybe] be oooookaaaay.

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Any others to add, travy?

the main rule to guide you in this matter should be to take people at face value when they tell you they're offended by something you said.

after that i'd probably sincerely apologize and not say the offending statement again, but of course, i'm not an asshole, so your milage may vary...

Posted by: travy on February 2, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I incidated I was offended when you called me a racist and you didn't take my offense at face value and never apologized, but instead keep repeating the charge.

So, you'll excuse me for dismissing your petulent hypocrisy for what it is - your own brand of racism fueled by ignorance and self-pity.

You still refuse to address the substance of my points, but merely rant on and on about my lack of sensitivity.

Here's the point though:

If "articulate" was not a word of praise, FOR ANYBODY OF ANY RACE, then writers would not go out of their way to praise people like Kennedy, or Johnson, or a host of other white American politicians, for being articulate.

But you are implicitly saying that "articulate" is nothing special; that most people are articulate and to characterize Obama as "articulate" is to merely note as special something which is not.

This, however, is the exact opposite of how "articulate" is used. It is something special to be so.

But in the end, then, you are essentially saying that Obama is no better spoken than any other black in America or any other white person in America, that he's nothing special, and therefore he doesn't deserve to be praised for his speaking ability.

More the pity for Obama that blacks and liberal whites don't see him as anything special.

I think he is.

But then, I also think he's articulate.

You, travy, are not.

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

You see, folks, it's no longer good enough to refrain from the use of actual slurs when speaking about blacks.

You must now be very precise in how you praise blacks, using only certain words and omitting others, words that are described on a secret list that only blacks have.

And you won't know the word is on the list until AFTER you've used it and get classified as a racist for your trouble, because the words are commonly used by whites to describe positive characteristics of exceptional people and there is no historical precedent that would inform you that using such words of praise is indirectly promoting a stereotype.

And remember, you are a racist regardless of intent. Because you should have known better. Even though you wont' be able to find any reference to "inarticulate" being used as a stereotype and even though blacks use "articulate" to describe exceptional black speakers.

But if you don't praise blacks at all, trying to avoid using any of the secret words, then you are a racist because you are refusing to acknowledge black talent and success.

In other words, if you are white, you cannot escape being called a racist, especially if you disagree with any black person for any reason, but that conclusion is not itself racist, or a stereotype, because it is the conclusion of a black person.

So, you have to avoid promoting stereotypes.

That's a given. A good rule.

But now remember to also avoid indirectly promoting stereotypes by even remotely suggesting that any particular black person is better than the average black person at anything or is good at something that blacks, according to stereotype, are good at.

So, don't go speaking about Vince Young's exceptional athletic skills, because you will be indirectly promoting the stereotype that blacks are exceptionally athletic and the stereotype that they are not intelligent and skilled in non-athletic endeavors.

See, you can get two indirect stereotypes promoted out of one word of praise.

So, just don't do it.

Don't praise blacks at all (except you may call a black "eloquent." I have it on good authority.)

Better to remain silent and be suspected of being a racist than to open your mouth and confirm it regardless of the words you utter.

Or is that a stereotype you want to keep, travy?

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Better to remain silent and be suspected of being a racist than to open your mouth and confirm it...

at this point, this is excellent advice for someone like you...:^)

Posted by: travy on February 2, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

travy: at this point, this is excellent advice for someone like you

Obviously, you did not take this advice.

Still waiting for the acknowlegement you've taken my offense at face value and the apology you say you'd offer . . .

I guess, though, in your world it only goes one way.

Whites have to take black offense at face value, but not vice versa.

Got it.

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK
the main rule to guide you in this matter should be to take people at face value when they tell you they're offended by something you said.

I believe you are offended by Biden's statement.

What I don't get is the leap from there to "Biden's statement is racist" rather than "travy is a racist who, because of his racism, doesn't pay attention to the context of what people say, but judges them instead by racist generalities and stereotypes", especially since the latter also explainst the other racist statements you've made in this thread, while the former does not. Parsimony suggests the latter explanation of your offense, therefore, is the better one.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 2, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a fan of Senator Biden. The political talking heads have become so PC and out of touch with American idiom and syllogism that they look at every connotation of every word and find disparagement where there is none.

I'd rather have a President who speaks his mind -- not the most recent poll -- and who has years of experience with bi-partisan cooperation, and foreign relations, than the others currently running on either side.

Biden is refreshing; he's experienced; and he's outspoken. I say that's all good.

Posted by: Anne on February 2, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

There are people who want to find racism in the words of others in the same manner as Bush wanted to find evidence of WMDs in the intelligence coming out of Iraq.

Some people see what they want to see, regardless of reality.

Some people find what they want to find, regardless of reality.

Some people believe what they want to believe, regardless of reality.

Pathetic, but true.

(I'm sure there is some "racist code" in the above somewhere - at least some that travy can find, since he's seeking it so hard.)

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

travy: for someone like you...

Ahhhh, you mean for someone who is white.

See, I too can read offensive meaning into other people's statements and express self-inflicted offense and outrage.

Posted by: Google_This on February 2, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent points you make, cmdicely. The media has chosen its darlings, and they are sore that a good contender, Biden, may dilute the attention. The media loves nothing better than to set up a sparring match between Obama and Clinton.

When the truth is we should be looking for a President, a statesman, someone with the experience, qualities, and outspokenness to relate (even bluntly if need be) to other world leaders. Personally, I think Biden is about as close to perfect as one can get.

Posted by: Anne on February 2, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK


ANNE: Excellent points you make, cmdicely. The media has chosen its darlings, and they are sore that a good contender, Biden, may dilute the attention.

While cmdicely certainly made the point regarding the media's chosen darlings, I saw no mention from him that he considers Biden to be a "good contender" -- much less that he would be in agreement with your later appraisement that Biden is "close to perfect." In fact, having read and admired cmdicely's comments for a period of time amounting to years by now, I would be something close to shocked if I learned that he thought highly of him, no matter his defense of him here against a media manufactured scandal.

But then, while not shocked, I do admit, with embarrassment, that I was moderately surprised to learn that cmdicely's ethnic heritage has the composition he described. That my surprise might reveal a latent degree of racism on my part is troubling to me. Just when I was beginning to think I was close to perfect!

So, yeah, if Biden becomes the Democratic nominee I'll vote for him, so much better a president would he make than any Republican--as would I.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 2, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Assumes, stereotypically and without evidence, all white people need to be asked.

Assumes, stereotypically and without evidence, all white people have racial attitudes and motives that need to be questioned.

Assumes, stereotypically and without evidence, that white people haven't already questioned their attitudes and motives and not found them wanting.

Concludes, stereotypically and without evidence, that because whites refuse to agree with travy, they are unwilling to question and have never questioned their own attitudes and motives and that those motives and attitudes must necessarily be bad (Great White Father liberals)."

Without evidence ? African American history is nearly 400 years of undiluted white American deliberate evil. But that would require you to question your innate goodness which you flatly refuse to do. So you invent absurd standards of 'proof' in classic Holocaust denier fashion ('I refuse to accept anectodal evidence. I want a signed document from Hitler to believe the Holocaust actually happenned') like that google foolishness above.

Your game is to try to create a nonexistent moral equivalency in which the condescending white racist whines about the 'racism' of blacks who question his motives. And the condescending white racist gets very mad when you resent him trying to treat you as if he personally freed you. Like shortstop above refusing to believe that someone who doesn't share the white latte liberal cultural agenda can be black. As if it is his right to define who is black. As if we owe him something.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK


CHARLES WARREN: Like shortstop above refusing to believe that someone who doesn't share the white latte liberal cultural agenda can be black.

Please provide quotes which demonstrate that shortstop believes one must support the "white latte liberal agenda" (whatever the fuck that is) in order to be black.

On the other hand, it's easy to spot your racism, since it appears in your ever-present right-wing slogans.

By the way, how is it that black people "have more in common on cultural matters with James Dobson than with the ACLU" and yet vote about 90% Democratic? Do you think they're stupid, or what?


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"By the way, how is it that black people "have more in common on cultural matters with James Dobson than with the ACLU" and yet vote about 90% Democratic? Do you think they're stupid, or what?"

If you had ever seen the main street in a black neighborhood you would have immediately been struck by, practically, a church on every block. Summon up your courage and go see for yourself. And churches each and every one of which preach fundamentalism and scriptural inerrancy (then again, you would have to know what kinds of churches you will see in a black neighborhood. Like Pentecostal, COGIC, Baptist, more Baptist, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, some Catholic churches left over from when it was an Italian neighborhood). Black people are VERY conservative religiously but VERY liberal economically. The comments that got Isaiah Washington in so much trouble could have come from practically any black male. And that is why he will NOT be fired from "Grey's Anatomy".

Shortstop refuses to believe that I am black because I am not culturally liberal. But his ignorance about black people is such that he thinks Jamaican-Americans implausible. I guess there aren't any jerk chicken places in whatever lily white neck of the woods he lives in.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK


CHARLES WARREN: Shortstop refuses to believe that I am black because I am not culturally liberal.
SHORTSTOP: You might be black, I suppose. It hardly matters when your overriding identity is that of a complete ass. Since the explanation of why Biden's words were ridiculous and condescending doesn't require a black person to make the argument, your main contributions to this thread are religious arrogance and homophobia.
I fail to see how the above squares with "refuses to believe" you are black. Now, if you'd said that she is skeptical about your being black, you'd have a point. But her larger point is that your race is not the point. Rather, it is your misrepresentation of black interests and priorities. That "400 years of undiluted white American deliberate evil" you spoke of--that came from mindsets which can be found today in persons who vote, almost exclusively, Republican.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Rather, it is your misrepresentation of black interests and priorities.

We'll speak for ourselves, thank you. And whether you like it or not we have no common interest with the white secularist.

Why do you think we gravitate to white Southern Democratic primary candidates ? Like Carter or Clinton ? Because unlike a Northern liberal the white Southern candidate has likely had deep personal relations with genuine black people. He doesn't look as ridiculously out of place in a black church as Kerry did (did you notice his little black power salute ? That went out with the afro.). Also being a Southerner he is a product of a cultural environment in which the Christian faith is respected.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK


CHARLES WARREN: We'll speak for ourselves, thank you.
You're hilarious. You speak for, at most, 10% of blacks.
And whether you like it or not we have no common interest with the white secularist.
You keep forgetting that the "we" you keep bandying about consistently votes around 90% Democratic--including "northern liberals" like Kerry.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

You keep forgetting that the "we" you keep bandying about consistently votes around 90% Democratic--including "northern liberals" like Kerry.

Had gay marriage not been an issue on the Ohio ballot, leading to a small but decisive breakdown in black support for Kerry, he would be president today.

Like I said, blacks vote Democrat because we are liberal ECONOMICALLY. Not because we have any respect at all for a white secularist cultural agenda.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK


Like I said, blacks vote Democrat because we are liberal ECONOMICALLY.

So despite practicing religion that can't be distinguished from Dobson's and which is at the very core of the lives of most blacks, economics somehow manages to trump God for them, eh? Funny how having a church on every street corner doesn't translate into abstinence, anti-abortion/pro-war viewpoints and calls for creationism in schools and tax cuts for the wealthy.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

On cultural issues (abortion, school prayer, creationism, homosexuality) the black church is indistinguishable from Dobson's. Southern fundamentalist is Southern fundamentalist.

God's things.

On ex cathedra issues like foreign policy, tax policy, etc the churches diverge. We agree to disagree on the ex cathedra stuff.

Caesar's things.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK


Well, pal, using your delineations, they're voting on Caesar's things, not God's. So all your talk about "we" becomes meaningless.


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you think the Democratic party is perfectly content to let gay marriage die out as an issue ? Why do you think trying to impose it nation-wide will NOT be in the Democratic 2008 platform ? Why has Hillary been in any black church that will have her ? Why do all the Democratic candidates have religion coaches ?

Because the Democratic party needs 90% of the black vote to win nationally. Less means defeat. Sure, most blacks vote socioeconomics. But a Democratic candidate, like Kerry, reeking of secularism (the funny thing about his official position opposing gay marriage was that nobody believed it on either side. Why should a man with his cultural background be opposed to gay marriage for any reason that it is what the pollsters told him to say ?) will lose significant black support. Enough to lose the election.

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK


You're talking to the wrong guy, CW; I'm white. Why not take your message to black churches. I'll watch with interest next November to see what effect you had on them. (Tip: Don't call anyone Macaca!)


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

You're talking to the wrong guy, CW; I'm white.

Given your knowledge base about black culture and politics, do you think that wasn't obvious ?

Posted by: Charles Warren on February 3, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK


About as obvious as shortstop being male, eh?


Posted by: jayarbee on February 3, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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