Advertisement
News by VICE

Joe Biden Was Just Reminiscing About the Civility of Deep-South Segregationists

"You’d argue like the devil with them. Then you’d go down and have lunch or dinner together"

by Emma Ockerman
Jun 19 2019, 2:16pm

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

Some segregationists were pretty chill, Joe Biden reminisced Tuesday night.

The former vice president and leading 2020 Democratic candidate remarked during a fundraiser in New York that Southern Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge still managed to be civil to him back in the day when he, a white man from Scranton, Pennsylvania, was in Congress, according to NBC News.

"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland," Biden said, according to NBC News. “He never called me ‘boy’; he always called me 'son.'"

Eastland, a Democratic senator from Mississippi from the early 1940s to late 1970s, was a staunch segregationist and racist. But then-Sen. Biden and Eastland might have gotten along because Biden sought his support in 1977 in fighting busing as a way to desegregate schools, according to CNN. Meanwhile, Biden conceded that Talmadge, a Democratic senator from Georgia, was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

But between the two senators, Biden said, “at least there was some civility.”

“We got things done,” Biden continued, according to NBC News. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

This is even the first time Biden has brought up how civil things were when segregationists were still in the Democratic Party.

"I’ve been around so long, I worked with James Eastland,” Biden said in 2017 when he was campaigning for then-candidate Sen. Doug Jones, according to the Washington Post. “Even in the days when I got there, the Democratic Party still had seven or eight old-fashioned Democratic segregationists. You’d get up and you’d argue like the devil with them. Then you’d go down and have lunch or dinner together. The political system worked. We were divided on issues, but the political system worked.”

Biden’s odd statement came just a day before Congress gathered for a hearing on reparations for black Americans — a popular campaign issue that Biden has not yet endorsed, although many of his opponents do.

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to local residents at Clinton Community College, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Clinton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Tagged:
VICE News
congress
2020
Reparations
segregationists