By Steve Kornacki
The New York Observer
October 25, 2007
Just when Joe Biden was cooking up a nice little redemption story, he goes and steps in it—again.
“Senator implies minorities to blame for bad schools,” announced a graphic on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, the kind of damning headline that no amount of spinning by any politician can undo.
For the record, the Delaware senator and presidential candidate’s latest verbal crime came in an interview with the Washington Post’s editorial board, when after a typically prolix dissertation on federal education policy, he compared Iowa’s mostly white public schools to the heavily black schools in Washington, D.C.
“There’s less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African-American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with,” he was quoted saying. His campaign quickly sought to clarify the remark, arguing that he was trying to point out the socio-economic disparities between impoverished inner-cities and middle class areas.
Not that it matters.
The Washington Post’s own headline declared, “Biden stumbles in interview.” And one of the paper’s editorial writers, appearing on MSNBC, pronounced the comment “offensive.” The occasion also allowed MSNBC to declare a trend, reminding viewers of Mr. Biden’s previous racial controversies: His infamous—and almost certainly misunderstood—“clean” and “articulate” comment about Barack Obama to the Observer back in January, and his off-hand remark two summers ago that “you can not enter a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have an Indian accent.”
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