I’ve commented before that the 2008 Presidential primary campaign seems very accelerated, but even I couldn’t have predicted the parabolic trajectory of the Joe Biden campaign on its first official day. Biden has now apologized for his description of primary opponent Barack Obama as the first mainstream clean African-American:
Sen. Joseph Biden has launched his bid for the White House on the issue of Iraq, but Wednesday his campaign was sidetracked over race.
Like everybody these days Biden declared online, but it was old media that got him in trouble: Personal comments he made about another White House hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, recorded by a reporter for the New York Observer.
“I mean, you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a story-book, man,” Biden said. …
Fearing the political damage of his comments Wednesday night, Biden released a statement saying, “I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Sen. Obama.”
Biden got knocked out of his last Presidential run for plagiarizing British leftist Neil Kinnock in Biden’s campaign speeches. Today, I bet he wishes that he was still lifting material from someone else.
In his apology, he claimed that Obama dismissed the controversy, but Obama didn’t sound that way when he spoke with reporters later. He reminded journalists — and Biden — that America has been blessed with many clean and well-spoken African-American politicians, such as Shirley Chisolm, Jesse Jackson (who ran for President in 1988), Al Sharpton (who ran himself in 2004), and Carol Mosely Braun. Jackson gave Biden a pass of sorts, saying that Biden didn’t mean to insult anyone, but that it certainly could have been understood as such.
Biden’s problem is and has always been his big mouth and the love affair he has with the sound of his own voice. It’s a bad combination, and for those who have watched him in action during committee hearings, today’s events come as no surprise. Both Samuel Alito and John Roberts danced rings around him, with the highlight being Biden’s statement of nonplussedness over Alito’s refusal to prejudge issues that might come before the court. Biden only gets the silver medal for self-love, as John Kerry won the gold in 2004, but it was a close contest.
He comes in second to no one in political incompetence, though. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in my lifetime kneecap their presidential bid on the same day it launched.