A fatal failing of establishment elites is condescension toward a large bloc of voters
In his half-century in national politics, Joe Biden has committed more than his fair share of gaffes. Wednesday, he confused Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941, with D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The more serious recent gaffe, a beaut, came at the close of a recent contentious interview with black activist Charlamagne tha God.
A miffed Biden signed off, saying, "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black."
Biden was saying that no self-respecting black American would vote for Trump over him this November. Indeed, any such individual would have been labeled in the 1960s with the slur Uncle Tom.
As Biden put it, if you're for Trump, "you ain't black."
Recognizing the damage he may have done with his own and his party's most loyal constituency, which might object to being taken for granted as knee-jerk Democratic voters, Biden's staff put in a hasty call to a gathering of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce.
There, Biden burbled full apologies: "I would never take the African American community for granted. ... I shouldn't have been such a wise guy. ... No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background." He had just been kidding.
Now, as a gaffe, this was not of the magnitude of James G. Blaine's failure to object when a friendly Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Sam Burchard, rose to disparage the New York Irish Blaine had been courting as being "the Party of Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion."
In 1884, that slur soured Catholics on Blaine, helping to cost him New York's state's electoral votes and the White House. Thanks to Burchard, Grover Cleveland would become the only Democrat to win the presidency in the half-century between 1860 and 1912.
Biden's gaffe and Burchard's slur have this in common: Both manifest a measure of condescension toward a large bloc of voters.