President Joe Biden’s support in the black community is one of the most inexplicable phenomena of modern politics.
Despite several racial gaffes during the 2020 primaries — like talking about his work with Dixiecrat segregationists on racial busing as evidence of “civility” in Washington or telling a crowd in Iowa that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” — it was black support in the South Carolina primary that saved his campaign after a series of botched debates and poor showings in the first three primaries and caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
While it could be argued that the only other viable Democrat candidate after the first three contests, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, never gelled with black voters (or anyone outside of his white progressive base, for that matter), black support propelled Biden to the nomination. Many pundits felt black turnout for Biden — particularly in Georgia — helped Biden take the presidency.
What fueled the loyalty? Was it the fact Biden is seen as being close to former President Barack Obama, having served as his vice president? Was it the connections he’s made with black leaders during nearly a half-century in Washington politics?
Was it the time he went on the New York City-based radio program “The Breakfast Club” and told listeners that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black?”
Or is it the fact he keeps lying to black America about what he’s done for racial justice?
Case in point: On Monday, Biden addressed the 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year event at the White House. These are the kinds of national TV speeches that should easily pass without incident. As far as the White House and Biden supporters are concerned, the best news that can come out of these affairs is if no news comes out of them. We’re talking about it, however, so guess how that went?
According to a White House transcript, the president began getting himself in trouble when he told the long-winded tale of how he first got elected to the Senate in Delaware even though the seat was considered “to be a lead-pipe cinch” for the Republicans.
If you’re familiar with Biden’s backstory, that part’s actually kind of true. We have an improbable Democratic upset during a 1972 Republican landslide to thank, in part, for the fact we now have a president who, if his handlers weren’t there to direct him to Air Force One, would spend the afternoon wandering around Joint Base Andrews looking for the Braniff International check-in counter.
The rest of the rambling story would probably be marked on Wikipedia as . It involves attending an off-year state party convention and having a bunch of Democrat bigwigs bust into his room while he was “in a towel with shaving cream on my face,” saying he should run for the seat that was supposed to be a GOP lock.
After leaving the convention, Biden said, he went and saw an old professor at the University of Delaware, a Dr. Ingersoll, who paraphrased Plato to him: “The penalty good people pay for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves.”
There are so many jokes one could make about that statement, particularly when we look at who’s governing us from the White House. The important part, however, was the lie Biden was about to tell:
“And he looked at me, and he said, ‘Joe, you should run.’ I said, ‘But I — I feel strongly about all of these issues, but I…’ I had gotten involved in the civil rights movement and the wa- — but I —
“He said, ‘Joe, you should do it,’” Biden continued. “He had enough confidence in me that he gave me confidence in myself. With a kid with no money, coming from a middle-class family, who grew up in grade school stuttering, literally — for me, I’m confident I would have never done it were it not for Dr. Ingersoll.”
Maybe if Dr. Ingersoll knew Biden was lying about being involved in the civil rights movement, this could have worked out differently.
Joe Biden baselessly claims he was involved in civil rights movement. pic.twitter.com/9xdJ1GJyXk
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) October 18, 2021
Joe Biden was never involved in the civil rights movement in any meaningful sense. He’s admitted as much in his own words, when he wasn’t trying to exaggerate his own importance. He was “concerned,” he said, but was not an “activist.”
By that standard, football fans who watch every Sunday from their couch or a stool at the local bar are more “involved” in the NFL than Biden was in the civil rights movement. (They’re not just “concerned.” They’re screaming.)
And we know this would get a “pants on fire” fact-check rating because he’s been caught lying about his involvement in the civil rights movement before and had to walk it back.
And then he started spouting the same lies again:
In 1987, Joe Biden claimed he marched in the civil rights movement. A few months later, Biden disavowed the claim. Decades later, during the Obama era, and more recently on the campaign trail, he started making the same claims again. https://t.co/NAlMJ6ZTq7 pic.twitter.com/tpmE6VXmG6
— The Intercept (@theintercept) February 14, 2020
The first spurious claims came during his abortive 1988 presidential run, which eventually died after he was caught plagiarizing a speech. However, claims he made about his involvement in marching and protesting for civil rights also came under scrutiny.
As The Intercept pointed out, his rhetoric changed considerably over the course of 1987.
In February: “When I was 17 years old, like many of you, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate the restaurants and movie houses of Wilmington, Delaware.”
In April: “I came out of the civil rights movement … I was one of those guys that sat in and marched and all that stuff.”
In September: “During the 1960s, I was in fact very concerned about the civil rights movement,” Biden said. “I was not an activist. I worked at an all-black swimming pool in the east side of Wilmington, Delaware. I was involved in what they were thinking, what they were feeling. I was involved, but I was not out marching. I was not down in Selma, I was not anywhere else. I was a suburbanite kid who got a dose of exposure to what was happening to black Americans in my own city.”
What’s more, this pattern continued during the Obama years. As The Intercept reported, Biden would frequently spend his time as vice president citing his attempts to desegregate Delaware movie theaters despite inconsistencies in his stories and almost no evidence he was seriously involved.
And this isn’t even counting his biggest race-related whopper — technically not related to the American civil rights movement but still worth noting.
In February of 2020, Biden claimed apartheid-era South African police arrested him as he was trying to visit Nelson Mandela, saying “I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.”
Soweto is a township in Johannesburg, hundreds of miles away from Robben Island, the prison off of Cape Town where Mandela was being held. Biden would later try to explain this away by saying he was “stopped” and could not “move where I wanted to go,” not that he was actually arrested. As for being hundreds of miles away from Mandela, he didn’t explain that part — nor was he asked to.
In short, Biden has lied and continues to lie about what he’s done for civil rights and racial justice. He gets called on it occasionally — but is rarely taken to task in any serious manner for inflating his civil rights resumé.
And yet, in 2020, a man who blatantly and repeatedly lied to the black community about his commitment to their cause got their overwhelming support.
Sure, Bernie Sanders was and is no great shakes. At least he never claimed he got arrested in Toronto trying to bail Martin Luther King Jr. out of a Birmingham, Alabama jail.