by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [T]he historic record shows Biden was far more than merely “civil” with segregationists. His early interactions can be more accurately described as obsequious. Biden hadn’t negotiated with political rivals to push bipartisan policy. He had worked with members of his own party—run by men who placed him in positions of power—on issues they agreed on.
Judging from the Senate transcripts and interviews of the time, it’s clear that Biden was an all-star opportunist. After watching the former Delaware senator shed 50 years of positions in the past few years, this should come as no surprise.
In 1973, Democratic Party leadership was teeming with unsavory Southern senators. If a freshman like Biden—who in a 1974 Time magazine profile admitted “to being compulsively ambitious”—wanted a plum committee position, he would be compelled to approach someone like J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a segregationist and anti-Semite who would later become a mentor to the Clintons. …
… And if Biden wanted to be on the judiciary committee, he would have to get along with Eastland, the “Voice of the White South,” who was chair and president pro tempore of the Senate. The stories about their chummy relationship aren’t new; Biden has been repeating them for decades. …
… Whatever the case, it’s difficult to feel much sympathy for his plight. In 2012, it was Biden who would tell a crowd of African Americans that the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney—who, as far as we know, had shown not any deference to segregationists—was going to “put you all back in chains.” It was an ugly smear.