by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Former vice president Joe Biden exploded at a Democratic Senate colleague for blocking anti-busing legislation in the Judiciary Committee, calling him a “dirty bastard” and a “son of a bitch” during the hearing.
Former South Dakota senator James Abourezk relates the 1977 incident in his book, Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate (1989). Abourezk had been approached by the chief lobbyist for the NAACP to fight an upcoming bill Biden coauthored with Delaware’s other U.S. senator, Republican William Roth, to block a federal court from ordering the state to desegregate schools through busing.
When Abourezk moved to block the bill from passing through committee, he faced the wrath of Biden, who called him a “son of a bitch,” a “dirty bastard,” and told him he’d never vote for one of his bills again, according to the book.
Democratic senator James Eastland, a Mississippi segregationist whose “civility” was recently praised by Biden, chaired the Judiciary Committee at the time. Eastland began the hearing by bringing up Biden’s anti-busing bill, and Abourezk made clear he was about to filibuster the bill until Eastland adjourned the meeting. …
… Biden didn’t show Abourezk any civility for working with the NAACP, according to the account.
“Biden leaned over to me, fire coming out of his eyes, ‘Abourezk, you son of a bitch, if I ever vote for another one of your bills, it’ll be a cold day in hell.’
‘Calm down, Joe,’ I told him, ‘You’re eventually gonna thank me for doing this.’
‘Like hell I will you dirty bastard.’ Biden snorted, stomping out of the room.”
Abourezk proved to be the shrewder political tactician, according to his telling.