by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential front-runner, singled out two notorious segregationists who were his party colleagues in the Senate in the 1970s as examples of politicians he could work with.
Speaking at his third New York fundraiser with wealthy donors on Tuesday, Biden talked about Senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden, 76, said, according to a pool report, imitating the dead Southerner’s drawl. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
He then brought up another segregationist Democrat, “a guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys.
“Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Eastland, who died in 1986 aged 81, said many times that he thought black people belonged to “an inferior race.” When later asked if he would change anything in his political career, he said that he “voted my convictions on everything.”
Talmadge, who died in 2002 aged 88, once denounced the 1954 Supreme Court decision on school desegregation, saying ”there aren’t enough troops in the whole United States to make the white people of this state send their children to school with colored children.”