Speaking before a group of largely Asian American and Latinx voters in Iowa on Thursday night, Joe Biden—in classic Joe fashion—said some wildly dumb shit about poverty, race, and educational success.
His remarks started off fine? “We should challenge students in these schools that have advanced placement programs in these schools. We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it,” Biden said, per news reports.
I’m with you so far, Joe!
He then added: “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
There is, of course, much to unpack in that statement. It sure seems to imply he sees white students as the benchmark for educational success and that he equates poverty with students of color, despite there being quite a lot of poor white students in the U.S. who also don’t get the resources they need.
Biden then added, after a pause, “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids, no I really mean it, but think how we think about it.” I’m not quite sure how that clarifies his earlier statement or what he even meant, but I can only assume that he really wants us to think on it!
Biden’s comments have been seized upon by Republicans, and a clip was tweeted out by Trump’s re-election campaign. For his supporters, I can see how it’d be easy to chalk this up to yet another example of Biden misspeaking. But I hesitate in merely describing Biden’s remarks as a gaffe, which would imply that he meant to say something different. Rather, it’s a telling comment that certainly tracks for a politician who has spoken fondly of working with some of the most notorious Southern segregationists in the 1970s.
But yes, he is prone to gaffes, as this clip also from Thursday shows:
Biden somehow still leads the polls in the race for the Democratic nomination and is continuing to bank on the fact that many voters still think—for fairly unexamined reasons—that he’s the best candidate to beat Donald Trump. But let’s remember that Joe Biden is still the same man who has lost every single presidential campaign he’s run.