Unchained, Nothing Stays the Same

Unchained, Nothing Stays the Same

Unchained, Nothing Stays the Same

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 14 2012 5:05 PM

Unchained, Nothing Stays the Same

BOSTON -- Lots of driving and even more campaign events --> fewer pieces on this blog. But talk radio (Howie Carr, mainly) kept me abreast of the latest vice presidential gaffe-gasm.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post. 

“Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules — unchain Wall Street,” Biden said a rally in Danville, Va. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”
The comment drew a smattering of laughs and some noises from the 1,000 or so in the racially mixed crowd of supporters that appeared to be roughly half African-American.
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Leaving aside "some noises" for a moment,* let's focus on the Romney campaign's response from spokeswoman Andrea Saul. This is the entirety of the response.

After weeks of slanderous and baseless accusations leveled against Governor Romney, the Obama Campaign has reached a new low. The comments made by the Vice President of the United States are not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama Campaign will say and do anything to win this election. President Obama should tell the American people whether he agrees with Joe Biden’s comments.

But what's offensive? We can assume, right, that the vice president shouldn't accuse Republicans of wanting to put people in chains (true!), and that by "people," we are referring not to the half of the crowd that's white, but the half that's black. Was Biden saying that Mitt Romney would literally return black people to the state they were before 1863? That does sound pretty crazy.

So, we've established what you shouldn't be able to imply about race in a campaign. Has Biden lowered the bar far enough that we'll still rend our garments and faint on couches when somebody implies that people of different races might be affected in different ways by policy? Probably not.

*I imagine Rick Ross "unnnnnghs," but the video doesn't help us here.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.