It’s widely accepted that one of Hillary Clinton’s worst blunders as a presidential candidate involved her proclivity to insult large swaths of the electorate. Mudslinging is hardly a new phenomenon on the campaign trail, of course, but most politicians reserve their calumny for opposing candidates. Clinton’s innovation was to turn her invective on the voters. Yet, even as the Democrats endeavor to undo the electoral consequences of her ineptitude, many of their candidates continue to follow Clinton’s deplorable example. As recently as last week, former Vice President Joe Biden, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris felt the need to remind prospective voters of their multifarious shortcomings.
The most widely reported episode involved our erstwhile VP and a voter who dared to question his son’s dealings with a famously corrupt Ukrainian energy company when Biden was the Obama administration point man in that troubled country. The exchange began somewhat inauspiciously when a participant in a Democratic town hall stood and suggested that Biden’s age had deprived him of the mental stamina to be president. Having thus captured the attention of “Good Ole Joe,” the man went on to describe Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of Burisma Holdings as “selling access” and compared it to the misdeeds of which President Trump has been accused pursuant to Ukraine. Biden was not pleased:
You’re a damn liar, man. That’s not true and no one has ever said that.… Look, the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people and I can get things done. And you want to check my shape? Let’s do push-ups together man, let’s run, let’s do whatever you wanna do.… And number two, no one has said my son has done anything wrong and I did not, on any occasion.
Biden’s reiteration of this preposterous claim prompted the man to point out that he had heard it on MSNBC, whereupon Biden again questioned his veracity. This is by no means the only time the former vice president has become abusive to a voter at a campaign event. A couple of weeks earlier at a South Carolina Democratic event, immigration activist Carlos Rojas Rodriguez reminded Biden that many thousands of families had been separated while he was vice president. Biden interrupted him by barking, “You should vote for Trump.” This motivated Rodriguez to write in the Nation that this attitude had eroded his faith in the Democratic Party. The dangers of such behavior toward voters are evidently lost on the former VP.
Yet Biden’s contempt for inconvenient voters isn’t unique among prominent Democrats. Last Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg channeled Hillary Clinton with the following slur: “Anyone who supported this President is at best looking the other way on racism — at best.” In fact, “Mayor Pete” one-upped Clinton, who decanted only half of Trump’s supporters into her infamous “basket of deplorables.” Buttigieg wrote off all 63 million of Trump’s voters as racist or willing to condone racism. This isn’t the first time “Mayor Pete” has used this line. Last August, when asked on CNN’s State of the Union if a vote for Trump in 2020 constituted an act of racism, he replied, “Well, at best, it means looking the other way on racism.”
The irony of this claim is that the South Bend mayor enjoys far less support among non-whites than does Trump. As we reported in this space last summer, the president’s approval numbers among minorities have been moving upward for some time. This trend was confirmed last week by three new surveys, all of which show his support among non-whites above 30 percent. It’s difficult to see how Trump’s minority supporters can be labeled racist by Buttigieg, whose approval numbers among non-whites are dismal. In fact, a recent Quinnipiac poll shows Mayor Pete with exactly zero support among black voters in South Carolina, the first state with a significant minority population in which he will face a primary.
Buttigieg wasn’t the only Democratic presidential candidate who channeled Hillary Clinton last week. When Sen. Kamala Harris finally dropped out of the race, she querulously claimed that the fault lay with the nation rather than her own shortcomings. She seems to believe she failed because of what she labeled the donkey in the room, elaborating with this question: “Is America ready for that? Are they ready for a woman of color to be president?” In other words, she was unable to overcome the racism and sexism that remains endemic to a country that twice elected a black man president, and whose 2016 popular vote went to a female presidential candidate. Sadly, this pathetic excuse has been embraced by some in the media:
Kamala Harris had many issues with her campaign, but so does everyone else running for president. Failing up is common in American politics — especially for white men. Everyone has something in their personal and professional pasts they’d take back if they could, a vote they’d reverse or a more progressive outlook they wish they would have embraced sooner. But no one can reverse time. We’re often left with candidates to whom we have to extend some grace.
If only the author of this sanctimonious tripe would “extend some grace” to the voters. America didn’t fail Kamala Harris. She was rejected by Democratic donors and prospective voters who aren’t likely to thank her for implying that they are racist, sexist troglodytes. Nor will they thank Pete Buttigieg when he drops out and blames his loss on homophobia. And, if Joe Biden actually gets within groping range of the Democratic nomination, he should avoid blaming his ultimate rejection on the electorate. Indeed, he would be wise to consider this: Donald Trump is by no means above hurling insults at Democrats, journalists, bureaucrats, socialists, ad infinitum. Yet he has never been dumb enough to insult the customer.