There are gaffes and then there are career ending gaffes. Even the normally left-friendly Washington Post, has been forced to admit that, former Vice President Joe Biden’s “record player” remark during the most recent Democratic Presidential Debate, was one of the latter.
Writing in the WashPo, columnist Hugh Hewitt says that Biden will likly never live down the record player kafuffle, and I agree. Hewitt says, “This was more than a gaffe that causes eye rolls. It was one of those gaffes that underscores a candidate’s central weakness and continues to bleed away votes long after its utterance.” Yep.
To remind you of what Hewitt is talking about, let’s look at the incident verbatim. Debate moderator Linsey Davis asked the 76 year-old former Veep, “In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, ‘I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.’”
“You said that some 40 years ago,” Davis continued. “But as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?”
Biden replied, “Well, they have to deal with the — look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. From the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Redlining banks, making sure we are in a position where — look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out — the $60,000 level.”
Biden’s seeming non-sequitur rant went on, “Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are — I’m married to a teacher, my deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. Make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds go to school. School. Not day care. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.”
And then this happened, Biden continued, “It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — the — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.”
So the moderator asked about America’s original sin — slavery — and Biden somehow got to “turning on record players,” which, says Hewitt, “wasn’t an effort to coax the hipster vote away from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) no matter how much the millennials love vinyl.”
Rather, Biden’s response was an incoherent, rambling, illustration of Biden’s key weakness — his age. Former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro, during the debate, and Sen. Cory Booker, afterward, made this argument, first indirectly, then directly, but they didn’t need to. With this single response, which is going to stick to him like flypaper, Biden indicted himself on the age question.