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Michelle Obama Refuses to Defend Joe Biden’s Praise for Segregationists

When former First Lady Michelle Obama was recently asked about 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden’s views on busing and praise of former segregationist politicians, she did not defend the ex-vice president.

Mrs. Obama was asked at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday if she wanted to comment on the recent “dust up” between Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris during the first Democratic presidential debate.

Obama responded, “I do not.” The former first lady said she was not new to “this rodeo” and refused to discuss the issue any further.

“I’ve been doing this rodeo far too long,” Obama said. “And no comment.”

Michelle Obama’s refusal to defend the man who served as vice president while her husband was in office is interesting to say the least. This event was the first time either of the Obamas have been asked about Biden’s controversy since it arose.

What else could she do?

Biden received a storm of criticism in June for invoking deceased Democratic Senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia during a fundraiser in New York City. The former vice president brought up their names two men while explaining to donors why he was best suited among the 2020 candidates to forge “consensus” in Congress.


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“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden told donors pretending to have a Southern accent. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”

“Well guess what?” Biden continued. “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.”

Both Talmadge and Eastland were diehard segregationists who fought hard against civil rights. Biden has even called Eastland his “mentor.” Eastland was known in his time as the “voice of the white South” due to his defense of Jim Crow laws and often referred to African Americans as “an inferior race.”

Talmadge pledged to maintain the “separation of the races” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared school segregation unconstitutional.

Given the horrible histories of these senators Biden praised, of course there was no way Michelle Obama–not only a former first lady but the first African American to fill that role–could possibly give Joe Biden a pass on this.

So she stayed silent and chose not to defend him. What else could she possibly do?