It is a testament to how fringe and unacceptable racism has become in America today — the worst thing you can accuse a politician of is racism.
Lying is perfectly acceptable. Flip-flopping is the norm. Failure to keep promises is a given. You will even be forgiven for molesting the intern in the Oval Office.
But racism? It is the Scarlet Letter.
It was the Scarlet Letter that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden wore just a few months ago.
And, no, we are not talking about the time Mr. Biden marveled aloud a few years back about how “clean” then-Sen. Barack Obama was.
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man,” said Mr. Biden, who had been in the United States Senate since 1973.
After that cringeworthy comment got him into all sorts of hot water during the 2008 Democrat presidential primary, Mr. Biden blamed his mother for giving him the phrase “clean as a whistle.”
No, it was just a few months ago that Mr. Biden was getting pilloried by the very gatekeepers of “racism” inside the Democratic Party for proudly hobnobbing with segregationists, for his glaring “white privilege” condescension toward minorities and his decades of support for actual government policies deemed as “racist” inside his own party.
Over the summer, Mr. Biden dreamily recalled the good ole’ days when he palled around with fellow Democrats who were staunch segregationists.
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Mr. Biden said in his best Southern accent, recalling the Mississippi senator of the 1940s through the 1970s. “He never called me ‘boy,’ but he always called me ‘son.’ “
“Well, guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done,” Mr. Biden bragged. “We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”
Sens. Kamala D. Harris and Cory A. Booker — both running for president at the time — piled on Mr. Biden, accusing him of cavorting with the most heinous enemy.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also was inexplicably running for president at the time, ripped Mr. Biden.
“It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland,” he tweeted. “It’s past time for apologies or evolution from @JoeBiden. He repeatedly demonstrates that he is out of step with the values of the modern Democratic Party.”
For Mr. Biden to claim he did not agree with his fellow Democrat segregationists “on much of anything” is a bit of a stretch. They certainly did agree on their opposition to the use of busing to end desegregation of public schools.
This was a point Ms. Harris used against Mr. Biden.
“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” she said in a harsh confrontation during a debate last summer. “And that little girl was me.”
During another debate, Mr. Booker eviscerated Mr. Biden over his 35-year Senate career in which he supported crime bills that many today deem racist because they resulted in the incarceration of so many black Americans.
“This is a crisis in our country because we have treated issues of race and poverty and addiction by locking people up and not lifting them up,” Mr. Booker fumed last summer. “Since the 1970s, every crime bill — major and minor — has had his name on it.”
Fast forward to today. Democrats have eliminated both Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker from the nomination contest. The only remaining viable candidates are two septuagenarian white men.
One is Joe Biden and the other is Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, a socialist whom Democrats would rather see lose the election than take over their party.
Suddenly, Mr. Biden is not so racist. Both Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker have endorsed him.
According to Ms. Harris, Mr. Biden “has served our country with dignity and we need him now more than ever. I will do everything in my power to help elect him the next president of the United States.”
“The answer to hatred and division is to reignite our spirit of common purpose,” lectured Mr. Booker. Mr. Biden “won’t only win — he’ll show there’s more that unites us than divides us. He’ll restore honor to the Oval Office.”
So much for hobnobbing with segregationists and thwarting desegregation.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at email@example.com or @charleshurt on Twitter.