Former vice president Joe Biden handed the Trump campaign an interview gaffe for the ages on Wednesday. When asked if he had taken a cognitive test to prove he is mentally capable of being president, Biden compared the question to being asked to take a cocaine test before appearing on a television program:
‘No I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on man. That’s like sayin’, y’know, before you go on this program, ‘will ya take a test whether you’re taking cocaine or not, whaddya think, huh? Are-are you a junkie?’
He went on to stumble his way through an answer indicating that the American public can judge his mental fitness on the debate stage: ‘Anyway, I am, uh, I am very willing to let the American public judge my physical mental-phyl-, my physical as well as my mental fil-fitness, and uh, to, uh, make a judgment about who I am.’
The angle of attack was so obvious — well, at least to Cockburn. Given the chance to bat down questions about his mental acuity, Biden raised even more red flags with his bizarre analogy and inability to complete a full sentence. But the Trump campaign inexplicably bucked the easy path. In addition to pointing out the cognitive deficiencies, one adviser decided to claim that the interview showed Biden is…racist?
‘I would like to note the racist undertones of Joe “racial jungle” Biden accusing a black man of being a junkie! This is what he thinks of Black people who are not “clean and articulate”,’ Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson tweeted.
‘Joe Biden keeps offending Black Americans,’ Paris Dennard, senior communications adviser for black media affairs at the RNC similarly said in an email. ‘This is not Joe Biden’s first insensitive and bigoted comment about the Black community.’
Cockburn was quite confused by this comment, as he knows people of all races who love cocaine. Further, the statement that the hypothetical drug test would occur ‘before you go on this program’ implied Biden was talking about guests of the show rather than anchors. To Cockburn’s ears, it sounded like Biden was mocking how a producer might grill a guest, rather than directing his ‘are you a junkie’ comment directly at Errol Barnett, the black reporter.
Regardless of your interpretation of Biden’s comments, hasn’t the Trump campaign learned that smearing Biden as a racist isn’t an effective tactic? First, insisting that Biden is the real racist (not the president) reeks of desperation. And second, very few rational people are going to be swayed by the idea that Biden is maliciously prejudiced against black people rather than just a bit old and politically incorrect.
Instead of focusing on the real issues, the Trump campaign continues to play the same ‘gotcha’ and finger-pointing game that sunk his opponents in 2016. It’s time for them to come up with a better playbook.