I’ll be honest with you, it can occasionally be tough for us here at Discourse Blog to come up with dynamic new ways to convey the fundamental message that Joe Biden’s forthcoming presidency will likely be extremely depressing on many levels. Sometimes, the best we can do is to point at something and say, “this shit sucks.”
That brings me to Thursday morning’s report from the Intercept’s Ryan Grim about a meeting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had with an array of civil rights groups on Tuesday. Grim got his hands on the audio of the meeting, which is appropriate, since what happened in that meeting is indeed—there’s no other word for it—grim.
Here’s part of what went down after NAACP President Derrick Johnson told Biden that he had grave concerns about Tom Vilsack getting another stint as secretary of the Department of Agriculture—concerns, incidentally, that are shared by a broad and deep cross-section of Black farmers and organizers.
From the Intercept (emphasis mine):
Toward the end of the conversation, Biden raised Johnson’s remark to dismiss it, saying Johnson would soon learn more about Vilsack’s record. It also wouldn’t be prudent to have that fight before the Georgia runoffs, he said, before adding that police reform should also be avoided. “I also don’t think we should get too far ahead ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police,’ anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing — which I promise you, will occur. Promise you,” Biden said.
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable. We’re talking about giving them money to do the right things. We’re talking about putting more psychologists and psychiatrists on the telephones when the 911 calls through. We’re talking about spending money to enable them to do their jobs better, not with more force, with less force and more understanding.”
“I just raise it with you to think about how much do we push between now and January 5th — we need those two seats — about police reform. But I guarantee you, there will be a full blown commission. I guarantee you it’s a major, major, major element,” Biden said.
This shit sucks. It sucks to see the incoming president of the United States telling the head of the NAACP that he is perhaps just a little ignorant about Tom Vilsack’s sterling record. I wonder what Biden would say to Lloyd Wright, the former director of civil rights at the Agriculture Department—in other words, someone who definitely is not ignorant about Vilsack’s past at the USDA, who told Politico, “When it came to issues of race, he was one of the worst I’ve ever come in contact with. What we don’t want is Vilsack to come back.” Who am I kidding, Biden would probably tell Wright he didn’t know what he was talking about.
It really sucks to see the incoming president of the United States telling the head of the NAACP that everyone needs to shut the fuck up about the cops for a little while until this Georgia thing gets sorted out, and then, pinky swear, there’s gonna be an incredible commission about all that cop crap, promise promise double promise. One might ask why Biden is promising some vague unspecified commission about the police since he has clearly already come up with the boundaries of the proposals he is willing to consider (“We’re talking about giving them money to do the right things” and so forth). And one might also ask why, if Biden is so willing to be hush-hush about policing issues because of a forthcoming election, anyone would trust him to take any kind of robust stance on policing at any point during his presidency. After all, there is always an election around the corner in America.
Again, what more is there to say other than “this shit sucks”?