You ain’t black

The days last for months. It took something like 24 or 36 hours for Joe Biden to follow up Katha Pollitt’s boiled baby outburst with his own, in which he accused a black radio host to his face of being Rachel Dolezal. The conditional clauses don’t matter: “you ain’t black” is one of the most arrogant and inflammatory things a white person can say to a black person. The conditional clause in this case was a spicy purse hot sauce meataball, a testy proclamation that negritude is conditional on a vote for Joe Biden. Vote for me, Rachel, you phony bitch.

I’ve edited for clarity.

Biden and his campaign are preternaturally good at wresting defeat from the jaws of victory. They’re fucking idiot-savants. They’re challenging an incumbent who is wearing out his welcome with the American public by bullshitting us all about a global pandemic, so they mouth off about how it’s okay if their guy is a rapist or a baby eater and about how they decide who is and is not black on the criterion of submission to their political patronage. The Democratic Plantation memes rattling around in the Republican arsenal are all too apt.

Biden made sure to roll around in the bed he’d freshly shit by calling into a Black Chambers of Commerce conference to say that he did not take African-Americans’ votes for granted and had been misunderstood. He’d been understood perfectly. He had made himself perfectly clear. He expected every black voter to turn out for him in lockstep. He would not stoop so low as to defend or explain his own record or answer questions about it or listen to criticism, all of this during a campaign interview he had agreed to do.

His grievance was simple: an uppity black guy had disrespected him to his face.

He would not take it, after all he had done for Them. It was the same mix of useless paternalism, belittling, hostility, and menacing we’ve had since Jamestown and in earnest since Bacon’s Rebellion. The early planter class was terrible to white indentured servants, too, but it strategically hardened the racial lines to deter future Bacons and their foot soldiers from being uppity. It doesn’t take an intimate familiarity with the particulars to know that what Joe did was outrageous, and Joe knew it.

When Trump goes honey badger at press conferences or on Twitter, he has the maturity to stand his ground honorably. He does not grovel with insultingly fake apologies to those he has just gotten done deliberately attacking. The last thing Biden needs right now is a bad rap for being a sore loser, but that’s exactly what he is. He’s rude and callous like Trump, but in much less entertaining and more arrogant ways, and he has the dishonor to get up in other people’s faces with fighting words and then, the moment the heat hits him, scurry for cover behind the sacrosanct Beltway norm of the “apology” for “misunderstandings,” which ordinary Americans living in normal parts of the country despise. He plays dirty and then waxes eloquent about his respect for the rules.

Biden is an idiot, a thug, and a scoundrel. The only halfway credible argument in circulation for him is that he’s an Upper South ex-segregationist with a hearty dose of residual prejudices whose idea of a gentleman is Strom Thurmond, not Adolf Hitler. Strom was, of course, the John the Baptist to Joseph’s Jesus, making straight the path out to lunch. Joe is shockingly meanspirited and treacherous. He’s always been prone to uncouth, uncalled-for racial comments that an official of any class holding his offices would have the decorum not to utter in public. He was one of the most crooked members of Congress and one of the most reactionary members of his Democratic delegations. He oozes used car dealer energy.

This is not the guy to beat the Republican folk devil. His capacity to erode his own polling leads into lags is bottomless. He’s a shameless serial liar propped up by a flimsy latticework of bogus mythology: the ordinary guy who spent, like, four hours a day on the train, and not as a conductor; the workaday, down-to-earth fellow from the neighborhood; the public-spirited policy wonk; the consummate gentleman of intelligence and class, here to do battle with that fucking moron. None of this shit is true. To the extent he’s a wonk, it’s in service of the worst goals. He’s been great at throwing people into dungeons and slave labor camps for nonviolent drug offenses and trapping people in debt peonage. This is what he does for his constituents. Charlemagne tha God challenged him on these points and gave him the opportunity to defend himself, so he spat racist fighting words. People who’ve watched the entire interview say he was pulling that shit the whole time, although not as dramatically as he did at the end.

What a coda. He’s Anthony Weiner, but for personal outbursts, not dick pics.

Many observers, including some very astute ones, think he can recover from this crash and safeguard his nomination. My assumption when I went to bed with the news of it was that Biden was toast. Calling a popular syndicated black radio host a fake black had to be the only nail his coffin needed. The Democratic kingmakers had to take this as a breach of their firewall from within and a comment too egregious to let his campaign stand. I got to sleep a bit after nine in the morning, and I was wired and almost delirious by the time I learned of the scandal. I wasn’t thinking straight. The Democratic Party isn’t run by strategists; it’s run by out-of-touch idiots who take themselves for master strategists and tacticians because they surround themselves with courtiers who don’t talk back and are also out of touch. Of course they still think Biden is unbeatably strong. At least they’re still unified enough to keep up the appearance.

I was wired enough from this horseshit that I looked up the nigger wop incident. That’s the one where renowned Italian-American Andrew Cuomo told a radio interviewer that “they” “called us nigger wops.” Grease weasel that he is, he added a longwinded caveat that he was just quoting the New York Times.

When I heard about that particular spicy meataball at the time, I was confused as to who was calling whom a nigger wop. It sounded awfully ugly and archaic for the upbringing of young Christopher and Andrew. This was a second-generation New York State governor speaking, a guy born in 1957,  at the very peak of the Baby Boom. The Italians were already turning white. Were neighborhood bullies really walking around saying shit like that to a political bigshot’s kids in 1970?

They were not. The bedtime reading I did on the incident indicated that the language Cuomo had quoted on the air was nothing that he’d heard. It was more like what they called Sacco and Vanzetti.

He made the comment on an interview for Columbus Day, the day when we all agonize over the Solomonic choice between honoring wops and dishonoring redskins or honoring redskins and dishonoring wops. What the fuck else am I supposed to say about that? We reserve a high civic holiday in the mid-fall for an annual national bum fight between the Italians and the Indians.

The transfixingly hilarious thing about the interview, though, is that it was with Alan Chartock. Chartock emanates the most powerful high stoic New York Book Jew energy. I hear him on WAMC from time to time when I’m back east. He’s the mensch of a Jewish grandfather who will put the whole family to sleep just about as fast as the agriculture committee of the New Zealand Parliament. The greasy Italian sitting Governor of the State of New York went on his radio show and said “nigger wops.” It might as well have been a Terry Gross interview with Beavis and Butthead.

Where the hell do they find these putzes? This is a man whose father was one of the staunchest and most principled death penalty abolitionists of his time as governor, and there he is, following in dad’s footsteps by going into a public radio studio and stepping on his own dick. It was all to explain what it is to be Italian, eyyy, like, ya godda learn to cooka da mannicot and da spicy raviol and simma low widda glassa De Wine, Murray, and next thing you know, badabing, you’s bangin’ da wop broad and off da gefiltefish.

Fuck, never mind that. The Jewish side of that family is Chuck Schumer.

Idpol is trash. We’re cursed. It should come as no surprise that jobs chattering about ethnic identities and their meanings are attractive nuisances for the unemployable. Maybe we can get Joe Plagiarism and Brett Michael on the line to discuss what it means to be Irish. It would be fascinating to hear their comments about the names “they” “called us.”

Meanwhile I know how to do my own laundry and cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping and ride transit buses. I get the feeling, though, that the presidential politics in this country are not meant to speak to or serve losers like me. Fat Cracka ain’t black, neither. The Isaac Chotiner of the Top Forty Talk format, however, appears to be.

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