WASHINGTON — President Biden told a White House audience “I may be a white boy, but I’m not stupid” in a cringeworthy attempt at self-deprecating humor during an event celebrating Black History Month.
The 80-year-old president made the bizarre remark moments after joking that House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is black, no longer talks to him.
“I may be a white boy, but I’m not stupid. I know where the power is … you think I’m joking. I learned a long time ago about the Divine Nine,” Biden said, referring to a group of African-American sororities.
Jeffries “is here in spite of the fact that when he ran the first time I campaigned for him,” the president added before shouting out Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steven Horsford (D-Nev.).
“I campaigned for him too. You know what this means is, they don’t talk to me any more,” Biden said. “I’m only kidding.”
The oldest-ever president has a history of making awkward remarks about racial issues.
In January 2022, Biden told students at historically black colleges in Atlanta that he was arrested during civil rights protests — for which there is no evidence.
In 2020, Biden sparked an outcry when he said African-American voters “ain’t black” if they support then-President Donald Trump.
Months later, the then-Democratic candidate took heat for saying blacks were less diverse than Hispanics in terms of political thinking — before asking a black journalist if he was a “junkie” in the same interview when the reporter asked if he had taken a cognitive test.
Biden also falsely claimed during the 2020 campaign he “had the great honor of being arrested … trying to get to see [Nelson Mandela] on Robbens [sic] Island.” He later admitted that wasn’t true and said he was thinking of being separated during a congressional trip to Lesotho, though a Democratic colleague on the trip disputed that account too.
Biden also received criticism during the 2020 campaign when a tape surfaced from 2017 of him reminiscing about young black children playing with his blond leg hair while he was a lifeguard.
Going further back, to 2007, Biden praised his fellow Democratic presidential candidate (and future boss) Barack Obama as “the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean. That’s a storybook, man.”
Trump’s 2020 campaign sought to make inroads among black voters by pointing to Biden’s authorship of a 1994 crime law blamed for contributing to the “mass incarceration” of minorities. Trump signed a reform law that softened that law’s provisions.
During his Black History Month remarks Monday, Biden hailed Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) for endorsing him before the South Carolina primary in 2020, rescuing him from a rout by left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Biden also touted the fact that he had picked a black woman, Kamala Harris, to be his vice president and another black woman, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to be his first and thus far only Supreme Court nominee.
The president also noted his mass pardon last year of people with simple marijuana possession convictions — though critics of that move say he fell short of his campaign promises by leaving out all of the roughly 2,700 federal cannabis inmates, who are mostly jailed for selling the drug even though 21 states, three US territories and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational use.
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