Biden's Foot In Mouth


Well-Known Member
Aug 31, 2006
So did anyone else see where he stated that Obama was the first African American who was bright, articulate and clean? I don't know exactly all he said. Does anyone else think this was a ridiculous thing to say. I know people are already saying he didn't mean it the way it sounded. But what other way could you possibley take clean and articulate. As opposed to what dirty and dumb? What do you all think of what he said?
I don't really get this yet; I haven't read up much on it. All I know is that much seems to be hanging on the word "articulate."
The funny part is that I can understand how it might appear to be a natural thing to say without realising the enormous gaffe it really is.

What Biden probably meant to say is that Obama is exceptional given the stereotypes, emphasised by his profile.
I heard the quote played a few times on a couple of different news sources. I sounded to me like Biden was impressed with how well spoken this particular Black man was. You can read into that whatever you want, but that is how I saw his statement.
It appears that Obama is not in the mood to make a big deal out of it. I understand that Biden contacted him and Obama told him to not worry about it. I think this most likely was just a choice of poor wording and that Biden's intent was to compliment Obama, not make slurs against anyone.
I guess, if you're in the mood for a fight, you could take offense at what was said. Personally, I'm surprised more isn't being made about the "clean" comment.
I agree with you mamab. The clean was the worst to me. I am sure that he didn't really mean this in a mean way but I think that this whole thing was just a very poor choice of words. I caught it on the news but I would imagine it is all over the internet.
In the same vein, I'm guessing that the "clean" was the unfortunate amalgamation of a composite of other images including cleanliness, his dress-sense and presentation. I would go so far to say that anybody who regards this as indicative of a racial slur either has it in for Biden or houses a persecution complex. Obama did the right thing.
This is starting to become an interesting discussion to watch. Having known a fair number of racist in my life, I can tell you that the clean remark smacked to me of someone who didn’t mean any harm to Obama, but couldn’t come up with anything better to say about him. The unwritten conclusion of his statement is while Obama is clean and articulate etc, must people of his background are not.

I am enjoying watching Biden get a pass on this from the left, while if a Republican had made a similar statement the media would want him to resign.
From what I gather, the "clean" part was a shortened version of an old saying that Biden grew up with - "clean as a whistle". I am going to assume his family used that phrase in the same way that mine did. It was used to refer to someone who dressed nicely, in a time when everyone was in tshirts and jeans. I am not convinced it had anything to do with hygiene, which seems to be the way the comment was taken by a number of folks.

Still, I think it is a poor choice of words, even if the above was the real intent. Last time I checked, business attire was being worn by quite a number of persons of all hues.
Now that you explained it more I never really thought about it in the context of the way he dressed. That being said just because I took this the wrong way when I first heard it doesn't mean in any way that I have it out for Biden or don't like him. When you first hear what he says it to me was a natural reaction to wonder what in the world he was getting at. I agree with mtatum above just a poor choice of words in the end.
Heh, yes Andy you might be right on that count. It's an unfortunate stereotype and a by-product of the polarisation phenomenon that allows us to make such inferences. I wonder where the stereotype came from, though.
I don't know where it came from. I remember growing up if my grandparents knew an Africian American that they approved of, they would call him or her "clean" or "well-spoken". They didn't mean an insult by it, but it was a way of saying this particular person was above what they expected from most Africian Americans.
But is it not in a way racial to say that they are above what you thought or expected from an African American. I mean if someone just assumed that I am white trash because I live in a trailer is that not wrong?