South Carolina Sen. Jim Clyburn Defends Biden’s ‘Boy’ Comments, Accuses Nancy Pelosi of ‘Tokenism’ in Staffing

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) arrives at a House Democrats meeting at the Capitol May 22, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) has gone on record as the first black man to run to former Vice President and current Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden’s defense for controversial comments that caused quite a stir amongst black folks—except Clyburn.

Clyburn, the highest-ranking black member of Congress, defended Biden’s recent retelling of the old times when senators could find common ground even when they were racists segregationists.

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Biden noted during a fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday night that if he could find common ground with late Sens. James Eastland (D-Miss.), and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.), he could find it with anyone. In recalling this anecdote, Biden stated that Eastland “Never called me ‘boy’. He only called me ‘son.’ ”

Biden seemed to miss that this luxury was afforded him because he is a white man.

Well, that didn’t stop Clyburn from throwing on his cape to save a hoe. Clyburn defended Biden’s position, citing his statement as a way to “bring people together.” Clyburn told McClatchy that “from his experience coming up in politics as a black man in the Jim Crow South, his only option was to work with white politicians and civic leaders who controlled the system and largely opposed civil rights.

“If I had only worked with people who opposed segregation, I never would have worked with people who were not my color,” Clyburn said, who is 78 and has served 14 consecutive terms in Congress.

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On Wednesday, Clyburn told Politico that he’d worked with notorious racist segregationist, the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) “all my life.”

“I said at Fritz Hollings’ funeral, ‘Thank God a man can grow,’ ” Clyburn recalled of South Carolina’s other long-serving U.S. senator, a Democrat who died earlier this year, McClatchy reports.

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“(Hollings) ran for office in 1947 or ‘48 as a segregationist. He left office as a progressive. Thank God a man can grow.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) didn’t take kindly to Biden’s “boy” comment.

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,’ ” Booker in a statement. “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”

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But Clyburn just can’t stop saying dumb shit. During an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the South Carolina representative accused House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of not hiring a diverse staff, noting that “tokenism is all right with” his Democratic colleagues before realizing that he was attacking sideways and then walking that shit back.

“I’ve always managed a fully integrated staff. Pelosi doesn’t have that experience, nor does Hoyer have that experience. To them, tokenism is all right with them,” Clyburn said, the WSJ reports.

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Asked if he’s ever mentioned to Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Hoyer (D-Md.) their lack of diversity in hiring, Clyburn noted: “I don’t have to tell them.”

“They’re grown people. They can read. They can see,” he said.

After saying it with his chest, Clyburn then attempted to tone all that down, noting that he was trying to make a larger point about “tokenism” and not critique his leadership partners.

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“I did not intend anything as any criticism of Steny or Nancy, because I don’t think they deserve to be criticized on hiring practices,” Clyburn said. “Nancy’s got a whole lot of black folks on her staff.”

From Politico:

Seventy percent of Hoyer’s staff identifies as female, people of color or LGBT, and 24 percent are African-American, a spokeswoman for his office told the Journal. Of Pelosi’s leadership and district staff, 84 percent identify as either women, people of color or LGBT, a spokesman for the speaker’s office told the Journal. A Clyburn spokeswoman told the Journal his office is 58 percent black.

The remarks from Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, represent a remarkable fissure within the upper echelons of House leadership at a time when the Democratic caucus has struggled to maintain a united front over the question of whether to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

Clyburn and Hoyer have backed Pelosi’s efforts to talk down Democrats eager to oust Trump from office, and the trio of veteran lawmakers rarely deviate on political messaging.

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Sounds like someone told Clyburn, voted the most like R. Clayton “Clay” Davis, that if you publicly punch sideways, then you are making a mess of this whole thing, to which Clyburn reportedly replied, “Sheeeeeeeeeit.”

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About the author

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.