Saagar Enjeti: The real story behind Biden’s ‘Corn Pop’ tale

Opinion by: Saagar Enjeti 

A clip surfaced this weekend of former Vice President Joe Biden recounting an old tale about a man named “Corn Pop”.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I urge you all to stick around because it tells an important story about his candidacy.

Let’s hear it now from the man himself.

To give you some background the former VP is verbalizing there a story he told in his autobiography about how in the summer of 1962 he took a job as a lifeguard in order according to the Washington Post, “Learn more about the Black community”

While he was a lifeguard he wants us to believe that a gang called “The Romans” lead by a man named Corn Pop showed up at the pool. After violating the rules governing the diving board, Biden expelled Corn Pop from the pool area and was then met by an angry Corn Pop when walked back to his car.

Corn Pop was apparently rumored to always be carrying a straight razor and after the two exchanged words they apparently made up and he was protected by Corn Pop’s gang for the rest of the summer.

Now uh…Let’s leave aside whether this anecdote is true or not. I have many doubts, beginning with “Corn Pop,” but this anecdote demonstrates a strange paternalism that he tells us is evidence of how he’s been a supporter of the black community from the very beginning of race relations fights in this country. This paternalism I don’t think reflects a personal moral failing on his part, but one that is a consequence of age.

I’ve mentioned Biden’s gaffes here before. As you can see in that clip they’ve been around for a long time. The issue isn’t the gaffes, it’s what he says in between. You see in that clip that he thinks he can win over the black community with weird dated anecdotes of being a strict lifeguard. That’s how he approaches many of these issues. His thinking is largely rooted in the 1980’s and he’s been the champion of a failed consensus that hardly anybody really wants to turn back to.

 Fivethirtyeight Editor-in-chief Nate Silver, he notes in a new piece….

That voter’s don’t particularly care about Biden’s gaffes but they absolutely do care about his age. Julian Castro and others, they have gone after Biden’s age for what it says about his general fitness for office and while I think that discussion is legitimate, it’s one that misses the root of what we’re really talking about.

Think about it, Donald Trump is 73, Bernie Sanders is 78, Elizabeth warren is 70. Joe Biden is 76. Why is it we discuss Biden’s age so much in this campaign cycle and not with the others. It’s because not only does Biden bumble his words when he speaks, but his thinking and general orientation towards politics is so reminiscent of an age that has passed them by.

Biden is a unique candidate in that he’s fundamentally not running on a transformative vision for the country. Donald Trump’s campaign was derided as a step backwards. What it really was was a break from a failed consensus to seek greatness we once had. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s campaigns, they are very similar. All of these are older candidates seeking breaks from the system and its why voters many years their junior are willing to give them a chance, and it’s why when we watch those clips of Joe Biden, it’s very disturbing.

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