OOF: Biden’s Mother Emanuel Speech Is Brutally Panned on ‘The ReidOut’

News & Politics

If President Joe Biden was expecting his campaign speech at Mother Emanuel AME Church to garner positive reviews, he sure didn’t get any during the 7PM hour on MSNBC. Joy Reid and panelist Jason Johnson panned the speech as not enough, and a throwback to “90s, 80s politics.” The Lincoln Grift’s Tara Setmayer was reduced to almost literally repeating the Biden line asking not to be compared to the Almighty, but the alternative.

Watch as Reid and Johnson take turns citing their objections to the speech, its timing, and the broader politics of Joe Biden and his level of engagement with the younger black community (click “expand”):

JASON JOHNSON: If I were Joe Biden- I’m not trying to be glib when I say this Joy, but if I were Joe Biden, he is two or three months behind in talking to Charlamagne again. He is two or three months behind between, you know, knocking on doors and getting into communities in ways he should be. Putting out Vice President Kamala Harris. Quite frankly, right now, if I were in Joe Biden’s office, I would be calling Shannon Sharpe, right? Lke, literally. He should be speaking to a wider array of black people than just going to Mother Emanuel. We all know that he’s on the right side of that history, but he also needs to be a part of the future. 

REID: You know, Tara, that’s such a great point. Because I think one of the issues, you know, when they say Biden is “old”, his age- it’s not just his numerical age and the sort of gambit- the way he walks and talks and sounds. It’s also his politics are old. Like, he still is sort of doing ’90s, ’80s politics, including on the Middle East. Let me play a moment that happened in that church and get your comment on it. Here is the protest that happened. 

BIDEN: Without the truth, there’s no light. Without light, there’s no path from this darkness. 

PROTESTERS: If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost, and call for a cease-fire in Palestine. 

CEASE FIRE NOW! CEASE FIRE NOW! CEASE FIRE NOW!

BIDEN: That’s all right. 

CHURCH ATTENDEES: FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!

BIDEN: I understand the passion. Look, folks, after the Civil – 

PARISHIONER: You’re an understanding person. You’re an understanding person.

BIDEN: Thank you.

PARISHIONER: They don’t realize that. You’re a good man. 

BIDEN: Thank you. 

REID: Tara, that to me says the complete dichotomy with Joe Biden. For black voters of a certain age, he’s their guy. They’re the ones who delivered him the nomination and they’re still with him. Then you go under 50, under 40, under 30, you start to see a different story, and then you see some other communities who don’t necessarily feel the love. 

You just knew that Biden was in deep, deep trouble here when Reid opened with a clip of former President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, in the aftermath of the 2015 racist massacre at Mother Emanuel. THIS is how Reid introduced President Biden’s speech today. The segment went downhill fast for Biden, in what represented a microcosm of his own fraying electoral coalition. 

Reid goes to Johnson, who pretty much buried the speech, saying that it does nothing to move younger voters. Interestingly enough, Johnson recommends that Biden get in front of such hosts as Shannon Sharpe and Charlemagne. The imagination trembles at the notion of two hours of Biden and Sharpe, or of the potential for “You Ain’t Black, Part Two” with Charlemagne, who told Politico that he feels “burned” from his endorsement of Biden in 2020. Either way, pure content gold.

Reid used the clip of the checkers to illustrate Biden’s deep disconnect with younger voters. It is here that Setmayer comes to Biden’s rescue with lamentations of the timing of the Israel-Hamas war vis-a-vis the campaign (as always, the purest, truest victim of any such unfortunate event is Joe Biden’s reelection prospects) and coming dangerously close to telling Reid and Johnson to fall in line.

Since the segment can’t all be about dumping on Biden’s speech, Reid closes by slamming Nikki Haley’s explanation of the meaning of the Confederate flag on the Glenn Beck radio show. But not before pointedly mentioning that the Obamas are very concerned, SCARED even, of what is happening within the Biden reelection campaign.

Tough crowd, indeed.

 Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the aforementioned segment as aired on MSNBC’s The ReidOut on Monday, January 8th, 2024:

BARACK OBAMA: ♪♪ Amazing grace ♪♪ ♪♪ how sweet the sound ♪♪ ♪♪ that saved a wretch like me ♪♪ 

JOY REID: That was a moment. President Barack Obama back in 2015, delivering the eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Reverend Pinckney, along with eight black churchgoers who were attending Bible study, were murdered by a white supremacist who selected the church because of its history as one of the South’s oldest black churches. The killer wanted to trigger a race war. Today, Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice president at that time, visited the church as president. He also spent the day in South Carolina meeting with voters, laying out his case for re-election. And highlighting his accomplishments while underscoring the dangers that Trump and his pro-authoritarian right wing Republican party pose. 

JOE BIDEN: The lies that led to January 6th are part of a broader attack on the truth in America today that we all have seen before. The same movement that throughout the mob on the U.S. Capitol isn’t just trying to rewrite history of January 6th, they’re trying to determine to erase history. And your future. Banning books, denying your right to vote and have it counted. Destroying diversity, equality, inclusion, all across America. Harboring hate and replacing hope with anger and resentment and a dangerous view of America. 

REID: The speech comes amid growing concern that Biden’s support among African American voters is softening. Back with me, Jason Johnson and Tara Setmayer. I’m going to start with you, Jason. I know that you knew Reverend Pinckney. What’s the significance in your view of Joe Biden- President Biden being in that church today and what did you make of what he said- had to say? 

JASON JOHNSON: You know, Joy, every time we go back to Mother Emanuel, it’s difficult for me. I was there when Obama spoke in 2015. As has been talked about before, I knew Clem, I’d known Clem for years. It’s a sacred place. And it’s the place of an assassination and a massacre, and so I don’t take it lightly when politicians go there. I am glad that Joe Biden decided to go. I’m glad that Joe Biden decided to speak but the truth of the matter is, he’s speaking to the choir, literally and figuratively. The speech that he gives at Mother Emanuel is not going to move the needle if the larger way we’re looking at this is his soft support amongst African Americans. It’s not soft support because black people don’t like Joe Biden per se, it’s that black voters who are the backbone of the Democratic Party don’t necessarily feel that he’s been an active fighter on black voters’ behalf, especially in the face of the sort of white supremacy and white nationalism on the other side. So, again. Nice speech, very moving, very emotional. I don’t know that it’s doing enough. If I were Joe Biden, I’m not trying to be glib when I say this Joy-, but if I were Joe Biden, he is two or three months behind in talking to Charlamagne again. He is two or three months behind between, you know, knocking on doors and getting into communities in ways he should be. Putting out Vice President Kamala Harris. Quite frankly, right now, if I were in Joe Biden’s office, I would be calling Shannon Sharpe, right? Lke, literally. He should be speaking to a wider array of black people than just going to Mother Emanuel. We all know that he’s on the right side of that history, but he also needs to be a part of the future. 

REID: You know, Tara, that’s such a great point. Because I think one of the issues, you know, when they say Biden is “old”, his age- it’s not just his numerical age and the sort of gambit- the way he walks and talks and sounds. It’s also his politics are old. Like, he still is sort of doing ’90s, ’80s politics, including on the Middle East. Let me play a moment that happened in that church and get your comment on it. Here is the protest that happened. 

BIDEN: Without the truth, there’s no light. Without light, there’s no path from this darkness. 

PROTESTERS: If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost, and call for a cease-fire in Palestine. 

CEASE FIRE NOW! CEASE FIRE NOW! CEASE FIRE NOW!

BIDEN: That’s all right. 

CHURCH ATTENDEES: FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!

BIDEN: I understand the passion. Look, folks, after the Civil – 

PARISHIONER: You’re an understanding person. You’re an understanding person.

BIDEN: Thank you.

PARISHIONER: They don’t realize that. You’re a good man. 

BIDEN: Thank you. 

REID: Tara, that to me says the complete dichotomy with Joe Biden. For black voters of a certain age, he’s their guy. They’re the ones who delivered him the nomination and they’re still with him. Then you go under 50, under 40, under 30, you start to see a different story, and then you see some other communities who don’t necessarily feel the love. 

TARA SETMAYER: You know, I think that Joe Biden handled that moment brilliantly, because this is a very complicated issue. And you know, he’s been trying to balance doing the right thing from a foreign policy level, what’s in the best interest of the U.S. and in the region with domestic politics. And the timing of this issue couldn’t be worse from a domestic policy perspective, because of what you’re saying here with certain voting demographics particularly in the black community, younger black Americans, and Arab Americans in this country and places like Michigan, which is a really important state, key swing state. This is a challenge because this election is going to be very, very, very close again. So we can’t afford to lose — Biden can’t afford to lose any of his coalition. But I also think it’s important for people to remember that President Joe Biden, regardless of his age, regardless of what his position on the war in Israel and what’s happening there in the Middle East, this is a person who has the best interest of all Americans at the forefront. He understands that. And by staying home or thinking that they’re punishing Joe Biden somehow for his position on Israel and Hamas, is going to move the needle for them, it’s not. So instead, they’d rather have Donald Trump, who wants to have a Muslim ban again, who thinks that immigrants are vermin, who wants to be a dictator on day one, who wants to tear up the Constitution, who, you know, any black folks who think that Joe Biden and Donald Trump are somehow morally equivalent, they need to take a step back and take a look at what Donald Trump has said, what he has done, versus what president Biden is trying to do. Yes, he’s been around a long time and his record has been very clear in his support for civil rights in this country and for minorities in this country and for equality in this country. So I just think that this idea of staying home or throwing a temper tantrum because you’re not getting everything you want from President Biden, people need to really reconsider what the alternative is, because the alternative is the unthinkable. And they won’t have any opportunity to protest. Do they not remember what happened in Lafayette Square in the George Floyd protests in 2020? That’s just a taste of what Donald Trump would do again if he were in office. So I think folks really need to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture here and what’s actually at stake before throwing a temper tantrum over certain issues concerning president Biden. 

REID: The other — well, some of the people who are concerned, Jason, apparently are the Obamas. We’ve had now headlines about both President Obama, former President Obama and Michelle Obama saying she’s really scared of what’s happened. But when Tara talks about the alternatives, one of the alternatives is set to be Nikki Haley. Let me play Nikki Haley. Nikki Haley, before- she was for the Confederate flag before she was agin’ it. Here she is saying who actually ruined the Confederate flag. 

NIKKI HALEY: This is one of the oldest African American churches. These 12 people were amazing people. They loved their church, they loved their family. They loved their community. And here is this guy that comes out with his manifesto holding the Confederate flag, and had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always a small minority that’s always going to be there. 

REID: Jason, I am today old when I discovered there was nothing wrong with the Confederate flag and its meaning until, oh, Dylann Roof came along and changed its meaning away from its original one to a bad one. Your thoughts. 

JOHNSON: Yeah, I just thought if I saw a Confederate flag before Dylann Roof, it’s like, oh, that’s a place I should go trick-or-treating, right? Everybody just thought it was perfectly fine. Look, Nikki Haley is never going to be the alternative to Donald Trump. She’s not even Trump Light. She can’t be honest about her own history. And if you can’t tell me your own history, why should I give my future to you? But I think it speaks to a larger problem, Joy. Look. The ability for people going all the way back to the beginning with Elisa Stanik(sic)- we can’t allow people to just tell us whatever kind of fake history that they have. And whether that has to do with foreign policy or domestic policy, can’t let people lie.

REID: Yeah. Yeah. At least just say the honest history. Jason Johnson. Tara Setmayer. Thank you both very much.

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