What the Hell Did Joe Biden’s ‘Chain’ Remark Mean?

It is once again time to turn the “Days Without a Joe Biden Gaffe” sign back to zero. At the end of a speech in Virginia today, Vice-President Biden passionately implored his audience to help him win North Carolina. The audience roared anyway, and Biden didn’t seem to notice the mistake.

But this was actually only the second-most eventful Biden misstep of the speech. Here’s the first: 

Conservative outlets such as The Blaze and Rush Limbaugh are portraying this as a reference to slavery. This would be the obvious interpretation had Biden made the remark at, say, the NAACP or another African-American venue. But the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, where the event took place, is not an African-American venue. Nor was the audience composed entirely or almost entirely of African-Americans, as you can see from the many white people standing behind Biden.

At the same time, the audience also did have a sizable African-American contingent, as is clear from this screenshot of Biden shaking hands after the speech.

We guess the question is, if Biden wasn’t making a wildly provocative allusion to slavery, what was he doing? Possibly, making a still-over-the-top but not as provocative allusion to the perils of an unrestrained financial industry. “He’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules,” Biden said. “Unchained Wall Street. He’s gonna put y’all back in chains.” In other words, when Wall Street is “unchained,” the rest of America is “back in chains” — that is, back at the mercy of the banks. Hyperbolic? Yes. Demagogic? Yes. But it’s a totally plausible explanation when you consider the context.

Whatever Biden meant with his remark, the lesson, as always, is that Joe Biden must never try to speak off-the-cuff. Ever.

What the Hell Did Biden’s ‘Chain’ Remark Mean?