Bumblin’ Joe Biden

March 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Politics | 5 Comments
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People sometimes say to me, “Panicky, get out of my bushes.” And other times, people say to me, “Panicky, you sure do pick on Joe Biden a lot. You don’t cut that guy a break at all.” It’s true, I do pick on him quite a bit. I pick on him for various reasons, and considering this, I’ve come to a startling conclusion: I pick on him because I like him.

There’s something about this old-school Irish politician that appeals to me. He says ridiculously stupid things and he doesn’t care. He says racially insensitive things and he doesn’t care. He says things that hurt his administration’s credibility and he doesn’t care. How awesome is that?

Perhaps awesome isn’t the right word. You don’t want him leading a delegation to China and stating how yellow everyone looks there. But it’s oddly refreshing that a politician (a Democrat, mind you) speaks his not-always-politically-correct mind with minimal fear of the consequences. Because of this, he has become a lightning rod for his boss, and the Obama administration as a whole. Early on, during Obama’s campaign and subsequent election, no one went after the eventual commander-in-chief. Instead, SNL, Colbert, Stewart and all the other left-of-center comedy/news programs went after Biden. They made him into the caricature of a bumbling old white guy with old school views on everything; a caricature that was not far off.

To me, he was Dan Quayle redux. George H.W. Bush picked Quayle because he injected youth and vigor into his campaign in ’88; Obama picked Biden because he injected experience and gravitas into his campaign in ’08. These juxtaposed moves were shrewd, and they worked. One time each, so far.

Biden’s strength is foreign policy, an area Obama was terrifically inexperienced in. Joe wanted to partition Iraq into three separate parts, which was something I thought was a good idea until I actually thought about it. Joe declared that the Iraq surge was a total failure. Until it was a total success.

Okay, so he knew about stuff, but he was always on the wrong side of the debate. Great.

My view of Joe changed after reading John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book “Game Change” (which is a terrific, non-partisan look at the behind-the-scenes action of the 2008 presidential campaign; pick it up if you can!). It painted him as a sturdy, scrupulous kinda guy who was very attached to his family and his friends. How can you hate a guy like that? He deeply loves his mother, who recently passed away at the age of 92, after seeing her son get to be vice president. He’s good friends with guys across the aisle, particularly John McCain. Although his back story wasn’t in the “Game Change” book, I was recently reminded of it:

Joe stuttered terribly when he was a kid, and he got over it by reciting poetry in front of a mirror. In 1972, just weeks after he was elected to the Senate for the first time, his wife and one year old daughter were killed in a car wreck while his two young sons were critically injured (they both made full recoveries). During his 1988 bid for the presidency, he was figuratively killed not only by his legendary ability to ramble, but the fact that he stole, almost verbatim, a speech from then-leader of the British Labour Party Neil Kinnock. He very shortly thereafter suffered two brain aneurysms. He faded into obscurity for awhile, until he became head of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2006. All the while always telling himself and those closest to him to never, ever give up.

Instead of giving the presidency another shot in 2004, when it likely would have been more favorable to him, he waited until 2008. Again, he was immediately destroyed by his own mouth, calling Obama a nice, clean black guy. You know, in that way. His second campaign was over even before it began.

But, remarkably, during his ill-fated campaign, he actually gained notoriety and respect for his cool demeanor and disciplined responses. I know! Biden’s opinion was continuously sought by both Obama and Hillary Clinton during their bloody brawls towards nomination. While Biden was much closer to Clinton than Obama, he became impressed by young upstart, particularly after his ‘race speech’ early on in 2008.

He didn’t endorse anyone, but didn’t attack anyone either. He wanted to be Secretary of State in the worst way, which was confirmed by a gaffe from his own wife, Jill Biden, on Oprah. Gaffes are apparently contagious in his family. He often said regarding the vice presidency: “A woman has two sons; one goes off to sea, the other becomes vice president; neither is heard from again.” But Obama wanted him for the job, and when he saw the competition (Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine and Kathleen Sebelius), his competitive streak took over and he took the job.

And the rest is history.

So, here he is, ramblin’ Joe Biden. As a politician, he has a tendency to be, well, wrong. But as a man, he’s got character. Or at least he seems to, from my vantage point. He’s a likable alternative to Obama’s cold, Vulcan manner. Sure his judgment is not particularly adamantine, but he’s a ‘follow your gut’ kinda guy. He’s innocuous. And we’ve had presidents and vice presidents like that before, haven’t we?



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  1. […] from: Bumblin' Joe Biden « The Panicky Vaudevillian's Blog Related Posts:iOwnTheWorld.com » Blog Archive » Joe Biden Was Behind This, I'm Sure– Vice […]

  2. I’ve collected many of his gaffes at joebidensaidthat.com – enjoy!

  3. That’s quite enlighting for me.

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