Forget the War on Terror, the festering economic quagmire with a collapsed housing market and auto industry, or even mounting tensions in the Middle East. President Obama has an annoyingly persistent problem much closer to home; namely the man he chose to be his #2, Joe Biden. Presumably he was picked to be the V.P. for the dignity and experience he would bring to the job. Certainly this was a key contrast made between him and Gov. Sarah Palin. After 36 years on the job in DC one thought he would have brought a better handle on world events and a more disciplined tongue to the administration. It would appear that, in spite of Tina Fay’s dullard portrayal of Mrs. Palin on SNL, she is the one that has displayed a better grasp of issues and personal control of the thoroughfare between the brain and the mouth.
During the 2008 campaign, presidential hopeful Biden called Dick Cheney “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had in American history”. Oh really? I wonder if Joe’s new boss agrees with that sentiment after seeing his reaction when the V.P. glibly diss’d Chief Justice Roberts at the swearing-in ceremony retake. If Barack’s looks could kill….
This can’t come as any surprise to Team Obama as Senator Biden had a longstanding reputation of opening his mouth only to change feet. For 8 years Americans cringed every time George W got behind a microphone. Now it’s the Obama staff that holds their breath whenever their #2 speaks. The rest of us watch like it’s NASCAR and we’re just waiting for the wreck to happen.
Even Oprah’s Obama adoring audience got a taste when she interviewed the Biden’s on national television. Jill Biden let slip that Barack offered Joe either the VP gig or Secretary of State. Oprah’s jaw dropped, Joe’s face turned red, and the audience howled. I wonder where she got that tidbit of confidential information. Apparently Hillary didn’t think it was so funny and neither did the President.
Maybe Biden was right when he commented just prior to the Democratic Convention, “Hillary Clinton is as qualified, or more qualified than I am to be Vice President of the United States of America. Quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me.” Say what? He didn’t just call his boss’s judgment into question, did he?
Even a Secretary of State position would have been an ‘iffy’ proposition. Remember, it was Joe, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that remarked during the Palin debate that “we and France kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.” What? I can’t seem to find that one in the history books.
BasicMan has a morsel of compassion so I won’t pile on with his off the cuff rendition of FDR’s ‘televised’ reaction to The Great Depression or what the Constitution has to say about vice presidential powers. These gaffes were good entertainment but never got close to reality. I seriously doubt that this is the guy you want hobnobbing with global leaders, keeping state secrets, and negotiating national policy behind closed doors with some of the world’s slickest hombres.
Contrast this with Biden’s measured demeanor as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he grills constitutional scholars interviewing for a seat on the Supreme Court. It makes one think that those isolated episodes were a political act for the C-Span cameras and the real Biden is the one that too often says the first thing that comes into his mind without regard to context or consequences. Unfortunately, we see too much of the real Biden and not enough of the act.
So why is it such a big problem for President Obama? Primarily because Barack Obama has impressed even us non-believers with his sense of discipline , dignity, and political savvy over the early stages of his presidency. In other words every instinct Biden seems to eschew.
His verbal gaffes are so transparent and appear to flow so naturally that they suck the good air out of the atmosphere Obama is desperately trying to elevate. I imagine the media is licking their chops for the opportunity to get Biden in a one on one for that quotable quote he is sure to let fly.
Say what you will about Dick Cheney, the political strategist, but he was a disciplined speaker and thoughtful supporter of the President; who never embarrassed his boss with a sense of glibness toward the position he held. Joe could take a lesson from this most dangerous V.P. because his boss certainly deserves better than what he is currently giving.