Joe Biden, Mitt Romney’s greatest asset
By Neal Larson
Trying to choose my favorite Joe Biden gaffe is like being a seven year old in Baskin Robbins. The only difference is that at Baskin Robbins you have only 31 choices. “Stand up Chuck!” still elicits a laugh-out-loud response when I hear it. And when he whispered into President Obama’s ear that the just-signed health care law was a “big f***ing deal” just loud enough for a stray microphone – and America – to hear too, I just shook my head. Of course no Joe Biden gaffe list is complete without including the time he erroneously implied the Irish Prime Minister’s very-much-alive mother was dead. “God Rest Her Soul,” he said somberly. After quickly realizing his blunder, he surprisingly recovered quite well with a tone-changing “God BLESS her soul!” I liked Joe Biden a little more after that one.
While we still occasionally hear “potatoe” jokes about Dan Quayle, I must say respectfully to Mr. Quayle: When it comes to gaffe-making, you’re no Joe Biden. Remember when he called then-Senator Barack Obama “…the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean…”? Or that in Delaware you “…cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent…”? Classics, all of them.
This week Joe stepped in it again, telling an audience with a large black population that the Republicans wanted to “put y’all back in chains” by unchaining Wall Street. Some who saw the clip say he was not making a reference to slavery. One little word seems to counter that line of thinking: “back”. He clearly was referencing a people who had once been in chains, and in this case, literally. It didn’t help that Biden was gesturing and voice-inflecting similar to a southern black preacher, complete with a faux southern accent. While the offending line felt like a tossed-in, unscripted line, I believe it was a deliberate one, designed to appeal to the racial sensitivities of his audience. Perhaps it was subconscious, but it was there nonetheless.
Biden’s role as running mate is in some ways a godsend to the Romney campaign because it distracts the Obama re-election effort away from the substance of their message: that Mitt Romney killed Joe Soptic’s cancer-ridden wife and an anonymous and unverified caller to Harry Reid’s office insists that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes in ten years. The Obama campaign wants to make sure we don’t get further distracted with silly-talk about the economy, jobs, and the national debt.
While the mainstream media’s collective “That’s just Joe” response is predictable, we all know a similar statement by a conservative would have elicited boycotts, incessant demands for a resignation and an apology, renewed calls for stronger hate-speech legislation, and maybe even a riot or two. But, silly me, why would I expect the media to avoid a double standard?
I have to admit there’s something likeable about Joe Biden. For me, it’s because I’ve said my share of stupid things too, as throngs of ex-girlfriends, school teachers, psychiatrists, police and parole officers, and one patient loving wife can attest. I’m totally kidding; I don’t have any ex-girlfriends. See? I just did it again.
While I believe Mitt Romney’s has many powerful weapons in his political arsenal – like Ann Romney, Paul Ryan, his business experience, and much more – Vice President Joe Biden is arguably the Romney campaign’s strongest serendipitous asset. A Presidential re-election campaign needs a dependable running mate, but not a dependably stupid one. On the flipside, it may be a wash, because Joe Biden makes even Barack Obama appear competent. Perhaps that’s the only reason he remains on the ticket.
Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590am and 92.1fm. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8:30 to 10:00. His email address is email@example.com.