Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Joe Biden
Sen. Joe Biden has a touch of The Crazy. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The Crazy is present and alive within him, ready to strike at any moment. It's the hallmark and curse of a verbose politico. Bill Clinton has The Crazy. John McCain has The Crazy. Political strategist James Carville has The Crazy. It's the power to speak the truth in the most brutal of ways. The power to silence critics with a big FU at any given time. The Crazy makes you magnetic, but it also makes you stupid. You can get drunk off The Crazy. You can become toxic or volatile. The Crazy makes you prone to say anything at any given time and you live every moment as if you were Howard Beale shouting, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
"It's all out there, in the clear public view," Biden said about his past foibles. "I didn't always comport myself in the way that I wanted to. … My private life has been lived in the public arena because y'all got me started so young," he said. "I hadn't been out of law school but a year when I got involved in the Democratic Party." -- "Biden Tells Homes State Delegation He's Not Perfect," CBSNews.com
Biden, throughout his career, has been known for both his unrelenting passion and his foot-in-mouth syndrome. He caught flack for referring to Obama as an "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" and was recorded uttering to voters that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."
And those (along with almost calling Obama "Barack Amer ..." at the end of his speech in Springfield, Ill.) are just the tip of a nonsensical iceberg.
There was the plagiarism issue when he ran for president in 1987 that caused him to drop out of the race. He also exaggerated his academic record. Explaining himself, Biden said, "In my zeal to rekindle idealism, I made some mistakes." ("FACTBOX: Democrat Joe Biden, Obama's No. 2," Reuters)
Biden is not the ideal vice president. For one, during the Democratic Primary he couldn't even get out of Iowa. The Republicans are already running ads charging that it's a sign of some defect in Obama's character for picking up the man with no delegates over his closest and most bitter rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton does not possess The Crazy, but neither does Obama. Both are nerds who've fashioned themselves into the politicians they are today. They're not really know for giving folks the finger or allowing their tempers to get the best of them in public settings.
But it's somewhat obvious that any Obama-Clinton pairing would be fraught with unnatural complexities. The person with the next highest number of delegates was John Edwards, but he was out the minute "I couldn't keep it in the pants but that baby isn't mine" scandal hit him. And then there was Bill Richardson, who despite his good qualities, also suffers from a bit of The Crazy and some wondered if a black man and a half Mexican were too "United Nations" for the presidential ticket.
Old white guy had just the right ring of banality.
Therefore we got Biden. That's not such a bad thing.
Susan Castner, a Clinton delegate from Portland, Ore., said she sees some of Clinton's qualities in Biden. She likes his experience, especially on foreign policy.
"It really kind of humanizes Barack Obama," Castner said. "He has this air of perfection, and Joe Biden is more down to earth.""I love his passion," Castner said of Biden. "I like him a lot.
But others struggle to love the Biden and the power of his Crazy. The Los Angeles Times' Jonathan Chait wrote in 2007 that he couldn't get over the fact that Biden was actually running given his flights of ridiculousness and "cluelessness" on the political trail.
Biden looks as if he’s the product of a laboratory experiment designed to create the world’s worst presidential candidate. If the Obama gaffe doesn’t knock him out of the race, something else will. I doubt he makes it to Iowa.
Yes, Biden’s very knowledgeable and dedicated. But to win the presidency, you actually have to be good at mass politics. Why is Biden not smart enough to recognize that? -- "Joe Biden's just a barrel of gaffes"
Ordinarily, this all would trouble me, but I'm copacetic about it now. Let his gums get to flapping. Say whatever is in that Crazy little head. Because you know what? It doesn't matter. There was no vice president selection Obama could have made that would have shut up the naysayers. All his choices were bad. Clinton has the votes but if you go with her then the circus is back in town with Chris Matthews getting high of his Hillary supply. Everyone else from Evan Byah to Tim Kaine to Kathleen Sebelius sounded ridiculous. Why not Biden?
When he's not being offensive he's rather inoffensive. He's a bit of a crier (I was shocked he didn't bawl all over his son, Beau, after he introduced him), but he's a man so he should be able to get away with it. He'll go after the Republicans like a junkyard dog. He's been in the senate forever so he's vetted. No dead hookers should be showing up in his closet. He's not going to upstage Obama (like anyone could) and is likely to be fiercely loyal. In his own failure to become president he's probably just a gleeful Charlie Bucket, happy to secure himself on Obama's "golden" ticket.
I look forward to this odd paring of rising star and old dude, resembling some wacky buddy cop comedy from the 80s like "48 Hours" or "Lethal Weapon." Maybe it will be fun. Maybe they'll be able to convince us when Biden starts talking like Biden that it's really part of the script. He was supposed to read the laugh line that way. He was supposed to froth at the mouth and spew a trail of expletives. Maybe Obama's staff will be able to switch up and make it cool. Like Biden's just a mad dog's worth of "awesome," tearing into the hides of the opposition. Rules? That Crazy Mad Dog Joe Biden doesn't have any rules! He'll keep it realer than real.
Or he'll embarrass the shit out of himself. Either way. It doesn't really matter.