The Blog

Required Reading: The Joe Biden Experience

11:33 AM, Aug 26, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

From National Review Online, "A Couple More Cents on Biden" by Jay Nordlinger
A_Thousand_Monkeys.bmp

If I were running the conservative punditocracy, the first thing I would do is chain Jay Nordlinger to his laptop like one of those monkeys in "Last Exit to Springfield" in order to force him to turn out more copy. Check out this post from The Corner yesterday. Pure gold:

I know I've expressed my amazement about Biden - but I just want to put in another word. For weeks and months, reporters wrote about Obama's vice-presidential list. It had many people on it. And among those people were Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. And I always thought, "That's not real - that's just lip-service to former candidates. Former candidates and party elders. That's just a courtesy."

And blow me down: Obama goes ahead and picks Biden.

I swear, when Biden flashes those choppers and gets that look on his face - "Well, lemme tell you, pal!" - I want to toss.

And do you remember his nauseating "shove it down his throat" performance?

Some readers have asked me, "Okay, who do you think the best pick for Obama would have been?" I think he had many good options. I might have gone with Gov. Ed Rendell, who, unfortunately, is a fabulous politician (he beat the great Lynn Swann, among others) and is very likable and reasonable-seeming. He is not a Left ideologue. He is not a college Marxist. He's a good Democratic Joe, and talented.

One more thing about him: He doesn't seem to be a hater. This is what I said about Joe Lieberman back in 2000. You just knew that Gore hated you (if you were a conservative or Republican or had the tiniest doubt about extreme environmentalism). And you knew that Kerry hated you. I don't find that about Rendell.

Same with Tony Blair, as I've long said. One of his strengths as a politician is - he doesn't hate you, even if you're on the other side. Hate does not seem to reside in him. But Barack, Michelle, Hillary, Biden, Dodd - I've dealt with that type all my life. These people are a dime a dozen in Ann Arbor. You virtually trip over them when you get up to go to the bathroom.

And they'd rather boil Bob Bork in oil than talk to the man.

As brilliant as this little essay is, I'd make a distinction between Biden and some of the real haters like Al Gore. To my eyes, Biden doesn't seem to really hate, but rather considers it his responsibility to bring an undue amount of unthinking pugnacity to his political chores. The net effect is of course the same. Whether Biden treated Robert Bork as he did out of hatred or a sense of partisan duty hardly matters at the end of the day.

A couple of days ago I mentioned that like a lot of people who read Richard Ben Cramer's seminal "What It Takes," I had a soft spot for Biden. The book communicated that there was something likable, perhaps even lovable, beneath all the bull and blarney that are so intrinsic to the Joe Biden experience. I've long had that sense of Biden - that beneath the surface of smirking logorrhea, there lurks a decent guy. But that doesn't change the fact that he often practices an indecent form of politics. And it also doesn't change the fact that he's among the least thoughtful and least insightful members of the United States Senate.

And that's saying something.