Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Sweet Biden, Bye

As a reporter, I covered Joe Biden 30 years ago, and have always liked him. Joe Biden? Yes, the senator from Delaware, the state whose economy is based on being the legal home of nearly every corporation and on toll roads you must take if you want to get to Philadelphia, New York or Boston by car from everywhere between Miami Baltimore.

There is nobody smarter or more articulate. At one point there was no one with worse hair plugs either, but over time, Biden’s head has grown into his hair and he has grown into an expert in foreign policy, civil liberties and just about everything else as befits someone who was elected to the Senate 35 years ago, before he was age-eligible to serve.

Biden also has a classic case of logorrhea, the inability to restrain any thought from being spoken. He paces the Senate waxing Shakespearian in voice and gesture about matters great and tiny.

As political junkies know by know, on his first official day as a presidential wannabe he was quoted as saying of Senate colleague and fellow presidential contender, Barack Obama:

I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.

Boom! The one trait that reporters love about Biden is his willingness – indeed, compulsion – to say what he is thinking and avoid the cliché. And that’s what got him into trouble while actually praising a political adversary.

The word was not “first,” nor “mainstream,” nor “bright,” nor “clean” (meaning clean-cut), nor “nice-looking.” It was “articulate.”

Biden is 64 years old, and as liberal and nonracist as they come. But he fell back on a word that must rankle every black person with at least a high school education. The subtext was created by generations of sportscasters who when they say “articulate” mean a large black athlete whose interviews can be understood and who seem to get along with patronizing whites.

O.J. Simpson is articulate.

So is Barack Obama. And so, really, is Joe Biden, a man who I think should be president if for no other reason than he would outterrorize the terrorists and put annoying punks like Hugo Chavez to sleep, just by opening his mouth.

But he won't get the chance. Americans prefer the vacuous -- in sex partners, American Idols and, most of all, in their leaders.


I am way behind in my reading, but during an interview with Fox the same day the Biden-Obama story broke, President Bush said of the Illinois senator:

He’s an attractive guy. He’s articulate. I’ve been impressed with him when I’ve seen him in person.

1 comment:

  1. When I heard the quote, I thought it was a clunky attempt at a Boy Scout ref--clean in thought, word, and deed. Maybe a little ironical. Then after being masticated for hours on cable, it came out as Biden saying African-Americans smelled bad or something. Obama should have said: "Hey, Joe, I love you, too" and left it at that.