Friday, October 12, 2012


Hi, I'm back -- and thanks, Tom and Crank and Libby, for the Biden posts.

I was away from a TV during the debate, but I heard quite a bit of it on radio, cheering and fist-pumping much of the time, and then I was able to watch some clips. I was happy to see that the CBS snap poll of uncommitteds showed Biden winning handily. But then the subsequent polls looked worse -- and now I see that the GOP's top spin message, that Biden smiled too much and chortled too much and did all sorts of rude things, was eagerly picked up by the mainstream press.

So now that's going to be the entire low-information-voter takeaway from the debate: that Biden was horribly disrespectful. Nothing he said will be remembered.

But being disrespectful isn't an unforgivable sin in American politics. All kinds of politicians are disrespectful and still deemed worthy of respect. The problem the right has with Biden, and the mainstream press has with Biden, is that he was disrespectful to the wrong kind of person. He was disrespectful on behalf of the wrong kind of people.

Mainstream journalists and the right agree that it's fine to be disrespectful if your disrespect is aimed at, say, unionized teachers -- that's why the mainstream press shares the right's profound admiration for Chris Christie. Mainstream journalists also loved Rudy Giuliani and his predecessor and doppelganger, Ed Koch, for attacking targets such as homeless people and civil rights leaders; at the end of Giuliani's mayoral term, the press even forgot (or glossed over) the fact that his disrespect could even extend to an innocent man shot to death by cops.

And people will ties to Massachusetts will remember John Silber, the culturally troglodytic president of Boston University who nearly became governor of Massachusetts in 1990. Silber died last month; go read the lengthy, admiring New York Times obituary ("A philosopher by training but a fighter by instinct") -- then ask yourself why none of this made it in:
In one speech he argued that funds for medical care be redirected from the old and infirm to the young, declaring. "When you've had a long life and you're ripe, then it's time to go." Earlier, he suggested none too obliquely that Cambodian emigres were settling in Massachusetts primarily to take advantage of the state's generous welfare programs. And only last month, asked why he had not delivered an address in Boston's predominantly black Roxbury area, Silber shot back: "There's no point in my making a speech on crime control to a bunch of drug addicts."
That quote is from a 1990 article in People magazine; the Times obit was far more gentle because, hell, Silber didn't attack anyone important, did he? He had -- oh, how did the Times put it? -- "a tigerish ferocity that delighted admirers and enraged critics."

Biden's error was attacking a Golden Boy of the Beltway -- and attacking him on behalf of ordinary citizens. You can be a milquetoast liberal and the press won't mind -- but act a bit rude on behalf of regular Joes and the press has to find the fainting couch.

That was Biden's grievous offense. If he'd been that rude to the head of a teachers' union, in exactly the same way he was rude to Ryan, the chatterers would be talking about erecting a statue in his honor.


kabiddle said...

Paul Ryan is miraculously still a teenager.

How does a Vice Presidential candidate go viral with dumbells and a hat on backwards because Time magazine asked him to do it? The day before his most important national debate debut? About the world and his potential responsibility for it?

Ryan doesn't have the good sense to take a pass at such stupid theatrics.

Victor said...

Nice photo's of Paul Ryan, 'The Fresh Prince of Hot Air,' working out, eh?

Uhm, Paulie,
You do realize that workout program you follow has a way to build up those Big Bird legs, don't you?

Poor, poor MSM.
You spent almost a decade building up "The Fresh Prince of Hot Air" into a some sort of serious policy wonk and deficit hawk.
The meme became he was the Einstein of the beltway - 'da man wid da numbah's 'n da plan.'

They were impressed since the time they asked him, 'Need a calculator, Congressman Ryan?'

And he sneered, and said, "Calculator? I don' neeeeed no steeeeeeeeekin' calculator!"

And then The Fresh Prince of Hot Air was taken to toy with silly Ol' Uncle Joe.
'Hey, c'mon, let's watch The Fresh Prince of Hot Air school that old fool! Bring the popcorn, this should be fun!'

And instead of getting schooled on national TV, Ol' Uncle Joe slapped The Fresh Prince of Hot Air, gave him a wedgie, pulled down his pants, and spanked him - laughing the whole time.

Poor, poor, MSM!
You spent years building this petulant man-child up, and all it took was 90 minutes for Joe Biden to tear him apart.

Don't get mad at Uncle Joe, MSM. You forgot he's only used to your echo chamber questions, and not being confronted in a debate with a man who loves, loves, LOVES, to debate.
Don't blame Uncle Joe 'cause his handlers sent some checkers playing man-child to challenge the Grand Master of chess, and old man laughed and toyed with their petulant little protege.

Sh*t, if he could, Joe's still be out there debating, except that petulant little man-child crapped himself when Ol' Uncle Joe spanked him in front of the whole world.

Hey Republicans, not only does your Emperor Mitt have no clothes, as I'm sure Barack will prove this week, neither does your Emperor-in-waiting.

Peter said...

RE: John Silber:

1) Silber didn't attack anyone important, did he?
It is conventional wisdom around Boston that he lost the election because he was disrespectful of Natalie Jacobson of WCVB, then the queen news anchor of Boston TV.

2) He was an anti-semite, which I now from personal conversation with him.

He was a pure rat bastard, is what he was.

Yastreblyansky said...

I'm hopeful that you're wrong on this--Biden's "right to be disrespectful" was so clear to the TV watcher. They've been trying to cast him as a buffoon for years now, and he just isn't one. Leno jokes or Onion articles just make him more lovable. Speaks working-class English but knows his stuff cold (and the political reporters don't know it at all, that's why they want to tear him down: how dare he be smarter than me when he went to the wrong college).

Steve M. said...

You're right about Natalie Jacobsen, Peter -- though that's another moment in Silber's life that didn't make t into his Times obit. Guess it was just the ignorant rabble who were offended by his rudeness to Jacobsen.