Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Joe Biden and his big mouth enter presidential race

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So Joe Biden is the latest Democrat to join the fray for '08. Fine. I don't always agree with him, but he's a straight shooter, in a wild, reckless sort of way, and I think his foreign policy experience will be a positive addition to the race. If nothing else -- and, let's face it, he has no real shot at the nomination -- he'll force the other candidates, the legitimate contenders, to address issues like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Darfur with something other than carefully crafted spin. The fact that he has no real shot at the nomination -- he may not know it now, but he will -- provides him a nothing-to-lose freedom, and that freedom will allow him to speak his mind freely.

But while his big mouth may prove to be of benefit to the race, and of service to the other candidates, his tendency to stick his foot in mouth with rhetorical blunder after embarrassing rhetorical blunder could prove to be a disservice both to himself and to his party. Consider what he said recently about Barack Obama: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

He's being hammered for that one. Although it's probable that he just didn't express his point clearly enough, the perception of ignorance and bias has fueled the 24/7 news machine. What did he say? What did he mean? It's all much ado about not much at all, but it takes but an inkling of scandal for speculation to explode. Did he say, did he mean, that other African-Americans in the mainstream are not articulate, not bright, not clean, and not nice-looking? Hmmm.

Anyway, I don't intend here to add any more fuel to the machine. He said what he said and shouldn't have said it. But I highly doubt that this was Biden's Michael Richards moment. We didn't witness the emergence of the real Joe Biden, the heretofore hidden bigot. Biden is a straight shooter, and at times he should think more before he speaks, but he isn't a racist.

All the explosive speculation, all the much ado, makes for some excitement at a time when fabricated excitement is all there is. Political junkies need something to talk about even when there's nothing going on.

So let's get back to the race, or whatever race there is -- and let's get past Biden's stupid remark.

Joy to the world.

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