So Much for Biden

Today, on the front page of the New York Times, the headline was Biden Unwraps His Bid for ’08 With an Oops!

“In an era of meticulous political choreography, the staging of the kickoff for this presidential candidacy could hardly have gone worse.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who announced his candidacy on Wednesday with the hope that he could ride his foreign policy expertise into contention for the Democratic nomination, instead spent the day struggling to explain his description of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat running for president, as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” “

It was also prominently mentioned on several liberal blogs.

Oh come on. Is this really what presidential politics has come to? Biden is a serious politician, and a serious candidate. Like him or not, his candidacy should not be a joke, he’s a responsible senator with lots of experience to bring to the race, and to the office.

He deserves better than this. He deserves better than to announce his candidacy, and instantly be grilled about another candidate. He deserves better than to have a pretty innocuous remark thrown all out of proportion. He deserves better than to spend the rest of the day having to talk about Obama and his remark about Obama instead of making a case for himself as president. He deserves better than for this to be front-page news. He deserves better than to have the entire article focused solely on the horserace, with not one single word about Biden’s own qualifications or his own reasons for seeking the Presidency.

And we deserve better. We deserve better than to have truly racist politicians ignored, while those who don’t speak the right codeword are excoriated. We deserve better then to have Democrats with policy experience mocked, and those without to be cheered on as “outsiders”. We deserve better than to have candidates eliminated from the race for trivial reasons. And mostly, we don’t deserve to have yet another electoral campaign reported as a horserace. This is why the media is broken, they simply are unable to report substance.

Update: To cap it off, Biden may not have even said exactly that. The punctuation makes a huge difference. It looks like he said, “the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” or “the first mainstream African-American. Who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” More details are at TPM, these two posts sum it up.

3 thoughts on “So Much for Biden”

  1. In an ideal world all of that would be the way we do campaigns, but that ain’t how it works and I wouldn’t expect changes to come anytime soon. Clearly Biden is not a racist, and those who say he is are freakin’ stoopid.

    However, mistakes are unacceptable in presidential campaigns, and Biden essentially took himself out of the running on day one. He was probably never in the running to begin with. Take all the annoying qualities of our last nominee (creature of Washington, goes on and on when he speaks, contradicts himself) and multiply them by three, and you get Joe Biden.

    Obama is a lightweight (he picked up smoking during the “Stressful” Senate campaign which he won by about 60 points) and Edwards has equally minimal experience.

    There is probably only one candidate on the democratic side who has proven to be a top-notch politician who is almost always on message, knows what not to say, and is more than up to the task of handling the pressure, scrutiny and assorted other nonsense that comes along with a presidential campaign. (I think you know her name…)

  2. I agree with most of this, except for “However, mistakes are unacceptable in presidential campaigns, and Biden essentially took himself out of the running on day one.”

    You live in the real world of politics more than me. I can’t argue that’s not how it works these days, my point is that it shouldn’t. A candidate should be able to a mistake. And Biden didn’t take himself out, he was taken out, by a gossip-obsessed media that couldn’t care less about who actually governs the most powerful country on earth.

  3. Actually, I think we agree. I wasn’t saying that mistakes should be unacceptable, just that they are unacceptable.

    Fair point that Biden was taken out (though it remains to be seen officially) by a gossip-crazed media, but as a 30 year veteran of the process running for President for the second time, he should be able to adapt. (Again, ideally he shouldn’t have to adapt, but presidential campaigns aren’t ideal.)

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