Thursday, February 01, 2007

Biden Says ...

...what everyone was already thinking:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical—albeit in a slightly more backhanded way—about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that’s a storybook, man."

So naturally he gets in trouble.

Look, I have no love for Joe Biden and I hope his career really is over. But this comment seems pretty innocuous to me. The first word that comes to mind when I look at Barack Obama is "clean". (Clean-cut would probably be better, but no one says that anymore. Sounds too naive, too dorky.) And Obama's campaign has tried to project that image... clean as in wholesome, honest, not corrupted by the system. Does anyone honestly think that Biden meant to imply that all other black people are dirty? Or even all other black candidates? Only in Washington DC.

Any stick will do to beat a dog, and Joe Biden can use a good beating. But, really, is this the sort of discourse that we want in our political culture? Seems it wasn't too long ago that conservatives were complaining about the loss of decorum in politics. This is not the sort of thing that will restore it, if it was ever there.

Update: Obama responds graciously and comes off looking ... clean:
Asked about Mr. Biden's comments, Mr. Obama said in an interview, "I didn't take it personally and I don't think he intended to offend." Mr. Obama, who serves with Mr. Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee, added, "But the way he constructed the statement was probably a little unfortunate."

But later in the day, with Mr. Biden coming under fire from some black leaders, Mr. Obama issued a statement that approached a condemnation. "I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate," he said. "African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

Good job! Focus on the issue of articulateness and just pretend the C-word never happened. This, people, is how you present an image of honesty and integrity.

By contrast look at Sharpton's comment:
Mr. Sharpton said that when Mr. Biden called him to apologize, Mr. Sharpton started off the conversation reassuring Mr. Biden about his hygienic practices. "I told him I take a bath every day," Mr. Sharpton said.

Probably more likely to get repeated than Obama's response, but ultimately lowering the discourse. I don't care how many baths Sharpton takes, he's still dirty and this sort of comment just proves it.

Update: Biden attempts to explain what he really meant and digs himself even deeper:
"The word that got me in trouble is using the word 'clean.' I should have said 'fresh.' What I meant is: he's got new ideas."

Sorry, Joe, but no one is going to buy this. If you had followed my advice and stuck with clean-cut, you'd have been better off. Everyone understood what you meant the first time, but now you not only look like a bigger idiot and a dishonest one at that.

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