While talking points in the media have focused on Sarah Palin’s numerous political gaffes and how Barack Obama is too polite and well spoken to win the presidency, perhaps the most experienced and politically saavy candidate for office has been largely ignored. I am speaking about Senator Joe Biden, who has continually impressed me with each speech that he delivers. Biden offers not only an extensive grasp on the realities of the challenges facing the United States, but also the rhetorical cadence required to convey intensely complicated issues of foreign policy and economics to ordinary Americans. If Biden continues to be as brilliant on the ground as he has been in recent weeks, his selection for the vice-presidential slot on the Democratic ticket over Hilary Clinton could provide to be decisive.
Today Biden spoke from the battleground state of Ohio, where he addressed a moderately sized audience in Maumee. Using the disastrous performance of Wall Street as ammunition, Biden took on the vagueries and double talk of McCain’s financial rhetoric. He succintly explained that the philosophy of economics that both McCain and the Bush administration rely upon, unbridled free-market capitalism, is untenable and will destroy the middle class. He outlined specific legislation that would prevent investment banks and hedge funds from engaging in leveraged debt without transparency and oversight. Biden also, unlike anyone I’ve ever seen give a speech, quickly and clearly explained the implications of the Chinese and Saudis purchasing American debt through treasury notes. He didn’t stumble like Gore or chastise like Kerry, but confidently espoused policy proposals with good old fashioned oratory.
More than anything, Biden demonstrated once again that humor and ironic disbelief go a long way in holding political discourse to some standard of accountability. Making frequent jokes and mocking the obvious inconsistancies of McCain’s campaign, Biden made the Republican ticket look foolish. With respect to McCain’s recent flip-flopping on the question of government regulation on Wall Street, Biden chided, “Ladies and gentlemen, at 9AM yesterday, John McCain had stated again that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Two hours later, literally, at eleven o’clock, I’m not making this up, John had, as we Catholics say, an epiphany. At eleven o’clock, John McCain said we are in a deep financial crisis!…If you asked anyone between here and Cleveland, you wouldn’t find a single person who said the economy is doing well right now. That is, of course, unless you bumped into John McCain.” At this moment, Biden reminded me not of an experienced Senator but of John Stewart, Trey Parker, and Steven Colbert. Finally – a Democratic politician who sees the necessity of informed mockery. That is precisely what Obama needs in counterbalance to his professionalism and quiet dignity to win this election. I’m so tired of Democratic candidates skulking to the media that the bullies aren’t playing nice on the playground. Biden knows how to deal with lying, cheating bullies. And he is.
Biden has shown that he is not afraid of the culture war politics of Karl Rove by rejecting outright the contention that Democratic ideas are incommensurable with small-town values. He has shown a contempt for the Republican Party that is nothing less than a breath of fresh air. Drawing frequent applause for Obama and boos for McCain, Biden has succeeded in delivering the kinds of speeches to change and create votes for his ticket. I have been waiting for three elections to see someone who has the candor to take up a popular vernacular and use it convincingly to explain the actual policy stances of the Democratic Party. Start listening to Joe Biden, he is the voice you’ve been waiting to hear.
You can find a partial tape of the Maumee gathering here: