October 24, 2008

The Candor of Joe Biden

For most of his adult life, Joe Biden has been rather factually challenged, apparently believing that saying stuff REALLY LOUDLY!!!, and pedantically reiterating obvious falsehoods??Let me repeat, I?m just a poor coal miner’s son??lends his bloviation a patina of veracity and authority. 

But this past week, Joe Biden had his moment of truth of candor. Here it is, as reported by ABC News:

?It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.?

?I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. ?And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you?not financially to help him?we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.

Some Republican-leaning bloggers, Ross Douthat among them, quickly jumped on the statement, calling it a major gaffe: Biden admitted that the bad guys will try to ?test the mettle? of Barack Obama, and the ?youthful,? ?inexperienced? senator might not be up to the task. The McCain campaign then picked up on Biden?s statement. Mac mentioned it in a NBC interview (?I?ve been tested?) and has just cut a new commercial based on it (again asking Republican voters to trust his good friend in the Senate: Obama isn?t ready to lead.)

But in the scramble for an embarrassing sound bite, the context of Biden?s remark has been lost. Senator Joe wasn?t talking to a room of GWOT hawks, but was speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in downtown Seattle, before the kind of audience that would have collectively nodded if Obama had informed them of pathological rednecks’ ?clinging to their guns and religion.? Moreover, Biden was pleading for the rich liberals to stand with Obama in this imminent international crisis because ?it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.?

Biden seems to have warned the wealthy Seattle crowd that Obama?s foreign policy might not be too much to its liking, nor to that of its political tribunals like Moveon.org and The HuffPost. [UPDATE: And let’s remember that, as Pat has just pointed out, qua chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden gets the same intel as the president.]   

Though Democrats and Republicans like to trump up what are ultimately methodological differences in foreign foreign??diplomacy? vs. ?won?t sit down with dictators,? ?multilateralism? vs. ?act along? etc. etc.?both camps are in full agreement on non-negotiables and the basic trajectory of American foreign policy: Iran must not be allowed to get nukes, we all love Israel (i.e we?ll fund and support the Israelis unconditionally), and Putin and Russia are mostly likely evil.

But the far Left of the Democratic Party, which is, at the moment, in the tank for Obama, is much less at peace with these contentions than the centers of both parties and the neocon Right. Biden is thus ultimately asking the Lefty Big Money to ?gird [its] loins? for a coming left-wing revolt against Obama when he, say, does a little bombing run over Iran or launches a major counter insurgency during his expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

We of course know who will be supporting Obama whenever he does anything hawkish?much of the GOP base. The second the Left starts harshly criticizing the president and the ?men in uniform,? the antennae of those in the McCain Megachurch will pop up, and they?ll start sounding the ?Anti-American? alarm bells. McCain?s most avid supporters will get behind Obama in no time, and all those ?Muslim? and ?Bill Ayers? rumors will at last be long forgotten.

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