How many times have I sat by these past few years, outraged by the ridicluousness of the lies told by the right? How many times have I watched Obama cave to their demands - extending their tax cuts, giving in on Guantanamo Bay - only to watch his stone face as he is vilified by the backlash on both sides? How many times have I admired his quiet resolution, his refusal to bow to the masses, his refusal to “spike the ball” and sing his own praises, to list his accomplishments in so blatant a term that no one in this country can claim that his administration has been a failure?
The number is incalculable.
But this election season, a tide is turning. I’m seeing the President I voted for, not only the guy with a sharp intellect who rallies the people with his orator’s tongue, but the man who does not bow down to his enemy, who not only ducks the mud flung, but scoops up some of his own, finally, and sends it back from whence it came.
Oh, and Biden. The VP makes an easy target. He’s been in the game so long, it’s old hat. Except maybe he’s a bit too comfortable, fat and happy in his role on the Hill. He’s got the point and wink greeting down pat and he’s just as at home in front of the press as he is on his commuter train back to Delaware.
Much has been made of his gaffes. Slips of phrase that vary from the perfectly coiffed words of his superior. So much so that his many accomplishments get lost in the caricature, as the right insists that he is not up to the job, or worse, a disgrace to the office. This, from the people who have so little regard for the people for whom they purport to serve that they attempted to sneak Sarah Palin past them, believing empty, memorized speeches could satisfy the requirements for the second highest office in the country. This, from those who have presented Paul Ryan as a shiny new penny to reinvigorate their base, since the top of the ticket has left everyone far less than vigorated. The Christian right who feel so strongly that there should be a partnership between church and state, yet throw their support behind a Mormon and a Catholic who worships an atheist. Because the news told them that their Christian President is a Muslim.
Only in America, kids.
So Biden made a gaffe - or did he? Did Biden go so far that he actually let an apt metaphor escape his lips? By stating that the Romney/Ryan campaign represents the unraveling of the Dodd/Frank law on Wall Street that would “put y’all back in chains” if repealed, he was effectively saying that the middle class would be voting against their own self-interest by supporting these candidates. But more than that: he was saying that these candidates’ policies would chain - restrict, capture, enslave - the middle class to economic policies from which they could not escape.
Much of his audience was black. So here comes the backlash, from the likes of Giuliani, Palin, and McCain. In this hunting season of a presidential campaign of who’s more racist, Biden is called a “disgrace” and is urged to step down to make way for Hilary Clinton. Oh, Hilary will be on the ticket in 2016, folks, don’t you worry. But will Obama and Biden give in to the vitriol and bow their heads in mock indignation after the accusations of those who pretend to outrage when really, really, they are high on the discovery of a “gaffe,” something they desperately hope will give them traction? Are they offended? No. Does everybody know this? Yes.
Will Obama and Biden continue to play their game?
Not this time. As Joan Walsh reported in her piece “Biden Was Right,” Biden not only refused to apologize, but clarified his remarks so that their intention would not and could not be mistaken by anyone. Unless, of course, one wants to be offended, mistaken, and outraged. This seems to be the winning sentiment of the opposition. And Obama, bless his heart, came straight out with the truth of just exactly what it is we’re looking at: a campaign, an entertainment program designed for drama, excitement, and high stakes emotion.
And none of it is real.
“The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that’s not how it was meant,” Obama said.
Thank you for not apologizing. Thank you for standing up. Thank you for speaking sense in plain language.
Welcome back, Mr. President.
And Joe, thank you for finally spiking the ball: "I know I am sometimes criticized for saying exactly what I mean. And it's not going to change."