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January 31, 2007

Comments

Commas are important. You've chosen a particular version of the quote (twice) - if there's no reason to know the other is likelier to be accurate, you ought I think to chose the less unreasonable reading, esp. if it's irrelevant to your argument.

Anyway, I agree that I seldom hear him speak without wishing I hadn't.

"Anyway, I agree that I seldom hear him speak without wishing I hadn't."

I have personal experience to the contrary, from my law school graduation. He managed to turn the speech which we later found out was plagarized from Neil Kinnock into a decent graduation speech.

On the other hand, I strongly agree with hilzoy's "And since, for a change, the Democrats are fielding a number of genuinely interesting candidates, I honestly don't see what we'd lose if Joe Biden dropped out of consideration altogether.", and I especially don't think we need a President who is in the pocket of the credit card industry.

Was it during Roberts's or Alito's confirmation hearings that Biden whipped out a basehall hat as some sort of ill-judged rhetorical gesture? I just had to sigh at that.

The partition plan is distressing to me because no matter how much sense it might make, we don't have any authority to go in and start redrawing all of Iraq's borders. We could propose it, we could help mediate it, we could even provide security for it, but imposing borders and relocating populations in putatively sovereign countries are essentially imperial functions. We shouldn't run toward those kinds of solutions.

This isn't the first time Biden's been in hot water re: race (Hotline On Call has more).

Also, Cordesman has a CSIS report on the dangers of partitioning Iraq available here (PDF).

I won't shed any tears if this sinks him. His work on the bankruptcy bill is in the top ten most destructive things Congress has accomplished in the last six years.

rilkefan: I was just cutting and pasting from the only published source. Still, point taken; I can't insert a comma into the article, but I'll try to update to make the point.

(Though for what it's worth, the audio didn't sound nearly as different to me as it seems to have sounded to Josh Marshall.)

TPM now says, "when you listen to the audio of what Biden said, I think it's clear that it's a misleading transcription."

Score one for benefit-of-the-doubtery.

Above xed with hilzoy's comment.

Fairly or not, I bet this sinks him. Which is fine with me, for all the reasons already stated.

His best feature -- expertise on foreign policy -- makes him a decent Senator

Expertise = often wrong?

Meh.

It's STILL an unfortunate phrasing from Bidon on Obama--mow it's just a little patronizing instead of oozing with it.

OT: Greenwald is (as always) worth reading - this article about the GOP and its fluid view of Congress' war powers is very interesting. IMO.

Pooh: I actually thought about what to say there. He does have expertise (= he knows a lot), and that's something to offer. I deliberately didn't say he had good judgment (though iirc he was quite good on Kosovo.)

Pssh. Comma or not, his comment is still an unfortunate riff on the 'well spoken neegro' meme, one I'm all too familiar with.

Pooh: I actually thought about what to say there. He does have expertise (= he knows a lot), and that's something to offer. I deliberately didn't say he had good judgment (though iirc he was quite good on Kosovo.)

Well sure. But expertise without judgment strikes me as a "using my powers for evil" thing. Not to make the comparison at all with Biden, but John Yoo has legal expertise.

It's an unfortunate comment, and I'd be glad enough to see Biden out. I feel much the way I did about Kerry's botched joke, which is to say that I'm not sorry about the outcome but I am worried about the precedent. It's dangerous to our politics that gaffes have such huge effects. The feeding frenzies over things like the Dean scream are unhealthy.

I agree in principle, KC, but I don't see any way you can parse Biden's statement that isn't at least bordering on patronizing. I suppose if he'd have said "trying to be the first African-AMerican President, who is..." that would be different.

I don't understand, Pooh. You think "mainstream" is the offensive part? I assume from context he's talking about presidential candidates. I haven't heard it because I haven't been able to upgrade from Flash 7 (I'm on Linux), and the video requires 8.

What is really silly about Biden's comment is that it comes literally the day he announces his candidacy. The day he's *hoping* to make the news! It's just, well, not inspiring confidence.

Joe, Joe, Joe...

I keep seeing this in the "recent comments" sidebar and keep thinking "spam spam spam spam."

KCinDC - I'd compare this more to Allen's macaca moment rather than the 'Dean Scream', ie, more substantial. I doubt Biden's intent was malicious (he probably thought he was paying Obama a compliment), but that doesn't excuse the inappropriateness of the comment.

Try to imagine Biden describing (eg) John Edwards as 'articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy' in the same context. The unspoken implication in Biden's comments is that (some? most?) people of colour are inarticulate, stupid and unkempt.

Speaking from (bitter) experience here.

I don't understand, Pooh. You think "mainstream" is the offensive part?

Not exactly. If he had said it the way I posited, he at least arguably was listing the things that Obama had going for him. Potentially first black President? Check. Articulate, bright, attractive, clean? Check. (Still, "clean"?)

As he said it, its still inescapable that he's saying that Obama "speaks so well" as Chris Rock might say.

I'm with matttbastard here. I think it helps to add the antecedent, as in:

Hillary Clinton is the first mainstream woman who's articulate and bright and clean and professional-looking. ('Nice-looking' altered, since in talking about a woman that would be its own separate and unrelated problem.)

Al Gore is the first mainstream environmentalist who's articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.

Sam Brownback is the first mainstream member of Opus Dei who's articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. (And so open, too: not the secretive embittered priest we might have expected!)

Fair enough, matttbastard, though I actually would have felt more uncomfortable about the "macaca" firestorm if there hadn't been a mountain of other racist Allen incidents to go with it.

I wonder if the opposite of "clean" might be "corrupt" rather than "unkempt", though, since we're talking about politicians, not homeless people. Not that that helps.

I keep thinking of Fuzzy Zoeller for some reason.

I do wonder why our Gaffer-in-Chief is immune to such firestorms.

Whether he meant to or not, it came across sounding more than a little like "Obama, he's practically white."

Now me? I give Biden the benefit of the doubt -- I figure he's like one of my grandparents. He means well, but he's stuck in speech and thought patterns from about 40 years ago. He's going to keep sticking his foot in his mouth.

But that's not why I wouldn't vote for him. I wouldn't vote for him because I know who owns his butt, and I'm trying to cut down on my dependency to the credit card industry. :)

OK, so it's decided, left, right, and center, we all want Biden out of the race (presidential and master). Let's get this dirty job done.

I've heard that it's an open secret in Washington that Biden has a little intern problem of his own (and I'm talking shriveled Y chromosomes here, not just big bold X's). I won't say who my sources are, but let's just say they're fantastically credible. To all the reporters out there, do a little digging. Then you can report on how people are digging into it. Win/win.

I'm guessing that based on the first graf, Ahab's second graf was tongue-in-cheek?

"Hillary Clinton is the first mainstream woman who's articulate and bright and clean and [...]"

But this isn't the antecedent - "it's clear that it's a misleading" version.

I'm with KCinDC, clean probably means not corrupt. I wish I could hear the audio preceeding it, it sounds like he's trying to say that Obama is the first black male candidate who doesn't scare old white guys in the fly-over states, but since it's Biden, finding out what he meant could take weeks.

Pssh. Comma or not, his comment is still an unfortunate riff on the 'well spoken neegro' meme, one I'm all too familiar with.

But then again, you are.

*runs like hell*

LOL @ Anarch.

Dude, if I could run like that I wouldn't be running, I'd be up on stage being worshiped as is my right and due.

Although I have to say, between the trippy light show and the stench of marijuana in the hallway, I'm feeling pretty mellloww maaaaan. Awwwwwwesommmmmmmmme.

Pink Floyd: flypaper for post-grad white lefties.

And now for my revenge...

OT: I am puckish, and vibrate my eyebrows.

I had a good time at brunch too. Until trilobite showed up, there were no lawyers (other than my friend Lydia), which was a shock. But everyone was really nice, which wasn't a shock at all.

You've beaten me down, matttbastard. Now I feel like this.

[I actually liked the cover, I was just looking for an excuse to post that link.]

OT: I am puckish, and vibrate my eyebrows.

There's good money to be made in that...

I can see the headline now: Hillary Last One Standing in New Debate Format

Anarch: A former contestant?

(Kittie hails from my hometown. We share mutual friends.[/inconsequential brush with fame])

Biden doesn't have Clinton's funding sources. He doesn't have Obama's mystique. He doesn't have Edwards' populism. He doesn't have Richardson's record of foreign policy accomplishments. He's not a powerful orator.

What does he have?

The plagiarism issue, the bankruptcy bill, and a Kerry-like tone deafness combined with a great (and unwarranted) love of hearing himself speak.

Who's his constituency; who does he speak for? Credit card companies? Hah.

Biden's candidacy is third tier, at best.

I do regret not having been able to meet you all for brunch (even before I knew I'd missed experiencing the vibrating eyebrows).

Biden's on the Daily Show tonight; did this story come out in time to create the dilemma for the writers and Stewart whether to bring it up or not?

You people are missing the point

He was just inappropriately vocalizing the political stategist summary of the situation. To paraphrase "this is the first black guy who might have Denzel type appeal and might be difficult to beat". He should know better than to say it out loud. I think this should disqualify him from consideration.

He was just inappropriately vocalizing the political stategist summary of the situation. To paraphrase "this is the first black guy who might have Denzel type appeal and might be difficult to beat". He should know better than to say it out loud.

Really? Is that worse than saying, "He might have George Clooney appeal and might be difficult to beat"?

I don't think you get it at all.

Sharpton in the NYT:

"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."

There are things I like about Al Sharpton. None of them have to do with Tawana Brawley, but they do exist.

Biden's on the Daily Show tonight; did this story come out in time to create the dilemma for the writers and Stewart whether to bring it up or not?

Apparently not, since Stewart is grilling him on it right now.

Biden isn't the only white politician tasting toe jam today. (At least we expect this sort of thing from the Prez).

Matt, that's what I mean about his immunity to firestorms. Remember his earlier remarks in which he accused war opponents of racism while simultaneously assuming that everyone listening was white:

There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern.

There are things I like about Al Sharpton. None of them have to do with Tawana Brawley, but they do exist.

Well, he made a clever remark, but I think the Democrats would do well to stay away from Mr. Sharpton, whose sins go well beyond the Brawley matter.

Mark Liberman, professor of phonetics, addresses the question of the missing comma at Language Log.

KC:

Remember his earlier remarks in which he accused war opponents of racism while simultaneously assuming that everyone listening was white

Yeah, amazing how the irony of that particular talking point managed to slip most commentators at the time.

OT (unless the topic is insanity in government officials): I suspect the City of Boston is really going to regret arresting these two guys just because their own security officials can't tell the difference between a bomb and a Lite Brite.

(Full disclosure: I did a tiny bit of work on the cartoon in question a few years back, and still do some contracting work for Turner.)

Oops, I actually meant that comment to be OT on the Bush/bulldozer thread.

Joe Biden should simply SHUT UP!

For someone who talks as much as Biden does, you'd think he'd be better at it.

Hogan, that's one of my standing puzzlements. How do so many officials spend so much time making public addresses without getting better at it?

This incident could have been tailor made for Obama. Really, Biden is hardly worth the smackdown. What it points to is the way everybody is going to leap to Barack's defense. In this sense Kos was correct to say if he runs, he wins, with this caveat, that he can disqualify himself. But no one else will be able to disqualify him. It's not Teflon. It is something that no Democrat has received since Teddy had his accident: the benefit of the doubt.

Realignment has already occurred and now it will play out. Other candidates will be listened to and considered, and their campaigns are professional enough to swing the outcome in certain states. But most people's assumptions are so 2006 right now. Obama is crystallizing a perfect storm of rejection of Republicans, and chaos in the economy after 2007 will add to the force.

You saw what a trifle sufficed to extinguish Kerry. Now Biden, hardly more than a botched joke in the first place. There will be other gaffes. If Obama makes a few, he will get the benefit of the doubt. But some other candidates might get the Kerry treatment.

The MSM does not really manufacture reality. What they do very well is put out feelers for what people are willing to think, and then they feel safe in presenting it. If people were writing thousands of letters asking for fairness or forgiveness for Biden, he'd be getting it.

If anybody is manifestly unfair to Obama, they will get hammered in the press. If Obama makes mistakes and another candidate pounces too hard, that candidate will get blowback. If Obama shows a flaw of some kind - something I'm not sure will occur - he will get a chance to apologize, and possibly turn the whole thing into a plus.

Everybody of sense respects Mrs. Clinton highly and I have nothing bad to say about her. But she will not get the benefit of the doubt like Obama. I could talk about why this is but I'd rather wait until the phenomenon is clearer. On the other hand, if Hillary gets caught conniving, her image may suffer. That this piece of the narrative is already in service appeared in the Fox "Muslim school" story.

The presence of Obama in the race itself insures a higher degree of candidate comity. Every venue at which Obama is present will be more civil than would otherwise have been the case.

Assuming all this does happen, is it fair? Of course. You think of the process as in danger from manipulation; but in such cases the public manipulates events as much as the media manipulate the public.

All this occurs basically because the candidates are brands that will give birth to styles that will foster brands and drive sales, etc., etc. An old style is about to shuffle off. The story about Bush walking into a Peoria diner and being virtually ignored seems telling. Bush has been x'd. The people, in their minds, have moved beyond him.

There's a long way to go, but with the withdrawal plan and the FOX freezeout, Obama has shown that he can, you should pardon the expression, get his shot off before the defense can react.


What ou have outlined is one ofthhe reasons I want so badly for Obama to be our candidate and for Clinton not to be.

Bruce Baugh: It's extremely odd. I know public speaking is a standard phobia, but it's also something you can learn and practice and improve at. You'd think a year or so in Toastmasters International would be part of the standard training. I wonder how much attention politicians pay to their campaign skills after their first win.

What does making a gaffe in an interview have to do with public speaking?

What does making a gaffe in an interview have to do with public speaking?

I would assume public speaking includes extemporaneous speaking, part of which is listening ahead and editing what you're about to say on the fly. The fact that the public isn't in the room when you're speaking doesn't make an interview less public. (And it's not like Biden's problems with speaking are limited to interviews.)

You owe Senator Biden an apology. Unless, that is, you've decided to put the harshest possible interpretation onto ALL politicians uttereances.

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