Skip to main content

About Those Gaffes

Get used to it folks. Biden without gaffes wouldn’t be Biden.

Thinking about the gaffe problem, I went back to Time magazine’s “Top 10 Joe Biden Gaffes,” most of them from the Obama years.

With the exception of the time he commented that Obama was “articulate” — which was bad enough then, but radioactive now — what the media and Republicans seized on as gaffes, and treated as major news, now look both quaint and ridiculously tame. Compared to what we now see dozens of times a day, both from the current administration and much of Congress, Biden is a master orator on the order of Cicero.

Seriously, you can read these so-called gaffes for yourself — I’m not even going there because I’d just look silly. The only thing worth mentioning is that each one was greeted at the time — both by the press and the GOP — as a sure harbinger of imminent Armageddon.

Almost all were the remarks of a guy who likes to talk, who observes things around him, and sometimes forgets that the media puts the worst possible spin on every word out of his mouth. Joe’s gaffes have always been good for ratings.

But now, this is his moment, because he couldn’t possibly out-gaffe Trump if he trained for it. Trump does more damage in a single tweet than Biden has done in his entire life. A tweet is worth a thousand gaffes.

Which is not to say the press isn’t trying to stir things up. That’s what they do.

Witness the so-called “controversy” surrounding a comment Biden made about the differences in diversity between Black and Latino communities. This was in remarks made to a group of, yes, Black and Latino journalists. And here are the offending words:

"What you all know, but most people don't know. Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is [an] incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things. You go to Florida you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you're in Arizona. So it's a very different, a very diverse community."

After reading this, are you changing your vote to Trump?

This is where the left has to lighten up. Yes, it was probably a subject Joe didn’t  have to bring up. Yes, Joe being Joe, he could have phrased it differently. And yes, he should know by now that the press is always waiting in the tall weeds, ready to pounce.

But let’s consider, also, that he was trying to make an actual point. Not a brilliant point, to be sure, but one based on observation, intellectual curiosity, and an obvious desire to make sense of the world, which — let’s face it — is not making much sense at the moment. And which Trump, by contrast, seems bent on destroying in real time.

Then let’s give Biden some credit for feeling comfortable with his audience. His first words — “What you all know, but most people don’t know” — are the most important part of the whole quote, yet they’ve gotten no attention. He is assuming common knowledge with both Black and Latino journalists, in an out-front, mutually respectful discussion. The stories you’re reading somehow leave that out.

If they’re trying to make Biden out to be some closeted racist, they’ll need to work a lot harder than this.

Let’s be clear, so we don’t get bamboozled yet again. Democrats are always held to higher standards, both by the media and the GOP, mostly because they hold themselves to higher standards.

At the same time, Republicans are held to no standards whatsoever. They are assumed, even by the press, to be morally and intellectually bankrupt — that they will lie, cheat, and steal, even when they don’t have to. There’s no news there, so what’s a reporter to do except wait for a Democrat to get caught jaywalking?

Reporters need a both-siderist slant to keep their jobs. We can depend on them to seize on the slightest whiff of controversy, anything they can use to prove that Democrats are just as terrible as Republicans. After all, one side jaywalks, the other puts children in concentration camps. Equally bad, right?

The generals call this asymmetrical warfare, spitballs versus tanks. It’s been going on for 50 years. We have to stop falling for it.

Speaking of which, by the time you read this, Biden may or may not have named his running mate. But please notice, again, the press’s compulsive need to drum up a quarrel where there is none. They’re handicapping the frontrunners, stirring up the usual racism and misogyny, and chasing down every petty snipe and quibble they can find, in search of that bombshell “Democrats in Disarray!”story. Again.

Let’s not play this time, okay? The only thing important is that Biden pick a person that he’s confident can perform as president. Nothing else matters.

So let the media gin up any bombshell it wants. The truth is, Joe Biden could pick Kermit the Frog and he would not lose a single vote. We should all just shut up and let him figure it out. The electorate will not shift while we wait.

And yes, there will be more gaffes. He’s Joe, after all.

But the man is under a bit of pressure. We have chosen him to rescue the entire American Experiment. Maybe we should cut him some slack.

Berkley MI

Tuesday 07/11/20

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Branding the Party of Stupid

Let’s talk about the Republican brand. An unpleasant subject, I know, but well worth watching as it turns rancid. Marketing has always been a strength of the GOP. They don’t do policy at all, and they’ve stopped even paying lip-service to reality. But they’ve always had a singular knack for mass manipulation. From Lee Atwater to Karl Rove to Roger Ailes, the party has long been a showcase for brilliant but bent marketing talent, people who understood their target audience and knew what messages would resonate. Those messages have always been deeply fraudulent, and for good reason. They know they can’t tell their audience the real story. The one about who they are and what they stand for. Because the real story is tax cuts and deregulation, nothing else. That’s what they want their brand to be about, but it’s a lousy product. Nobody with a net worth of less than $10 million has any interest in it. So rather than promote it, they’ve had to put up smokescreens to divert attention

The Long Lost Center is Staring Us Right in the Face

Lately there has been much written — and more than a little hand-wringing — about the fate of the fabled American “Center,” that vast majority of sensible people who just wish we could all get along. In particular, there was an op-ed in the Times last week by Thomas B. Edsall — a seasoned, generally respected journalist — that goes to great lengths to lament the neglect of this supposed Center. Edsall places the blame for said neglect on “polarization,” on an electorate that’s been “pushed by political extremes.” He cites an impressive number of recent studies to show us how big but politically powerless this Center appears to be. One of these studies makes the point that: Bipartisan majorities consider the following to be “essential rights important to being an American today”: ‘“clean air and water” (93 percent); “a quality education” (92 percent); “affordable health care” (89 percent); and the “right to a job” (85 percent). These high levels of demand for

Both Sides Now

Back in the nineties, Holocaust denial enjoyed one of its periodic but thankfully brief revivals. It was an old idea given new life, thanks to some shrewd but cynical PR and a few credulous members of the media. Spread virally, or what passed for virally at the time, the “story” — that the Holocaust never happened, that six million Jews were never exterminated — actually percolated up to the mainstream media as a “controversy” for a while. TV news and talk shows, both national and local, worked hard to fan the flames, actually giving serious airtime to the charlatans perpetuating this sludge. But the producers of these shows, sensitive sorts all, couldn’t believe how hard it was to recruit actual Holocaust victims to sit across from the charlatans. They were offering good money, after all. Why would these old folks not want to go on camera? Why would they not want to relive those unimaginable horrors that scarred them for life, listening to some toxic putz who’s trying to conv