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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

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