The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Biden Anchors Middle Class Lovefest

By Alec MacGillis
PHILADELPHIA -- If anyone had any doubt what purpose Joe Biden's new "Middle Class Task Force" was supposed to serve, the group's debut meeting today at the University of Pennsylvania offered at least one possibility -- as a mutual admiration society for the benefit of boosting the morale of the stressed members of Obama's new administration.

The members of the task force sat on a stage in a full auditorium for more than three hours and spent a not-insignificant portion of that time accepting praise from each other and other assembled top officials and making chummy and light-hearted in-jokes. The rest of the time was spent on the topic of the day, green jobs, as various experts expounded at length and then volleyed exceedingly soft-edged questions from the administration officials on the task force. The panel took not a single question from the auditorium, which went from full to nearly half-empty over the course of the three hours.

The bonhomie was led by Biden himself, who started things off with an inevitable Scranton reference and offered himself as the exemplar of the middle class that the task force was seeking to address, joking about how much tuition money he'd spent on his kids. "So I'm really looking forward to this Recovery act," he said of the stimulus package. "I wish to heck the three or four last presidents were doing what we're doing now. My net worth would be much better."

Biden got the mutual praise going by showering some on Sen. Arlen Specter, one of three Republicans who voted for the stimulus package. "Senator, for 36 years I can count on one hand when I've watched people cast votes from another side of aisle than the one they happen to sit on, that no one doubts costs them, but cast a vote that they truly believe was in the best interests of the country. It might not help you, my saying this, but this legislation would not have happened without you."

Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) followed this up by praising Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for being "newly minted" and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood because he "did a wonderful job banging the gavel during the impeachment process." He returned Biden's jokes about his affection for Pennsylvania: "We adopted him -- he has been our senator for three decades...The line that gave me most confidence [in Obama's address to Congress this week] was when the president said, 'Don't mess with Joe.'"

Rap. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) singled out for praise Obama's domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes, and then praised Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for "doing a great job." Green-jobs proselytizer Van Jones followed up by praising Nutter as a "champion and a hero who is emerging as one of our strongest green mayors."

Even the policy discussions about green jobs had an air of ceremony and self-regard -- one had the sense that the discussion was being held mainly for public consumption, given that the officials present had plenty of off-stage opportunities to ask one another the questions they were volleying back and forth before the cameras. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell discussed ways to better coordinate their grant-making for renewable energy, and one couldn't help but wonder -- was this really a bureaucratic breakthrough, or would such coordination have occurred anyway?

Some Cabinet secretaries present spoke almost not at all, making one wonder whether it had been worth them to make the trip to Philly. Education Secretary Arne Duncan did his best to horn in on some discussions of green-jobs training. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack weighed in with this rather opaque observation: "I appreciate the comments of the panel especially as they relate to community gardens and the oportunites they present." Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood did not speak at any length until the session was nearly complete.

But Biden was there to keep everyone on track. He repeatedly let the audience know that the public could send suggestions to the Web site -- which was not really necessary, given that the group was sitting in front of giant banners covered with the address.

The next meeting is on March 19. Put it on your calendars.

Posted at 9:06 PM ET on Feb 27, 2009
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Larry G62:

And why would you assume the author is a Democrat? Because you have access to his "dossier"?

And you think he's "brain dead" because you know what microwave radiation can do to human tissue?

No? Bone up here:

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 2, 2009 3:41 PM

The ONGOING Bush/Cheney- initiated American social genocide via silent, covert microwave radiation weapons assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens; terroristic community gang stalking; and "programs of personal financial destruction."

C'mon folks. It's bad enough when you promote idiots like Biden and slugs like Obama, but please spare us the insult of seeing BS like this from some brain dead democrat cretins.

Posted by: LarryG62 | February 28, 2009 6:50 PM

getsix1-THAT, is the Job Training O'Bomba is planning for all his supporters!

Rather than Pan-Handling at intersections, he is going to teach them about recycling, and all the opportunities to earn un-declared income there-from!

THEN, the Formerly Middle Class can get to work at the Intersections! :-(

While all our jobs, are done under the Tax Table by O'Bomba's beloved Invaders!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 28, 2009 5:42 PM

everone will see the green jobs obama is talking about as you drive you will see them walking up and down the roads picking up trash for min wage and sorting cans and bottles

Posted by: getsix1 | February 28, 2009 5:28 PM

They are lucky I was not there!

I'd have tried to organize the one's who left, to grab the Clowns, and hold them hostage until O'Bomba-Nation either left the Office, or took $500 Billion and made it available for 50 Million $10,000 Loans for Middle(Or, those who formerly were) Class People!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 28, 2009 4:51 PM

Meanwhile, the Bush-Cheney legacy "programs of personal destruction" continue to erode the rule of law and decimate the economy...



The ONGOING Bush/Cheney- initiated American social genocide via silent, covert microwave radiation weapons assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens; terroristic community gang stalking; and "programs of personal financial destruction."



OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 27, 2009 10:03 PM

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