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Remembering Biden's gaffe

Two years ago today, on the verge of becoming vice president, Joe Biden stuck his foot in his mouth.

This is news, you might ask? It was, back then, because Biden was rather publicly slapped down by the top of the ticket for predicting that "it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama…. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

The president-elect was not exactly amused. "Joe sometimes engages in some rhetorical flourishes," he said.

Yes, and that manufactured crisis did not, thankfully, arise. But looking back at the full transcript of Biden's words -- well, he called it right on the big, ugly picture of the trouble that the new administration was about to inherit and the political trouble that would ensue.

"I promise you, you are all gonna be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh, my God, why are they there in the polls, why is the polling so down, why is this thing so tough?" Biden said at a fund-raiser in Seattle just before the election. "We're gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now, I'm asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you're going to have to reinforce us."

Predicting a deficit "that may be as high as $750 billion" -- how quaint that sounds -- Biden told the crowd, "Only thing I'm asking you is, you know, gird your loins. We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride."

That was not exactly the official line. The slogan was not "Change That's Gonna Be Really, Really, Really Hard." (All but the "change" part is an actual quote from the Biden event.) But what if it had been?

Would the president be better off today if his campaign-and-beyond message had been a bit more realistic -- more Bidenesque? If the base were a little less transported and a little more prepared for the hard reality of governing and the inevitable evaporation of Obama's 75 percent approval rating?

Because some of those rhetorical flourishes turned out to be pretty spot on.

By Ruth Marcus  | October 21, 2010; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Next: Juan Williams's Shirley Sherrod moment

Comments

Actually it would have been "pretty spot on" in Biden's "Gird Your Loins" speech if he said; We're gonna have to make some incredibly... BAD.... decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now....be prepared to stick with us.

Posted by: RobCon | October 21, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

The fact is that a politician running for office today cannot speak the truth. If they do, they don't get elected or reelected. A sad state of affairs in America.

Posted by: DrFish | October 21, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"If the base were a little less transported and a little more prepared for the hard reality ..."

The problem is not with the base but with the President himself being unprepared to acknowledge the depth and range of the nation's problems. Much of his base is deserting him precisely because they expected much harder fighting from him than they got.

Posted by: Adam_Smith | October 21, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The points that Biden was making seem more to be that the incoming POTUS/V-POTUS were more and better prepared, for what has been done to "fix" the U.S./world economy, than have been the federal legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court. The general-electorate, once again, was relegated to "last-place" on the "what-must-be-done" charts.

Posted by: marc85 | October 21, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? I certainly am not. The dems took over congress 4 years ago and would not do anything to Frannie and Freddie or regulate Wall St. The dems were too indebted to them for money. The president can not do much without congress unless he goes behind their backs like Obama has.

If the republicans do nothing for 2 years except keep Obama from spending money, it will be a blessing. Then we can get a president in 2012 who has the experience to govern this great nation. That is if China does not take over before then.

Posted by: annnort | October 21, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"the republicans do nothing for 2 years except keep Obama from spending money, it will be a blessing. Then we can get a president in 2012 who has the experience to govern this great nation."

Yes - this is my exact fear for the next two years. With the Republicans in control of half of the congress, they can halt anything the President tries to do to save this economy and our country. What possible motive do Republicans have for paassing legislation that would help the economy? Patriotism? Honor? Please, spare me.
Nothing will get done in the next two years as the economy limps along - then Obama is blamed for it in 2012 and is booted out.

Posted by: NMModerate1 | October 21, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Which Biden gaffe? There are so many!

My favorite was the one about "the clean, articulate, black man!"

Posted by: pgr88 | October 21, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

It is instructive to compare the first two years of the Obama Administration with the first two years of the FDR Administration. Roosevelt didn't spend all his time whining about the mess that he inherited from Hoover. He got to work and started fixing problems. Of course, Roosevelt had leadership experience when he was elected that far exceeded being a community organizer and part time Senator while he was running for President.

Let's admit it: Obama is in way over his head.

Posted by: hisroc | October 21, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama is not the problem. The isn't even the feckless Democratic Senators. The problem is a campaign finance system driven by corporationis and the super-rich. One thousand-more or less- uber-richies un this world. Wake up, people. They don't give a damn about you.

Posted by: BBear1 | October 21, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama is not the problem. The isn't even the feckless Democratic Senators. The problem is a campaign finance system driven by corporation and the super-rich. One thousand-more or less- uber-richies run this world. Wake up, people. They don't give a damn about you.

Posted by: BBear1 | October 21, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Ruth, Thank you for this keen observation. I thought the same thing then and had subsequently forgotten all about it. This write-up reminded me of that.

Posted by: trevortenbrink | October 21, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm really bothered by the President's attitude that he and his staff know more than anyone else and that if the people disagree with his policies, it's only because they don't understand. That may be true with a few people, but there are many of us who fully understand where he and the Democrats are taking us, and we don't like the ride.

Posted by: MrBethesda | October 22, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

"I'm really bothered by the President's attitude that he and his staff know more than anyone else and that if the people disagree with his policies, it's only because they don't understand."

Nine years ago, this statement was certainly valid. Today? Not so much. Difference is, today we don't have a White House warning us to watch what we say lest we get tagged as terriss.

Posted by: mattintx | October 22, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Despite vicious Republican opposition we have had one of the most productive congresses in years; that is what we have been reading in the papers and news magazines. It just wasn't enough; people had unrealistic expectations and, in many cases, real needs. But if the Tea Party takes over you can forget it. Half a loaf may be a lot better than what you will be facing as the Republicans pay back those big donors that have been buying them.

Posted by: withersb | October 22, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

The headline to this essay was confusing: Remembering Biden's gaffe. I started remembering several and wondered which one Miz Marcus was alluding to. There are so many. Sometimes it is hard to comprehend the mind of a man who would choose Biden as a vice-president. Joe the Plumber might have done this Administration some good. Still, Obama gave the care and cleaning of the middle class to Biden, and look what a mess he made out of it. I guess, what he is, is a handy scapegoat when the President runs out of his current crop of scapegoats.

Posted by: sailhardy | October 22, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Ms Marcus; all,

"Poor Joe" Biden got his nickname when he was the senior Senator from DE, i.e., the DUMBEST member of the Senate. = it was/IS said of him that "POOR JOE is so stupid that you can pee on his feet & convince him that it's raining.".

BHO is evidently NOT much smarter than "Poor Joe", as he "stuck us with" that LOUD-mouthed DOLT as VPOTUS for their FOUR YEARS (and OUT).

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | October 22, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

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