Joe Biden wants you to know that his intentions are good. His heart is pure. You can see that, right? He’s one of the good guys. You can tell because his teeth are so straight and white and dazzling. His hairline seems to be advancing rather than receding. That sort of magic doesn’t happen to bad dudes.
This week, Joe got in trouble when he reminisced about the good ole days of working with former U.S. Senator from Mississippi James O. Eastland. Back in the day, according to Joe, Senators knew how to work together and be civil even when they disagreed. So Joe and Big Jim, as Eastland was known, buddied up and worked together on a number of bills. Big Jim took Little Joe under his tutelage, called him “son” apparently. Do you get the warm fuzzies imagining it? Sure, Eastland was best known for his calls to “abolish the negro race” and for calling black men “boy,” but the point is that he said those things with a civil tone. I guess?
Look, it’s obvious that members of Congress who disagree with one another about policy or politics need to learn to work together, to find common ground, and to get something (anything) done. I understand what Joe was trying to say, but he said it so badly. Joe keeps bragging that he has the most experience of any candidate, but I keep wondering how someone with so much experience keeps making the same damn mistakes over and over again. Isn’t experience supposed to be the best teacher? Joe never seems to learn from his mistakes. That’s troubling.
It was not so long ago when Joe praised then-candidate Barack Obama by saying, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Which is blatantly insulting and offensive and awful. And, look, Obama obviously got over it. He made Joe his Vice President and the two became close friends. Huzzah for forgiveness and all that. Still, the man who made that comment in 2007 should know better than to wax nostalgic about holding hands with segregationists back in the 1970s. Why doesn’t he know better? Why can’t he learn?
And this is not an isolated incident. When Joe was called out for being too touchy-feely with women on the campaign trail, he vowed to stop. Then he went and made a bunch of jokes about it. Why would he do that? How are those jokes advancing his candidacy or helping the country he wants to lead? These are the questions he needs to ask himself before he speaks.
Then there’s Joe’s habit of telling parents to “lock up your daughter” or instructing teen boys to “look out for your sister.” I know, I know, it’s a joke and it’s meant to be a compliment. It’s Joe’s way of saying that the adolescent girl in the room is really pretty and that boys won’t be able to control themselves in her presence. Also that she probably isn’t strong enough or smart enough to take care of herself, so parents and siblings will have to take charge. Basically he’s saying that girls are pretty and powerless and also maybe enticing men to do bad things just by virtue of existing in the world. Wait, that doesn’t make it better, does it?
The thing is, if your strength is the depth of your experience, you should make fewer mistakes than the new kids on the block. Joe has always been prone to gaffes. The only thing he’s proving on the campaign trail right now is that he’s a man who cannot or will not evolve.
We already have someone in office who says whatever the hell he wants to say and then sends out his surrogates to insist that what he said is not really what he meant. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of trying to decode the speeches of politicians. I’m sick of trying to figure out what’s in someone’s heart. I am not a mind-reader nor a cardiologist. If a politician has something to say, he or she should say it straight. Don’t leave me guessing. And back up those words with some solid action.
Joe may mean well, but he’s not doing well. He is from a different time and he seems to be stuck there. We don’t need a leader from the past; we need a leader for the future. Joe is not our guy. He may be pure of heart, but he’s shown an unwillingness to change and learn and grow.
I say this with respect for the good he’s done for our country and for his lifetime of public service. I say this with civility and with kindness: Sit down, Joe. Get off the campaign trail. And please, I beg you, stop talking.