The traditional role of a candidate for vice president is to attack to other side’s presidential candidate. Joe Biden did this effectively tonight. In the process, though, he gave one of the most intellectually dishonest speeches in recent memory. Here are the highlights and the low lights:
10:24 They are playing the intro tape. Biden says the folks with whom he grew up didn’t like being called working class; they thought of themselves as middle class. Ah, America in the days when people didn’t like being considered victims. Obama and Biden better hope that America has vanished.
10:25 Joe Biden almost always takes phone calls from his kids. What a man.
10:26 Barack Obama says that Biden’s foreign policy credentials are unmatched. Then why was he wrong about Iraq in 1991; wrong again, at least in his own estimation, in 2003; wrong about the surge; wrong about the intentions of the “moderate” Iranian leaders? Obama, it seems, is too easily impressed.
10:30 Biden’s son Beau is introducing his dad. We hear about the tragic car accident that killed his mother, Biden’s first wife. Michelle Obama is in tears, as well she might be.
10:31 Beau Biden has just told a whopper. He says that his dad has never been a part of Washington. His evidence is that Biden commiutes to Wilmington. But Joe Biden could ride the train back and forth to Wilmington five times a day. There would still be no bigger creature of Washington than the senior Senator from Delaware.
10:32 Now Beau tells us how his father stuttered as a boy (actually I think we heard this in the tape too). Biden may look like the presidents on the money, but don’t let that fool you — he was once the member of a victim class.
10:34 Joe Biden has started speaking. He praises our troops, the “bravest warriors in the world.” There is virtually no applause from the assembled Democrats.
10:35 Biden tries some humor. The eight most dreaded words in the English are “the Vice President’s office is on the line.” Not that Biden is a Washington insider.
10:36 Biden recounts a litany of things his mother used to tell him. All of them upbeat. He also reminds us that he stuttered as a boy.
10:37 For about the fourth time, we hear Biden or someone on his behalf talk about getting knocked down. I’m beginning to understand — Biden has a complex.
10:39 Biden is imagining the conversations that take place in the homes he passes on the train. “Should mom move in with us?” “How are we going to heat the home this winter?” etc. Why does Biden assume the conversations aren’t of the upbeat kind he had with his mother? Are we a poorer country now than when Biden was a kid 55 years ago in Scranton?
10:41 These conversations Biden has just described “aren’t isolated.” No, they are imaginary.
10:43 Biden is praising Obama now. He notes that when Obama was young, he could have “written his own ticket.” Instead, he wrote his own biography.
10:45 Somehow, Biden just took Obama from the South Side of Chicago to saving the state of Illinois. I guess a “present” vote in the state legislature goes a long way.
10:46 John McCain is Biden’s friend. But McCain thinks we’ve made great progress during the Bush years, according to Talkin’ Joe. That’s odd; last week I saw about 20 commercials in which the McCain campaign says we’re worse off than we were four years ago. More poetic license from the plagiarist.
10:47 Biden has a good riff going now. He’s made the best case yet that McCain=Bush. He’s got the crowd with him on the lines “that’s not change; that more of the same.” Of course, Biden is taking plenty of liberties. Even Bill Clinton admitted that McCain has a proven record of independence. When you’re less intellectually honest than Bill Clinton, you’ve accomplished something.
10:50 Now Biden is presenting the Democratic laundry list and trying to get a “that’s the change we need” riff going. It’s less effective, and woefully short on specifics.
10:52 Now Biden asserts that we’re less secure than ever before in our history. The dishonesty here is shocking.
10:53 Barack Obama, Biden assures us, “will hold Russia accountable.” I’m beginning to feel more secure already.
10:54 Biden begins an effective, but utterly dishonest riff on foreign policy. The idea is that Obama has consistently been right and McCain consistently wrong. It was Obama, for example, who figured out that we must talk to Iran to “make it clear that it must change.” And Obama said that we should have a timetable for exiting Iraq. Now, says Biden, we’re on the verge of one.
Biden never mentions the surge, but that’s the reason why we may be able to leave (though not as early as Obama has called for) in other than abject defeat. And, of course, Obama and Biden both opposed the surge and insisted it wouldn’t work. In fact, Biden continued to insist it wouldn’t work, and that the country had to be partitioned, even after the surge had made sigificant progress. Obama took a different approach — he claimed he knew all along the surge would work. It’s easy to be right when you get a do-over. Too bad Biden couldn’t accomplish even that.
10:58 Biden is really wound up now. He’s outraged just thinking about the imaginary world he’s described.
11:00 Biden concludes his speech. At least he didn’t call for the partition of Iraq.
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