The Face That Launched A Thousand Trial Balloons

As often as he brings down ridicule upon himself, one wonders at times why Obama and his handlers keep letting “Talking Joe” Biden speak in public. James Lileks writes in the New York Post that “Biden’s ‘gaffes’ are anything but — they’re simply what the administration is really thinking. Truer words have never been babbled.”

That seems right. There are only two rational explanations why they administration doesn’t muzzle Biden. The first is that his permanent comedy tour is a useful distraction from the administration’s more pressing difficulties, so his fairly loose leash is just to allow him to play court jester.

The other, more likely reason is that the Vice President is ideally suited to release the administration’s trial balloons. We’ve come to expect a rapid “clarification” or outright denial of his howlers, so no-one really takes anything he says seriously until someone who actually speaks for the administration confirms it. That (rarer) occurence only happens when he says something that doesn’t bring down the house.

In short, Lileks is right. We ought not fall into the trap of dismissing Biden’s many “gaffes.” When it comes right down to it, most are precisely what the White House really believes. Which isn’t funny at all.

FILED UNDER: Joe Biden, US Politics
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. markm says:

    “Biden’s ‘gaffes’ are anything but — they’re simply what the administration is really thinking. Truer words have never been babbled.”

    That seems right.

    Possibly…but not all Biden gaffes are created equal. Some are just “Joe being Joe” but others that require BO to issue a correction hamstring the administration rather that exploit their views.

  2. floyd says:

    You mean he’s like Tommy Smothers, only appearing to be the dumb one when paired up with a Dick?

  3. ggr says:

    It probably is largely irrelevant what the White House really thinks. What they actually do is always the issue. Think of Bush on abortion – despite the fears of many pro-choice groups and hopes of many pro-life groups, did his secret (or not so secret) opinions have much practical expression?

  4. Furhead says:

    I’m not sure if I agree. Biden was a well-known gaffe machine well before his vice presidential candidacy. It could, of course, be a mix – the administration is letting his reputation precede him in a ‘clever’ manner.

  5. Triumph says:

    We ought not fall into the trap of dismissing Biden’s many “gaffes.”

    What “gaffes” are you talking about?

  6. serfer62 says:

    The real reason? Joe constantly reminds us that impeachment is not a good idea…

  7. Now of course, if Cheney spoke (especially if he said “Duck!” while holding a gun), people definitely listened to him…

    Seriously, you have to wonder what Biden’s advisory clout is in the Administration. Cheney and Gore were certainly in the loop, and even Quayle was in the loop regarding political ramifications of decisions. If Biden’s sole role is to open his mouth at times, that’s worrisome.