On Monday, Politico reported that Joe Biden had made a deeply unfortunate comment. In response to the remarks of Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) about the Tea Party and fiscal conservatives that “We have negotiated with terrorists,” Biden reportedly agreed that “They have acted like terrorists.”
Reince Priebus (if I’m spelling that right; I think it’s I before E except in REINCE), chairman of the Republican National Committee, has already demanded an apology.
The public agreed that the budget talks were “ridiculous,” “disgusting,” and “stupid,” and even “outrageous” “lousy” and “sucks” if you read the chart closely. Our elected officials were acting, generally, like 13-year-olds — shouting, finger-pointing, refusing to work with the others in the group, and postponing an important assignment until the night before it was due — in fact, pretty much everything short of name-calling.
So much for “short of name-calling.”
I am sure people are going to leap to Biden’s defense; he’s never been exactly gaffe-proof, in the sense that gasoline has never been exactly fireproof. When you spend more than 10 minutes around him you get that same disconcerting feeling that overcomes you when you bring your grandfather to a rap concert, the idea that if he stays here any longer he’s going to say something kind of oblivious that will ruin the whole event.
“But terrorists love cost-savings!” they will point out. “And they’re fond of fertilizer, to which many have likened the Balanced Budget Amendment!
“And surely this isn’t just Joe! If the debate on the debt ceiling hasn’t been acrimonious, it has been very far from crimonious!”
To them I say, “That’s not a word! And you’re missing the point.”
Yes, the sandbox on Twitter and in the halls of Congress has been absolutely choked with yelling and recrimination. People have called those in favor of raising the debt ceiling traitors. They have called those opposed to it traitors. They have even gotten confused and called entirely uninvolved bystanders traitors, simply because they were standing near the Capitol in suits.
But Biden, chronic foot-in-mouth or not, is the vice president. The vice presidency may not be worth a bucket of warm something-or-other, as John Nance Garner once apocryphally observed, but at least you get a lot of bonus stature and a nice ride. And with those perks comes the requirement to act, if not presidentially, at least like a grown-up.
Biden should apologize. Not because this is the sort of thing No One Is Allowed to Say — there’s nothing in the Constitution about rudeness and childishness — but because he’s the vice president of the whole nation, including the Tea Party. And the vice president doesn’t say a thing like that.