Vice President Biden’s latest gaffe shouldn’t sidetrack Republicans. Nothing Biden says will drive any votes or make a difference in this election. The GOP ticket will look small if they spend any time responding to the vice president. It didn’t have to come to this for the able Biden, who remains popular in Washington. Obama marginalized the formerly powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a long time ago, but that is for another post.

Yesterday’s “chains” comments  were typical. I couldn’t tell whether Biden was trying to act black or trying to act Southern. Surely blacks didn’t need to hear what Biden said in order to support Obama. The Obama campaign hopes that white Virginians don’t think that Biden was talking about them. Either way, it wasn’t funny or effective. When I saw the video clip, I winced for Joe Biden, not about what he said.

Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate was Biden’s final push into the abyss of the irrelevant. Biden was the biggest loser when Ryan was selected. Who is the least relevant member of either ticket? Who will have the smallest crowds at campaign events, get the least TV coverage but have the longest toe-curling highlight reel of gaffes and bloopers? You get my point. So Biden has completed his descent into a clownish cliché. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was a little harsh on the vice president when he said  that Biden wouldn’t be an effective president, but his sentiments are widely shared.

It remains to be seen if Ryan will be a game changer or even a net plus, but there is no doubt that voters will take him seriously in 2012; he will matter, and he has a future.

Note to readers:

Between now and the Republican National Convention I’ll be traveling to various points between California and Greece. The summer doldrums are here, and my posts could begin to reflect that, although I’m not 100 percent sure what a doldrum is. 

Anyway, I have spent the past three days in Santa Monica, Calif., at the beach with my kids. The bike path between Santa Monica and Venice Beach offers some of the best people-watching on the planet. I was hoping that my observations and conversations with assorted strangers would offer some fresh political insights, but so far none has revealed itself. It is a pretty eclectic group on the beach and on the piers in Santa Monica and Venice Beach, and I’m not sure that this crowd would make a relevant focus group for any particular aspect of the 2012 race. 

For example, my kids and I have worn University of Alabama football jerseys and T-shirts since we have been here, and not one person has nodded and uttered a friendly “Roll Tide.” I think there must be more foreigners here than I thought. More later . . . .