Why Obama Couldn’t Be Like Biden

After Thursday night’s Vice Presidential debate, it appears that progressives have gotten their needed mood enhancer and we have successfully talked Andrew Sullivan off the ledge.

AP File Photo | Charles Dharapak
AP FIle Photo | Charles Dharapak

Yet, the real gem of tonight’s debates are in the comments and commentary of Republicans and their base.

Let’s face it – the purpose of the Veep debate is to 1) energize the base (done for Biden!) and 2) say to Americans “This person is a stroke away from the Presidency are you okay with that?”  This year’s debate had a bit more weight added to it simply because of President Obama’s less than energizing initial debate.  In the end, progressives are thrilled and are shouting “THIS IS WHAT OBAMA SHOULD HAVE DONE!”  Perhaps…but he couldn’t.

A day (or two?) before the Obama/Romney debate, there was some activity amongst the conservative bloggers about a 2007 speech then candidate Obama gave at Hampton University during a minister’s conference. He was speaking to a predominately black audience on the subject of race and the policies of the then Bush Administration. The spark was started by Sean Hannity (does the sun ever shine in Hannity’s America?) and conservative bloggers quickly spread the faux outrage over the “never before seen” video of this now five year old speech.  They were using terms like “controversial, angry, race baiting…and Jeremiah Wright” to discuss the video. In short, Obama is a racist and hates white people.

The purpose of all this was to set the stage for the appearance of a strong and forceful President Obama effectively debating Mitt Romney.  In the end, President Obama played it low-key against an aggressive and steamrolling Mitt Romney effectively lying his ass off to no push back.  Conservatives claimed that Mitt Romney looked Presidential, President Obama looked unintelligent. There was no more talk about the racist Obama.

What would have happened if Obama had been more aggressive in the debate?  The answer lies with Joe Biden.

Pre-debate rumors were stating that there was a demand from the Romney/Ryan camp that Biden not refer to Ryan as “Congressman” and only as “Mr. Ryan”.  If true, there could be several reasons for this.  Perhaps they didn’t want to remind the audience that Ryan has been in Congress for 13 years and has only passed two bills – one about a post office and one about excise taxes on arrows (yes, as in archery).  Or, what I think is probably more plausible, they wanted to present Ryan as an equal to the elder statesman – and Vice President – Biden. In the end, this rumor either wasn’t true, or Biden didn’t give a shit because he referred to his “friend” the congressman, quite a few times.

What is true, however, is the reaction from conservatives.  Joe Biden was aggressive and effectively steamrolled Paul Ryan’s lies with factual information, never letting him off the hook when Ryan was blatantly wrong.  Yet, in the conservatives’ mind, Joe Biden was not “Vice Presidential” – he was rude and disrespectful.  I’m guessing because it’s rude and disrespectful to not let their candidate lie (the laughing was a tad over the top though, Joe).

If President Obama had been more Bidenesque in his debate, conservatives would not have been saying he was “presidential”.  They would have said he was rude and disrespectful.  Well, if it was two Irish Catholics having a debate he would be, perhaps.  In the case of President Obama – a black man (or, as the Republican base believes, a Muslim Kenyan Socialist) against Mitt Romney – a white man (or, as the Democratic base believes, a filthy rich Mormon Capitalist with no heart) – it would not only be rude and disrespectful…but arrogant, condescending and so not worthy of the office of the presidency..  In short, Obama is a racist and hates white people – and doesn’t know his place.

Progressives constantly express their frustration that Obama isn’t more aggressive…and I completely understand.  Nuance doesn’t work against a crowd of bullies that believe a person born in Hawaii is not an American and that the world is only 6000 years old.  But progressives…especially the non-black supporters…have to remember that our President, in the eyes of his opponents, is a black man first and a President second (okay, maybe a Democrat second and a President third).  In America today (and every day since it’s inception), if a black man forgets his place – logic and reason go out the window.  He can’t be like every other candidate or incumbent – because he’s not.

In the end, I believe President Obama is going to listen to his critics, turn up the fire in his belly, and channel his inner Biden in the remaining debates. In the meantime, Sean Hannity will be reviewing damning video of Obama over the weekend sounding really angry.


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