No Grace Under Pressure

I don’t like being an armchair psychologist, but I think that it’s true that you get a real glimpse into someone’s character when they are under stress, confronted by adversity, find themselves challenged. And the current Democratic presidential ticket is facing that right now — in spades.

Jim Treacher has an interesting article up, where he takes a look at Barack Obama. Treacher’s conclusion — and I think it’s supported by the facts: Obama, when pressed, turns into a real asshole.

Yes, any of the individual incidents Treacher cites can be dismissed as an innocent error, a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation, a coincidence. The “scratching his face with his middle finger while talking about Hillary.” The pig and lipstick reference. The “brush off your shoulder” moment. The repeated references to Palin as “mayor of Wasilly.” The timing of the O’Reilly interview to coincide with the night of McCain’s acceptance speech. Playing “Addicted To Love” as Bill Clinton’s exit song. The “sweetie” moment with the reporter.

In many of these cases, it’s clear that the audience got the message Obama insists he wasn’t sending. Listen to the explosions of applause when he flips the bird, brushes his shoulder, drops the “lipstick on a pig” line — all of which were perfectly innocent, of course.

After a while, though, credibility stretches beyond the breaking point, and the “aberrations” become the pattern. This is the first time (apart from his run for the US House, when he was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary) that Obama has faced real electoral adversity, the very first time he’s had to compete with a strong Republican opponent, and he has no idea how to to deal with it. Simply being a good, loyal, faiithful Democrat ought to be have enough — it’s what has gotten him where he is today.

But enough of Obama. Instead, I want to focus some attention on the candidate who seems to be getting the least attention of late — Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Biden has never been very good at talking off the cuff. No, that’s not very fair — he’s very good at it, as long as you only listen to how he speaks and pay no attention to the content. Biden, like so many other politicians, is dearly in love with his own voice and lets his mouth just completely run away from him — then thinks that everyone’s staring at him slackjawed not because they’re dazzled by his eloquence, but they’re asking themselves “he didn’t really just say that, did he?”

This has been in evidence this past week or so. During a visit to Nashua, New Hampshire, Biden went off on a tear about how wonderful Hillary Clinton was. But he couldn’t stop himself from just saying she was wonderful, he had to keep going — and ended up saying that she was better qualified to be vice-president than he was, and would have been a better choice than he was. If that’s so, Joe, why are you on the ticket?

In Missouri, Biden was rallying with Democratic elected officials, singling them out for praise from the audience. When he got to State Senator Chuck Graham, he exhorted him to “stand up, Chuck, let the people see you.”

Senator Graham chose to not rise from his wheelchair, leaving Biden to try to recover.”Oh, God love you. What am I talking about? I’ll tell you what, you’re making everybody else stand up, old pal. I’ll tell you what, everybody else stand up for Chuck. Stand up for Chuck!” One would think that an “old pal” would remember something as salient as the fact that Chuck can’t stand up.

Biden’s mouth also showed him to be an utterly classless asshole. Also in Missouri, Biden took on the Republican platform over stem cell research:

“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there’s joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well, guess what, folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem cell research?”

Gee, who is currently the most prominent parent of a child with a developmental disability? If you didn’t immediately think of Biden’s counterpart, Sarah Palin, and her infant son Trig, then you’re about as clueless and naive as Barack Obama pretends to be.

Oh, and Senator Biden, Palin is THE governor of Alaska, not A lieutenant governor — as you described her after her speech at the RNC.

And his running mate? Biden was very impressed with Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

One Biden gaffe I’m willing to cut him some slack on is his confusing battalions and brigades. To be perfectly frank, I can’t keep the hierarchy of military units straight myself. I couldn’t tell you which is larger without consulting some reference books. (OK, here it is… a brigage is usually composed of three battalions.) But then again, I’m not running for Vice-President Of The United States, so the standards for me are a bit lower.

I don’t know how the two parties chose their animal symbols, and I don’t know the reasoning behind them, but now more than ever I think that the Democrats perfectly emblemized their ticket this time around: an ass at the top of the ticket, a braying jackass on the bottom.

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