Joe Makes Barry Look Good

Why would Obama keep an embarrassing blowhard like Joe Biden on the ticket? Joseph Epstein has the answer in today’s Wall Street Journal:

With Democrats wondering whether President Obama should keep Joe Biden as his running mate, and some of them even suggesting Hillary Clinton as his replacement, I’m already beginning to miss the vice president. Mr. Biden, after all, supplies comic relief, a thing always in great need and inevitably in short supply in American politics. He is the only politician in recent years whose every utterance isn’t predictable. Joe Biden himself must often be astonished at what comes out of his mouth.

The hair-plugs, the shysterish suits, the wiseguy demeanor, the low-grade lawyerly confidence of utterance, it’s a grand show the vice president puts on. The first clue we had of Mr. Biden’s quality was the long, lost Anita Hill weekend, back in 1991 during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he displayed his talent for asking all the wrong, which is to say so many of the embarrassing, questions. It was the way he asked them—with that smirky certainty of his own unproved astuteness—that is signature Joe Biden…

Why would Barack Obama want Joe Biden for his vice president? The two men don’t seem particularly close. They share few common interests, and have very different temperaments. Mr. Biden is not likely to bring in votes Obama could not win himself, or be a crucial factor in any of the swing states.

What Mr. Biden does provide is contrast for the president. Alongside Mr. Biden, the president becomes what is known as “a contrast gainer.” Next to Mr. Biden, in other words, Mr. Obama looks earnest, serious, deep, a statesman. Not just any politician could provide that service, but the Honorable Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. does so magnificently.

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