Ted Bobrow

Joe Biden cuts to the chase

By - Mar 24th, 2010 08:35 am
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President Barack Obama is known for his extraordinary speeches and the words he delivered at yesterday’s health care reform bill-signing ceremony were certainly eloquent.

But sometimes the impact of a moment is best-delivered by a guy with language more typical of, well, an average Joe.

In his prepared remarks, Vice President Joe Biden called the day “historic” and, quoting Virgil, reminded us that the “best wealth is health.”

But whether you are supportive of the legislation or not, it’s hard to disagree with the extemporaneous words Biden whispered into the president’s ear that were caught by a live microphone and broadcast to the world.

Yes, Mr. Vice President, this is indeed a “big, f*cking deal!”

It was Obama who movingly dedicated the day to people, including his mother, who suffered because of obstacles to adequate health insurance. It was Obama who referred to the generations of leaders from Teddy Roosevelt to Teddy Kennedy who struggled to make this day a reality. And it was Obama who suggested that this bill represents the best of what our nation is about.

“We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities,” Obama said. “We are a nation that does what is hard. What is necessary. What is right. Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny. That is what we do. That is who we are. That is what makes us the United States of America.”

There are certain historic moments that unify the country and even the world, when it seems that everyone shares a similar reaction to a life-changing event. Think of 9/11, for example, or the day a man walked on the moon.

This, however, was not one of those. We live in a politically polarized nation and it’s fair to say that millions of people had very different reactions to yesterday’s signing of health care reform legislation by President Obama.

Millions of people are convinced that this expansion of government is insidious and vile. They assert that the cost of the legislation will lead to greater federal debt with ruinous consequences. They pledge to work on behalf of Congressional candidates who support repeal of this bill.

So the fight will continue. President Obama and supporters of health care reform must continue to take their case to the people and articulate their assertion that this bill will have real and significant consequences in the lives of average Americans. And elections will be held to determine whether or not these changes will be sustained or overturned.

But for at least one day advocates for health care reform could savor their victory.

Biden’s expletive is already being heralded as a gaffe for the ages. Characteristically, later in the day he also mistakenly referred to Virgil as a Greek poet when he was actually a Roman.

So be it.

I, for one, feel that no apology is necessary.

Yes, Joe, this is a big, f*cking deal!

Categories: Commentary, Gray Matter

8 thoughts on “Joe Biden cuts to the chase”

  1. Fred Bell says:

    I like the “the best wealth is health” comment best. The Republicans should do what George Bush would have done, now take credit for the health reform. Great article!!!!

  2. Ted Bobrow says:

    Sigh. Roger, do you actually believe that Biden’s good-natured if overly-exuberant expletive is somehow equivalent to, or even worse than, Cheney’s insult directed at Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate, meant to insult and bully the Vermont Senator? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3699-2004Jun24.html
    Yet another sign of how our reactions to events are clouded by our partisan differences. And I stipulate that both sides are guilty of this.
    Be sure, Roger, to remember your abhorrence of salty speech next time you hit your thumb with a hammer.

  3. 2fs says:

    Roger: If Biden’s *off-mic* use of “fuck” is a new low, as a mere intensifier, then what do you say about Dick Cheney’s use of the same word, *on the Senate floor* and *directed at another Senator*? Telling Sen. Patrick Leahy to “go fuck yourself” is surely rather more “inappropriate and beyond tasteless” than an off-mic use of a term that probably 99% of Americans use now and again?

    Politicians are adults. They talk the same way most adults do – and such language, whether in joy or anger, is part of the package. Decorum has to do with *public* use of language. Biden’s language is only accidentally public; Cheney’s was public nearly by definition.

    Game, set, and match to Cheney in the Abusive Language Sweepstakes.

  4. Bill Schanen says:

    Biden’s words were: “This is fucking big!”

  5. You really missed the mark on this one, Ted. Joe Biden isn’t an average Joe. He’s the vice president of the U.S. and his aside, microphone on or off, was inappropriate and beyond tasteless. I never thought a vice president could make Spiro Agnew and Dick Cheney look like statesmen, but Biden seems to be setting a new (low) standard.

    1. Erin Petersen says:

      I would have to disagree with you, Roger. Don’t get me wrong- this is definitely inappropriate language for a public authority figure to use on camera- that part is just a no-brainer. However, I’d argue that, had someone not taken the time and really CRANKED up the volume, none of us would have been privy to Biden’s f-bomb.

      There’s something about Joe Biden’s shoot-from-the-hip sort of character that is kind of endearing (and yes, embarrassing at times), and in this instance, I think his excitement was something we can all relate to.

      All that aside, you’re not really comparing Joe Biden’s gaffe to Dick Cheney’s legacy of evil, are you? Really?

    2. DJ Hostettler says:

      2fs said it above as well, but how does this make Cheney look like a “Statesman” when *he* told a friggin’ senator to “go fuck [himself]?” I hope you just happened to space on that one, Roger, because…wow.

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