Former President George W. Bush will probably be remembered as the unlikable dunce, a bumbling buffoon whose approval ratings were as low as his arrogance was high. A cartoon-like caricature, crafted by opponents and comedians, depicting him as the unsophisticated, privileged son of a defeated president will forever be a part of Dubya’s legacy.
Granted, Bush was sometimes embarrassing, and sometimes I was more nervous for him than he seemed to be. His forthcoming book will probably need a ghostwriter to help him articulate his thoughts, and when it’s released I’ll probably loathe the promotional interviews, knowing I’ll tense up with sympathy like I do for scared American Idol contestants after they’ve had a train wreck of a performance and know they are going to be victimized by Simon Cowell’s verbal sledgehammer.
Considering the money made by shows like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and Saturday Night Live off of this punch line-providing caricature, one would think they’d leap at the opportunity to draw a similar one of Vice President Joe Biden, who is a gaffe factory just a few notches below Dan Quayle. But, perhaps because Biden doesn’t fit the stereotype of a dumb politician (i.e., he’s not an intellectually backward social conservative Republican), he remains unscathed from his missteps.
A quick look at the most recent gaffe indicates comedians will have growing amounts of material delivered to the desk. Biden reportedly described his predecessor’s legendary “bunker” at the Naval Observatory where he stayed safe from potential attacks. Eleanor Clift of Newsweek summarizes Biden’s description of the site as being “behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communication equipment.”
Supporting this account are the complaints of nearby residents about noise from construction at the site in December 2002. The Observatory responded by saying the purpose of the construction was “classified,” “sensitive in nature,” and placed “on a highly accelerated schedule.”
Responding to criticisms that he released classified information, Biden’s spokesperson said that he wasn’t describing Cheney’s super-secret hiding spot, but “an upstairs workspace” that had been converted to a guest room. Because, as we all know, workspaces and guest rooms are locked like a safe. Let’s give Biden the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Naval Observatory invites radioactive guests to stay over. The fact remains that he has done more than enough to earn a degrading caricature from comedians by now.