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.
It was less than a month before this mistake that Biden said he would tell his family members to avoid confined spaces and not to travel through the airlines due to the swine flu infections that were causing a near hysteria among the media and American public. If the average American wasn’t panicked then, they probably were after seeing that quote.
It’s almost as if the comedians are so shocked by each gaffe that they forget about the previous one, and instead of making jokes about the pattern, they make some light quips about the most recent trip-up and repetitive jokes about how cool, fly, glorious — or any other positive adjective — Obama is. Occasionally they’ll make a joke about the overly high expectations people have of him, but even that is a joke highlighting his positive qualities.
From saying that then-Senator Obama was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” to making the type of ethnic-based jokes that today’s anti-P.C., South Park generation loves, such as when he said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking,” Biden is a ready-made redux of Bush-era comedy. Yet it seems no one is willing to make the comparison, as if Bush owns the arrogant, wanna-be action hero persona.
While Bush was derided for his acts of bravado like getting in a flight suit with a premature “Mission Accomplished” banner above him, Biden not so humbly mentions how he was “shot at” in Iraq. “Shot at” quickly turned into “I was near where a shot landed,” as in he was in the Green Zone and an enemy projectile landed outside the building. With that show of manliness failing, he later boasted about how his helicopter was “forced down” over the terrorist “superhighway” of the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, conveniently leaving out the unflattering fact that the helicopter went down because of snow.
He’s told a wheelchair-bound state senator to stand up at a rally. He’s received a disapproving father-like look from President Obama for saying, “My memory isn’t as good as Justice Roberts.” He said during his introduction as Obama’s vice-presidential pick that the next president would be “Barack America.” He said that “‘jobs’ is a three-letter word.” He’s referred to FDR’s appearance on TV to address the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression, an event that occurred in 1929 when FDR was not president and TVs weren’t in private homes.
“If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’re going to get it wrong.”
With all this, the elite comedian class depicts Bush, and not Biden, as a moron? As Biden would say, “Gimme a f—ing break!”