Ed Driscoll

'Tell Me Again of This Administration's Awesome Message Discipline'

As Moe Lane quips “Joe Biden opens his mouth” — and this is what emerges:

“I don’t believe, the president doesn’t believe that the Tea Party is — is a racist organization.  I don’t believe that,” Biden said.  “Very conservative.  Very different views on government and a whole lot of things.  But it is not a racist organization.”

(Via Outside the Beltway; H/t: Instapundit)  If this seems surprising, it shouldn’t be.  The NAACP has a goal; minimizing the Democratic Party’s losses in 2012 (via the use of a smear campaign).  Vice President Biden also has a goal; re-electing the President (and, incidentally, himself) in 2012.  The two goals are incompatible.  A Democratic majority in Congress means that the President will either have to assert control over determining the nature of the bills that get submitted for his signature, or else have to sign more popularity-killing monstrosities like the stimulus or Obamacare.  The first is beyond both the President’s official powers and personal skill set, and the second will get him defeated handily in two years.

So… it’s nothing personal, but it’s time for progressives/liberals to be publicly embarrassed again.  They will, of course, be expected to take it without murmuring.  Which they will, of course.  I mean, what are they going to do?  Vote Republican?

Heh. Though as Joe notes, “Well, the truth is that at least elements that were involved in some of the Tea Party folks expressed racist views.”

But I’m sure the NAACP will agree that once a group reaches a large enough size, there are bound to be the occasional radical fringe elements associated with it. Such as rabid anti-Semites Louis Farrakhan and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who were each invited to speak at the NAACP’s national conventions in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

And speaking of which, Ann Althouse makes a great point here, “Did Barack Obama tout himself as a post-racial President? Or did starry-eyed voters imagine that’s what they’d get?”

Seriously, quote me some quotes: What did he say? Or did he just stand back and allow white people to spin out their fantasies of conquering race once and for all? Was there a point when he should have spoken up and said, it’s not going to work that way? Is he guilty of deception or are those who voted based on the post-racial dream guilty of self-deception? Do you blame a political candidate for not correcting people who have formed an excessively idealized picture of him?

Remember when Bill Clinton said “This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen”? People didn’t want to hear that, and Bill himself hustled to deny that he was referring to the way people were fantasizing about the significance of electing a black President. It wasn’t to be talked about.

I think this idea that electing a black President would redeem us from all things racial was something that developed as a shared and mostly unspoken delusion. Obama presented himself as another candidate, running on issues, and throwing out high-level abstract platitudes. Those who voted for him because they believed his election would make us post-racial — and I’m not one of them, though I voted for him — need to take responsibility for their own distorted, exaggerated thoughts.

To be fair, that’s far from the worst example of distorted, exaggerated thought regarding Obama in 2007 and 2008.

But to return to Joe Biden, this is at least the second time in recent weeks that Joe, rather astonishingly, has been the sole voice of reason in an otherwise radical administration. Remember when he played good cop during Turkey’s Gaza flotilla stunt? This prompted John Podhoretz to post a letter from a reader of Commentary’s Contentions blog who asked “Is Biden Cover?”

Friends of Israel are expressing their satisfaction with Vice President Biden’s comments on Charlie Rose about the flotilla incident, and Politico is describing him as the West Wing’s most fervent supporter of the Jewish state. I have a different take on this.  Jewish donors all over the country have been telling Members of Congress how upset they are with Obama and with the White House. Reportedly, Jewish fundraising is way down. At the same time, in a lot of the country, candidates don’t want Obama to campaign for them, affecting turnout at local mega events. How to fix these two problems? Have good old Uncle Joe be the good cop and let him both reinforce that he is a friend of the Jews (even though that is a relative concept and he did nothing when head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to move Iran sanctions forward) and be the draw for local mega events. Biden assuages Jewish concerns about Obama and strokes the donors enough to get them to write checks again while the administration changes tone but no policies. Obama doesn’t get the Arab League upset, Members of Congress get the Jewish money shoveled into their accounts and in November all policy options are available to Obama to return to the “No more Mr. Nice Guy” role he feels most comfortable playing vis-à-vis Israel.

Typically, the modern vice president has been the more partisan member of an administration, allowing the president to remain nominally out of the fray of political battle. This has been true since at least Richard Nixon during Ike’s days, to Lydon Johnson during Kennedy’s all-too-brief administration, and especially Spiro Agnew and Dick Cheney. What does it say about the Obama administration when his veep is the one who keeps trying to put the brakes on?

Update: More of Joe’s awesome message discipline documented here.