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Biden’s True Role: The Clown

He surely didn’t plan it this way, but one sign of Barack Obama’s political genius — even if accidental — is the developing role of Joe Biden. Not as wise counselor, or sage guide to foreign policy, or as the Man of Great Experience, but rather as the Appointed Administration Clown.

Biden will draw the fire, the ire, and the satirical scorn of the late-night shows and “Saturday Night Live” — indeed, Biden has now twice been the butt of the joke on “SNL.” (Yes, my wife works for the show, but I have no inside knowledge of how  sketches as brilliant as this one get written.) Consider today’s head-spinning Biden blatherfest:

You know why I think Jill likes Claire McCaskill so well, Senator McCaskill? Jill is one of five sisters, Claire is one of three sisters. And I tell you what, you women raised with sisters are different than women raised with brothers. My sister is smart, runs every one of my campaigns; is beautiful; graduated with honors from college; is homecoming queen. But she’s a … she is what I call a “girl-boy” growing up, you know what I mean? And I tell you what? Girl-girls are tougher than girl-boys.

But there’s one important thing I noticed. The great thing about marrying into a family with five sisters, there’s always one that loves you. ‘Cause you can count on splitting them a bit. You know what I mean? I shouldn’t be going off like this, but — hey, folks, 37 more hours, 37 more hours…

It has proved impossible, so far, for the comedy world to come up with a take on Obama, because a) its members love him and don’t want to make fun of him and b) they have had it so impressed on them over time to be careful on matters of race that, unless they are black themselves, comedy writers and performers mostly shy away from humor that pokes fun at blacks. And black comedians and performers are, right now, feeling even more passionately about Obama than their white counterparts.

At this point in the game in 1992, comedy types loved Clinton too, but at least they had something trivial on him — his overindulgence in fast food. It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t anything that did him injury, but it was something.

Because of Biden’s chronic inability to keep his mouth shut, and his propensity for sounding silly, he may function as a contrast to Obama and will allow the world of comedy to maintain its worshipful attitude toward him. At the same time, the merciless ribbing of Biden will be cited endlessly as a sign that Jon Stewart and Co. are ready and willing to take it to the Obama administration.

Genius. Lucky genius, but genius nonetheless.


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