Commentary Magazine


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Biden Runs off the Rails

Well, there goes Joe Biden again. Yesterday, he appeared in New Jersey to announce federal backing for a new tunnel. He said that it would be a great boost for automobile commuters — a statement that left the people actually working on the tunnel wondering how the cars would maneuver along those big, parallel steel rails running down the middle of the structure.

This is but the latest (if one of the milder) episodes of our vice president “just being Joe.” The man’s ability to shove both feet in his mouth and still keep spouting nonsense is beyond legend. Fortunately, most of Joe’s blunders are harmless — inviting a handicapped man to stand up and wave to the audience, describing then-Senator Obama as “clean and articulate,” etc. They’re good for a laugh or two at his expense, but they’re readily dismissible.

Others fall into the category of the classic definition of a gaffe — when a politician inadvertently says the truth. These are the remarks that make those around him wince and cringe, and even occasionally rebuke him. Examples include his zinging Chief Justice Roberts over the fumbling of Obama’s oath of office, his stating that Hillary Clinton would probably be a better choice for veep than him, and his recent mocking of Obama’s use of teleprompters.

Every now and then, though, Joe outdoes himself and says something that could cause genuine harm. During the initial stages of the Swine Flu (I’m sorry — “H1N1 Flu”) outbreak, he stated that he was urging his family to avoid public transportation, especially air travel, to stay safe — advice that the perpetually struggling airlines did not need to hear. And he casually revealed the existence of a previously top-secret bunker under the Vice President’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.

Perhaps his latest slip of the tongue was no slip and the government-owned General Motors will come out with new car models that can run on tracks.