One of the more tiresome habits politicians have is to inject personal anecdotes into answers on economic questions as a way of avoiding discussion of real data. Both sides do it, although usually this happens when one side wants to make things look worse than they are by noting that someone, somewhere is suffering. It helps when that someone, somewhere actually exists — as Joe Biden is discovering this morning. In the debate last night, Biden referenced a Katie’s Restaurant in Wilmington as an example of how bad the Bush economic policies have been:
PALIN: So that people there can understand how the average working class family is viewing bureaucracy in the federal government and Congress and inaction of Congress.
Just everyday working class Americans saying, you know, government, just get out of my way. If you’re going to do any harm and mandate more things on me and take more of my money and income tax and business taxes, you’re going to have a choice in just a few weeks here on either supporting a ticket that wants to create jobs and bolster our economy and win the war or you’re going to be supporting a ticket that wants to increase taxes, which ultimately kills jobs, and is going to hurt our economy.
BIDEN: Can I respond? Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie’s Restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years. And then ask them whether there’s a single major initiative that John McCain differs with the president on. On taxes, on Iraq, on Afghanistan, on the whole question of how to help education, on the dealing with health care.
Look, the people in my neighborhood, they get it. They get it. They know they’ve been getting the short end of the stick. So walk with me in my neighborhood, go back to my old neighborhood in Claymont, an old steel town or go up to Scranton with me. These people know the middle class has gotten the short end. The wealthy have done very well. Corporate America has been rewarded. It’s time we change it. Barack Obama will change it.
Maybe Biden doesn’t get around in his neighborhood very often. Curtis Sliwa of WABC called around Wilmington this morning to find Katie’s Restaurant, only to discover that it went out of business — during the Clinton Administration:
Try as he might, Biden just doesn’t come across as a “man of the people”. He looks and acts patrician despite his blue-collar roots. This is a perfect demonstration of that. Sliwa had a lot of fun calling Home Depot locations in the Wilmington area and asking whether or not they’ve seen Biden (they haven’t), but the fact that Katie’s has been closed for 15 years and Biden didn’t know it shows that Biden has no clue about “his neighborhood” or what people go through there.
By contrast, Sarah Palin doesn’t have to work at being authentic. She has a natural authenticity that shines in every appearance she makes. She worked her way through local politics, starting with the city council, all the way to the governor’s office of Alaska, unlike Biden, who ran for Senate three years after getting his law license. Palin knows and understands Main Street in Wasilla and Juneau, while Biden doesn’t even know that one of his restaurants stopped operating during the first Clinton term.
Epic fail on authenticity, Senator. And next time, stop in at Kozy Korner. They seem to be doing well.