Why Joe Biden's gaffes don't matter

In 2012, a Biden gaffe had serious repercussions for the Obama administration: His “Meet the Press” declaration that he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. That forced Obama to take a stance on a position he’d only danced around in the past, and just days later, he became the first U.S. president to fully endorsed gay marriage.

The only time a mess-up could have derailed the vice president’s career was in 1988, when it was discovered that the then-senator had plagiarized parts of a speech from British politician Neil Kinnock. Shortly after, it came out that he’d lifted text for a paper in law school, forcing him to end his presidential campaign.

This, though, was a substantial error–not a gaffe. Biden’s favorability rating has remained largely static during his time as vice president, and, as he himself acknowledged Tuesday in the very same speech where he called amoral bankers Shylocks, his slip-ups come from his propensity to, well, be himself. “No one ever doubts that I mean what I say,” he said. “The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.”