The NY Times has written four or five pieces about Joe Biden’s gaffes in the past year but today’s piece really summarizes the ongoing issue Biden has controlling his own tongue:
Joseph R. Biden Jr. was making an impassioned case for protecting undocumented immigrants one recent Sunday when he abruptly stopped himself.
“There’s many more things, but —” he said before trailing off at a union forum.
Minutes later, Mr. Biden interrupted himself again.
“So there’s a, there’s — my time up?” he said, echoing a line he had used when he stumbled in the first presidential debate this year. “I guess not. I guess it is.”
This rambling, semi-coherent style causes him problems when he veers into saying things that seem off-topic, outdated, or just plain confused. For instance, his war story in which he gets most of the details wrong. Or his record-player answer which really was a trainwreck. Or his statement that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” Just this month he gave an answer in which he referenced “gay, gay bath houses”:
The LGBTQ Town Hall went great for Biden, uh pic.twitter.com/QUjQlJI1Xg
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 11, 2019
He keeps doing this so often that it’s impossible not to notice. And yet, based on recent polling, a lot of Democrats don’t seem that concerned over it. A few even find it to be part of his charm:
“He’s real hard to follow,” Ms. Hunter, 57, said. “I have a lot of concern about his ability to concentrate, his attention span, the ability to get the job done.”
But Patty Madden, 69, and Bev Alderson, 60, two former teachers, said Mr. Biden’s informal, story-laden speaking style was part of his charm.
“I love it,” Ms. Alderson said. “It appeals to the common people, working class, Americans, everybody!”
“I know he falls over some of his words, we all do,” Ms. Madden said.
“Oh, big deal!” Ms. Alderson interjected. “He speaks from his heart.”
This is not all that different from the dynamic that seems to insulate President Trump from criticism among his supporters. Yes, he says things no other president would say, but that’s because he’s not concerned about political correctness. He’s just speaking the blunt truth. Similarly, for Biden’s people, even his gaffes are a reason to like him more.
I think Biden’s Democratic competitors have been going relatively easy on his gaffes thus far, in part because he’s popular and in part because they like him personally. But that dynamic is changing and, if he wins the nomination, it will change dramatically when he’s facing off with Trump in a debate. Trump, I suspect, would seize on these gaffes, possibly even in real-time. Then instead of politely ignoring these gaffes the media and the public will have to decide if they want to embrace them. Maybe they will but I’m no convinced these statements will remain charming through next November.
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