Joe Biden Stick His Foot in His Mouth, but Obama Won't Dump Him From the Ticket

If this were the real world, which presidential politics sure are not these days in a campaign that feels like mud-wrestling, Joe Biden would be fired for what he said the other day about chains. Biden would be gone and Barack Obama would be doing something he should have done a year ago, at least, which means ask Hillary Clinton to run with him.

“It’s a little bit of a dream,” a big Democrat told me on Monday, talking about Hillary, before Biden opened his big mouth again and made you wonder how he got this close to the presidency in the first place. “A little bit of a dream, but for what would be a dream ticket.”

You can come up with a hundred reasons why it will never happen, starting with the fact that Obama, who never wants you to see him sweat, would never allow himself to look like he needs to bring Hillary out of the bullpen. A better reason, of course, is that as tremendous a secretary of state as Hillary Clinton has been for him, Obama doesn’t like the Clintons any more than the Clintons really like him.

Sometimes you get the idea that the President likes having Hillary Clinton traveling the world the way she does so nobody spends too much time looking for an answer to the great unknowable question from 2008:

How much better off might we all be if Hillary Clinton had won?

Maybe all the experts will be right about the candidates for vice president in the end, and they won’t matter, not Paul Ryan and not Biden, who heads to the finish line of his first term looking like he’s in a sack race. And by the way, nobody cares what he meant to say the other day, whether he meant to talk about shackles rather than chains.

What matters is what the vice president of the United States did say to a predominantly black audience in Danville, Va.: “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

That was the big money quote from Biden, who doesn’t back up or apologize for what he said originally. “I know I am sometimes criticized for saying exactly what I mean,” Biden said in Blacksburg, Va., on Wednesday. “It’s not going to change.”

That is only good news for the people running against him. You know all those pictures we see these days of Paul Ryan, fitness buff, running? The guy will run faster getting to a debate with Biden than the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay in the Olympics.

This doesn’t make Biden some enemy of the state, or as dangerous as Dick Cheney once was. But Biden continues to live one of the great charmed lives any vice president has ever lived.

Again: Whatever he meant to say about Wall Street and what might happen to average Americans if Romney-Ryan wins, he said what he said.

Four years ago, we would have looked to drop a safe on Sarah Palin for saying what Biden said in Danville. Romney can’t say what Biden said, neither can Ryan. Neither can any big politician you care to mention.

But somehow Biden keeps going, mostly because of where we have set the bar with him by now. Nobody expected him to help Barack Obama in the coming race against Romney, and maybe he does no permanent damage to the President because of what he said. But for now, it is Biden who comes across as a ball and a chain in this race.

A Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton ticket would have "a darn good chance of winning," former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told Fox News.

It is Joe Biden who has people anxious now to see Ryan go up against him the way they were to see Cheney go up against a featherweight like John Edwards when Edwards ran with John Kerry in 2004. And that was before we knew about what kind of husband Edwards was to a dying wife.

You know Biden looks bad right now because when Palin comes after him, talking about Hillary Clinton, for the first time she sounds like someone who could actually make it all the way through The Times crossword on Sunday.

“I don’t want to throw out that suggestion, and have them actually accept the suggestion, because then an Obama/Clinton ticket would have a darn good chance of winning,” Palin said in an interview on Fox. “But really, Joe Biden really drags down that ticket.”

In a week when the Republican choice for vice president was supposed to make all the hot-button news, it was the real vice president who did that instead.

It is probably too late for Hillary, who is going to run for President one way or the other in 2016. Still, at a time when she looks like the most respected Democrat anywhere, including the one in the White House, that big Democrat was right on the money on Monday. Bit of a dream, but one about a dream ticket.

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By Erin B 08/16/2012 01:16:00