Though I'm admittedly no journalist, I know the kinds of pitfalls that come from writing about the "reporting" of other blogs. Even if the blog I'm reporting on belongs to CBS News.
Throughout the numerous articles that spoke about the particular stop Biden made to make some speech today, nothing stood out to make me care what he was speaking about. It's still mostly The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the details of which I know very little, or about as much as anyone who will end up voting on its passage. However, among all the AP-ripoffs and rewordings, I found a blog on CBS News using the kind of title no one with my level of intelligence should fall for. "Is Biden Looking Ahead to 2016?"
Naturally, there are many reasons that grabbed my attention. "Looking Ahead" is an obvious nod to my political alter ego who shares my name, who wrote a book entitled "Looking Forward," and 2016, the year my character becomes eligible to be a presidential candidate, further seals the deal that this CBS News blogger is trying to communicate with me on some other plane. Mostly, though, its the question-marked title proposing that our fresh, young veep might be poised to pull the old Veep Standard and follow-up his time at the Observatory with a stint in the White House.
So I clicked, poised to read some juicy tidbit about Biden's secret desires as revealed through an anonymous friend or staffer, or some analysis deeper than anything I might be able to muster, given my lack of time and journalism degree. I began asking myself questions, like "What kind of president would Biden be?" and "How is he qualified to be president?" and "Does this mean we might have to cut him out of our book? Luckily, the answer is no. The weakness of any book on the VPs is that you're invariably writing it during the term of a man who one day may become president. And, let's face it, the odds of something interesting happening during his term right as you're about to go to print are pretty good.
Luckily for me, my curiosity was left thirsty, as this blog contained nothing of the sort of answers or analysis I had hoped for. Outside of the punctuation and spelling errors, the blog fell victim to the same disease many journalists and bloggers have fallen to - an acute misunderstanding of the Vice Presidential office. Or, as its known to me, "Hewitt's Disease."
The blog showed its colors thus:
"The vice president has taken an active role in foreign policy debates and on issues that are central to the administration -- most notably, he has been one of the biggest advocates of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the economic stimulus plan which was passed and signed by President Obama in February."
Firstly, not only is this the biggest reveal of the article, its also the least thought about piece of information. Thinking that the VP is showing presidential mettle because he's taking "an active role in... issues that are central to the administration" is not understanding the office in the least. Its not as though Biden came up with some huge novel of a plan, proposed it to Obama, sent it through some sort of committee, then waited up till all hours to hear the news, his head buried in his palms with the fear of rejection eating away at his very soul. Someone in the administration said "Joe, you should probably do this," to which Biden said "Okay." I don't know how many times this needs to be said, but THE VICE PRESIDENT HAS NO FUNCTION. None. Sure, he breaks tie votes, but a random-number generator could do that.
Secondly, lauding his advocacy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - an act the administration is pushing through Biden - is a spurious claim of political autonomy on the part of Biden. If Biden weren't pushing this act, he wouldn't be doing his job. The blog might as well be saying Jimmy should manage the McDonald's because he's taken the initiative to make food. That's a huge logical overstep, assuming that Biden's basic duties and line-towing are somehow indicative of being presidential.
Finally, the real point is, of course Biden wants to run in 2016. Not sure if anyone can do this, but let's think back to Auust 23, 2009, almost a year ago, when Barack Obama took the time out to personally text-message his millions of supporters individually to let them know that he had chosen Biden for his running-mate (which, by the end of the night, read "Bidnz veap lolz, omfg so xozted"), who, if you'll also remember, was his competitor in a race to become President of the United States.
Sure, as the article points out, Biden would be 74 by the time his chance rolls around (a little over twice my own age at that point, I'll point out), but he's had the desire before. Hell, I heard a little rumor on NPR just the other day that pol-turned-pundit Mike Huckabee is considered a "front-runner" (by who, I'm not sure) for the Republican ticket in 2012. In a day when Mike Huckabee gets a second chance, there's no way the guy a heartbeat away from office is going to pass up the chance. So, just in case there's some doubt, I'll answer any lingering questions the CBS Blogger, Stephanie Condon, might have.
Yes, Joe Biden wants to the President of the United States, and he'll likely run in 2016.
- Jason C. Klamm