Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joe Drops Some Real

In case you haven't heard, on Monday, Joe Biden, right after introducing President Obama and lauding the passage of health care reform bill, turned to the President and said the following, perhaps historic, phrase:
"This is a big fucking deal."
Okay, this might not be the kind of folksiness we're used to, but Joe put a point on it, and Obama was none the worse for it. Let's try and take a step back from what happened and get around all of the small-minded mentions of this, calling the VP things like vulgar and stupid, and look at what it means to us as a nation.


We all swear. If you don't swear, fine, but you need to accept that most of us do. That said, most of us don't - and can't - do it on the job. That said, Biden is always on the job, and he was whispering to Obama like he would a good pal. That's right, the Vice President and President seem to be pals. What does that mean?

A lot.

Presidents, historically, either come from the Vice Presidency - at which point they pity the VP from experience or because they know what an arbitrary choice he was - or downright hate the VP, as he's normally not their choice. Go back to Rutherford B. Hayes who said, after William Wheeler was chosen as VP:
"Who is Wheeler?"
That statement gives me less faith in the system. Biden dropping the big one, though, doesn't, and is just a further indication that the VP is part of the system, rather than just a talking head. Sure, Obama looked a little put off by the remark, but that didn't sway him. I have a feeling he's used to this kind of talk, and that Biden is probably something of a cheerleader behind the scenes, as well. Call that what you will, but Biden's too-loud utterance of an "obscenity" is nothing more than a little too much volume.

I just hope this didn't run on any major networks like that. Then the FCC would have to fine him a year's pay.

Also, in case you weren't paying attention to... well, the news, in the last couple of weeks, Joe took a trip to Israel... Okay, that's an understatement. Joe made actual history this month.

Biden, who has a long-standing friendship with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, came to Israel to announce support for Israel against Iran's nuclear ambitions on the condition that Israel start negotiating the placements of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Then, not long after Biden's arrival, came the news that Israeli officials were planning to build in East Jerusalem, one of the most hotly fought-over pieces of land in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Biden made history simply by making an example of this attempt to "embarrass" Biden, as Newsweek put it.
“Yesterday the decision by the Israeli government to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem undermined that very trust, the trust that we need right now in order to begin as well as have profitable negotiations. That is why I immediately condemned the action.”
And he said this all while standing next to Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. He used the word "condemn," and against Israel. This is not only a show of American power by a VP, as it was intended to be, but it was also a warning shot, diplomacy-wise. Whoever's choice it was to use the words that Biden spoke, the fact that he spoke them was truly powerful for a VP, just as much as it was for an American Administration in danger of looking weak. While they were there to, essentially, threaten Iran, they took Israel to task for breaking a deal.

America has a long history of supporting Israel, regardless of their position in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israeli offense often equals or exceeds that of Palestine, and perhaps a shake-up like this can cause a necessary re-assessment of priorities when it comes to intervention in foreign policy and conflict. As many perhapses as that might be, what is clear is that Biden is becoming a VP with power.

- Jason C. Klamm

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