Sunday, August 24, 2008

Biden's Transformation from Gaffe Machine to Statesman

Mark Schmitt in the American prospect paints a fairly favorable potrait of Joe Biden. He casts Biden's famous tendency to bloviate as evidence of his passion for issues. I'm amazed at the transformation of Biden from blowhard to statesman. Just a few months ago, the media was having a laugh over Biden penchant for gaffes. Remember the "clean" comments toward Obama on the first day of Biden's campaign?

Why the rehabilitation of his image? The "gaffe machine" framing of Biden was never fair. There was always a more compelling story behind his wordiness. Listening to the Sunday talk shows, the reviews have been almost all favorable. There's no digging into Biden's past to pull out embarrassing quotes...yet?

Obama's selection of Biden and the subsequent coverage might signal that we're coming to the end of the era where "gotcha" politics plays a central role. The era of constant scrutiny makes gaffes part of the everyday stuff of politics rather than something unusual. In this climate, everyone will slip up, so why focus on that aspect of a candidate. In this case, Obama's campaign has decided to go with someone who can respond to attacks rather than someone who is restrained in speech. What this might mean is that the ability to respond to attack or to reinforce the larger frame you want to construct for your opponent is more important than the occasional mistake. It will be interesting to see his Wednesday night speech.

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