Top Menu

Obama-Biden Versus Romney-Ryan Now Four-Way Brawl

Forgive me, but I’m not prepared to join this walk down Great Umbrage Street just yet. Yes, it’s ugly out there. But is this worse than four years ago, when Obama was accused by the GOP vice presidential nominee of “palling around with terrorists”? Or eight years ago, when Democratic nominee John Kerry was accused of falsifying his Vietnam War record? – Dana Milbank

WHAT’S DIFFERENT about the 2012 general election is that Barack Obama and his team aren’t weak, apologizing invertebrates, something Republicans haven’t seen since the bad old Bill Clinton days. Some supporters of former Pres. Bill Clinton, people who lived through the Reagan years and saw him slip through the impeachment knot on Iran-Contra, didn’t always agree with his policies, but the fighting spirit he showed hadn’t been seen since the 1960s. Pres. Obama is a chip off the Clinton block and even those of us who aren’t enamored with his Blue Dog Republicanism can appreciate that much, especially since the last three years the Republican Party has mainstreamed birtherism.

Now what’s happening is that with the pick of Paul Ryan the Republicans are double-teaming the Democrats, not only hitting Pres. Obama, but using one of the right’s economic young guns, Paul Ryan, to go after Joe.

From Jonathan Martin, who’s following the Vice President on the campaign trail, reports landed today that Biden’s team has gotten overzealous in their efforts to rein in Obama’s partner by editing pool reports, which is just wrong.

A pool report is written by an assigned news organization and distributed widely to journalists and others. Myself and anyone else receiving them rely on pool reports to accurately depict and report, not editorialize with partisan white-washing, what’s going on in real time.

His staff’s response is effectively to try to save Biden from himself. During the Virginia trip reporters were hustled out of retail campaign stops in diners and other intimate settings, aides tried to edit media pool reports for any potential landmines that could be seized on by Republicans and even hovered at close range to eavesdrop on journalists’ conversations with attendees at Biden rallies.

This is a real issue for Mr. Biden, but also for the Obama campaign:

Yet it’s the response to that remark that is so telling about their leash-tightening instincts when Biden has one of his moments. And the staff restrictiveness seems contagious. By mid-day Wednesday, following a rally on the Virginia Tech campus, a press aide for the Virginia campaign was eavesdropping as a reporter attempted to interview attendees who had spoken with the vice president on the rope line. The snooping happened with one attendee on one side of the gym and with another on the opposite end.

Yet what the campaign doesn’t seem to realize is that Biden is at his best when he’s not being minded.

“The thing that people really like about Joe Biden is he says what he thinks,” explained former Sen. Ted Kaufman, the Delaware Democrat who once served as Biden’s chief of staff and replaced him in the Senate..

Take Biden’s natural bluntness away and what you’ve got is the Democratic Chris Christie turned into Mitt Romney, someone who doesn’t connect and is wooden and painfully stiff. Let Joe be Joe.

Paul Ryan presents an opportunity for Joe Biden, but the pitfalls are real, because Ryan is in his prime and a practiced politician with real gifts and a mind that can regurgitate factoids wrapped in a quip.

The media is already whining that it’s getting too ugly. It’s utter nonsense. This has been the way of American politics going back to Jefferson and Adams:

Things got ugly fast. Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

In return, Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

The difference is people weren’t barraged with what was going on 24/7 and in 140 characters, delivered wherever you are and all of it landing in real time sequences that amount to a contagion of competing information to digest and analyze instantaneously before the next incoming email hits your smartphone inbox.

Paul Ryan’s entrance into the race has enlivened Mitt Romney and revved up of the general election and given Barack Obama and Joe Biden something they didn’t have in 2008. Two people on the other side with a real competitive vision for the country and the ability to drive that message to the people.

Covering developments is exhausting and exhilarating for reporters, political analysts and writers, even if it’s choking the public to tune out.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to Obama-Biden Versus Romney-Ryan Now Four-Way Brawl

  1. T-Steel August 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    For those of us on the “Whatever Program” and don’t work in the media, tuning out is easy breezy. I don’t remember the last time I watched a full 30 minutes of any CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. Because it’s way too much wacky wacky loopy loopy. But I’ve seen the effects of those “regular” folks who are absorbing too much in this race. They are internalizing what they are hearing and for some, it’s effecting their day-to-day life. One of my wife’s co-workers got sent home (my wife works for TIme Warner Cable – discount TV and Internet – YAY!) because he just couldn’t stop talking politics and annoying everyone. Couldn’t even sit in meetings without talking Obama – Romney.

    Yes, Team Obama and Team Romney are going to be slugging it out with the big guns. There is going to be a sizable amount of collateral damage. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, all of the candidates children, etc get dragged in.

  2. casualobserver August 16, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    I think a “let Biden be Biden” would have probably been the attitude of the Clintonista gang, but, let’s face it, the Obama crew is wound tighter than a drum when it comes to hanging on to a DC zipcode address.

    Not sure how the average voter ends up net on Biden…….on one hand, yes, I think the unscripted guy persona is reminiscent of the enviable campaigning skill of Willy J, however, at what point do they say, hey, I don’t want my VP to be dumber than me.

    Lost in the shuffle of the “put y’all back in chains” headlines, Biden also stood in Virginia, addressing Virginia voters and no doubt looking outward at signs that said Virginia and concluded his remarks by saying, “We can win North Carolina!”

    The guy is better than John Cleese sometimes.

  3. guyski August 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    This Biden stuff, is just a preemptive move by the Republicans in regards to thier VP pick. Guess they learned a lesson in 2008.

  4. Lake Lady August 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    This is an interesting article by Artur Davis an ex Dem who is speaking at the Repub convention. It is hard for me to reconcile such an irrational act with such a rational article.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong