Biden's Bully Pulpit

Russ Vaughn
The conventional post-debate wisdom has been that Joe Biden's boorish behavior during the VP debate was intentional, at least in part, as a means of firing up the demoralized Democrat base. That the left would even admit that it is demoralized is telling when we are this close to the election, but it is the contention that Biden's performance was aimed at re-energizing the base, much of which in the last election was made up by the 18-24 demographic, that seems rather lame to this observer.


What do the proponents of this theory see in Biden's browbeating that has youthful appeal other than its in-your-face-America defiance? Here we have a pompous pol with phony old guy written all over him to youthful viewers, what with his hair plugs and improbably perfect dental implants, not just imperiously talking over his serious, well-informed, youthful opponent, but condescendingly and disrespectfully wagging his bony index finger in the face of the female moderator who seemed cowed by his aggression. Somehow I have a problem seeing Old Joe's bullying behavior as being appealing to very many young folks whose youthful status too often renders them victims to similar condescension from arrogant professors, demanding bosses, and even older family members who still view them as callow children.


Not all of the 2008 youth vote for Obama came from hard left Occupy types; many serious young people sincerely seeking to make this a better world joined the Hope & Change campaign. How many of those, this time around, have had the blinders removed by the reality that their faith in a supposedly transformative Obama was squandered on just another glib politician? How many of those young people do you think were impressed by Biden's buffoonery? Sure, the Occupy fools who believe urinating on a police car is a meaningful political statement would no doubt be impressed with Joe's bluster and bullying, but how many of them do you think were actually doing anything as responsible as watching a televised political debate? As opposed to the serious students and the gainfully employed in the youth cohort?


True, Biden's atrocious display may have fired up a few of the faithful on the far left, especially some of the administration's apologists in the media, like Daily Kos, who sent me an email claiming that Uncle Joe had brought us back from the Obama debate debacle. But I'll wager that even many loyal, older Democrats had to experience some queasiness watching the man they want to re-elect to be a heartbeat away from the presidency demonstrate such immaturity and poor character in front of a nationwide audience. Worse, what were the independents and the Reagan Democrats out in flyover land likely to take away from such a display of deficient judgment?


It is highly likely that those who are praising Biden's performance are going to be jerked back to reality when the polls reveal America's response to his jerkish behavior. And if Biden's boorishness was in fact intentional, as some liberals have proclaimed, the situation becomes even worse. The man was given the bully pulpit and he proceeded to use it as any bully would, a not-so-smart move in a nation where bullying is one of the serious social pathologies of our time. 

The conventional post-debate wisdom has been that Joe Biden's boorish behavior during the VP debate was intentional, at least in part, as a means of firing up the demoralized Democrat base. That the left would even admit that it is demoralized is telling when we are this close to the election, but it is the contention that Biden's performance was aimed at re-energizing the base, much of which in the last election was made up by the 18-24 demographic, that seems rather lame to this observer.


What do the proponents of this theory see in Biden's browbeating that has youthful appeal other than its in-your-face-America defiance? Here we have a pompous pol with phony old guy written all over him to youthful viewers, what with his hair plugs and improbably perfect dental implants, not just imperiously talking over his serious, well-informed, youthful opponent, but condescendingly and disrespectfully wagging his bony index finger in the face of the female moderator who seemed cowed by his aggression. Somehow I have a problem seeing Old Joe's bullying behavior as being appealing to very many young folks whose youthful status too often renders them victims to similar condescension from arrogant professors, demanding bosses, and even older family members who still view them as callow children.


Not all of the 2008 youth vote for Obama came from hard left Occupy types; many serious young people sincerely seeking to make this a better world joined the Hope & Change campaign. How many of those, this time around, have had the blinders removed by the reality that their faith in a supposedly transformative Obama was squandered on just another glib politician? How many of those young people do you think were impressed by Biden's buffoonery? Sure, the Occupy fools who believe urinating on a police car is a meaningful political statement would no doubt be impressed with Joe's bluster and bullying, but how many of them do you think were actually doing anything as responsible as watching a televised political debate? As opposed to the serious students and the gainfully employed in the youth cohort?


True, Biden's atrocious display may have fired up a few of the faithful on the far left, especially some of the administration's apologists in the media, like Daily Kos, who sent me an email claiming that Uncle Joe had brought us back from the Obama debate debacle. But I'll wager that even many loyal, older Democrats had to experience some queasiness watching the man they want to re-elect to be a heartbeat away from the presidency demonstrate such immaturity and poor character in front of a nationwide audience. Worse, what were the independents and the Reagan Democrats out in flyover land likely to take away from such a display of deficient judgment?


It is highly likely that those who are praising Biden's performance are going to be jerked back to reality when the polls reveal America's response to his jerkish behavior. And if Biden's boorishness was in fact intentional, as some liberals have proclaimed, the situation becomes even worse. The man was given the bully pulpit and he proceeded to use it as any bully would, a not-so-smart move in a nation where bullying is one of the serious social pathologies of our time.