2007 - %3, February

Some Day, Hipsters Will Wear "Biden '08" T-Shirts as an Ironic Statement

| Thu Feb. 1, 2007 9:38 AM EST

Want a summary of this Joe Biden/Barack Obama situation? You'll find one below; it doubles as a timeline of the Biden campaign, start to finish.

First, Biden gave a crazy interview to the NY Observer in which he said several things about several people. He may have set the record for most scorn and most Fluffernutter references (one) in any interview ever. "I don't think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about," he said, beginning a long tirade about John Edwards' lack of sophistication on the war. "John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, 'I want us out of there,' but when you come back and you say, 'O.K., John, what about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?' Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn?... So all this stuff is like so much Fluffernutter out there." (There it is!)

Hillary Clinton's position on Iraq would be "nothing but disaster," Biden said, and even though "everyone in the world knows her... she can't break out of 30 percent for a choice for Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100 percent of the Democrats know you? They've looked at you for the last three years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?"

But a very special kind of blabbering was reserved for Barack Obama and black presidential candidates. "You got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy... I mean, that's a storybook, man." And that's where Biden's comments leave the realm of Democratic rival-bashing and enter some pretty touchy territory.

Following the interview, Biden immediately started backtracking, telling reporters that even though he was "quoted accurately" they should "call Senator Obama. He knew what I meant by it." (He added, "Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican party has produced at least since I've been around.")

Reporters then found Obama, who was conciliatory. "I didn't take it personally and I don't think he intended to offend."

But later that day Obama released a statement that said, "I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate... African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

Reporters pressed Biden on what the word "clean" meant. Biden responded, "[Obama] understood exactly what I meant... And I have no doubt that Jesse Jackson and every other black leader — Al Sharpton and the rest — will know exactly what I meant."

So reporters went to Jesse Jackson, and whoops: "I am not sure what he means — ask him to explain what he meant." Jackson pointed out that when both Jackson and Biden ran for president (in 1988), Jackson lasted longer and got more votes. Al Sharpton, god bless him, pointed out that he bathes every day.

Eventually, audio of Biden's comments to the Observer became available and the inevitable arguments over whether the transcription should have included an extra comma or period, thus mitigating the insensitivity of Biden's comments, began. And that was how Joe Biden doomed himself to a lifetime of frustrated irrelevancy in the Senate.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Mooninites Attack!

| Thu Feb. 1, 2007 3:16 AM EST

This story blows my mind. Apparently, some strange battery-powered devices were found at various points around Boston today, causing officials to shut down freeways, bridges, part of the transit system, and a section of the Charles River. Bomb squads were called in to detonate the devices. Turns out these things are harmless battery-powered blinking LED light boards featuring a Mooninite, a character from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," which is itself a surreal 15-minute cartoon series airing on Adult Swim, the late-night "alternative" programming brand on Cartoon Network. All this was part of a marketing campaign for the upcoming "Hunger Force" movie: "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters."

Thank You, Molly Ivins

| Thu Feb. 1, 2007 1:31 AM EST

I was a cub reporter in Minneapolis -- the city where she'd cut her journalistic teeth a couple of decades earlier -- when I first met Molly Ivins. It was one of those damp blue Midwestern early summer days, and we sat outside the clubhouse where she'd just given a reading, on wrought-iron chairs that she made look like doll furniture. She was tall, and incredibly red-headed, and the biggest personality I'd ever met; also gentle, and funny, and patient as I fumbled with my microphone and asked starstruck questions about her life, her politics, and the town we'd both covered. We compared notes about how remarkably venal and corrupt a city run by supposedly squeaky-clean Democrats could be when given half a chance, which having come of age in the Reagan years I'd somehow been too naive to expect. Mostly, though, I didn't say anything: I just drank up what it was like to see a woman be sharply political and yet uproariously funny, unapologetic and uncompromising, completely confident with the good old boys and completely capable of beating them at their own game, and all this without even seeming to try very hard at all. There were not many women writing like that in the 80s, which is why I dreamed of being Molly Ivins when I grew up; there still aren't many like her today, and magazines like Mother Jones are run and written overwhelmingly by men. Why? I don't know exactly: Because most women are not trained, as many men have been, to presume that the world is dying to hear what we have to say? Because having an outsized personality and convictions to match makes you lonely, as a woman more so than a man? Because so many of us, anxious to get along, learn to lace our opinions, even inadvertently, with qualifiers and fudges, with "I think"s and "I could be wrong, but"s? Molly didn't fudge, but neither did she lecture: She just told you what she thought, and often it wasn't what you might have expected at a time when the left had grown timid and self-referential and obsessed with PC nuance. She went for the roundhouse punch when everyone else was busy wringing their hands, and she liked those -- Democrats, Republicans, men and women, good old boys and bad new girls -- willing to do the same. She made us laugh, and she made us smarter, and she cut through a lot of B.S. Now it's time to thank her for it: As she wrote, in her very last column just a couple of weeks ago: "Raise hell." And have fun.

Molly was a contributor to Mother Jones for many years, and in the coming days, you'll hear more from the people who worked with her; we'll also have an archive of her stories for this magazine. For a quick sketch of her life, see Josh Harkinson's story here.