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 How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn?… So all this stuff is like so much Fluffernutter out there.”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.