Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gird your loins, a crisis looms


Forget Joe the Plumber. That Joe, after all, isn't running for office, and his only claim to fame is managing, when approached by Barack Obama, to get the Democrat to reveal his philosophy of taxation ("spread the wealth around"). For having the audacity to actually elicit information that told us something about Obama, poor Joe was promptly vetted by a media claque that hasn't been keen on vetting the first-term senator from Illinois.

No, it's Joe the Senator who should concern us. Our text today is what the ever-voluble vice presidential candidate said about Obama at a Seattle fundraiser last weekend. I quote at length to do Biden full justice:

"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. ... Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. ... And he's going to need help. And the kind of help he's going to need is, he's going to need you ... to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not going to be apparent initially, it's not going to be apparent that we're right. ... Gird your loins. We're going to win with your help. God willing, we're going to win, but this is not going to be an easy ride.

"This guy has it. But he's going to need your help. Because I promise you, you all are going to be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh, my God, why are they there in the polls? Why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?' We're going to have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now ... be prepared to stick with us. ... There are going to be a lot of you who want to go, 'Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don't know about that decision.' Because if you think the decision is sound when they're made ... they're not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they're popular, they're probably not sound. ...

"I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here."

Biden's Seattle stylings raise loads of questions and one warning. The warning? Sarah Palin, don't try this at home. Or the office. Or at the back of the press bus. Or even when you're gutting a moose. Just hinting that Obama will be tested in any of several major foreign-policy crises and that even his own backers will find his response lacking, and you'll come to envy that disemboweled moose.

Now for some questions for Biden:

Just what were you talking about, Joe?

Would you elaborate on the crises Obama could confront? Details, please.

Why won't it be readily apparent that Obama has responded well to these tests? Details, please.

Not every incoming president faces a time of testing. President Kennedy did and failed to measure up until the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. But our enemies didn't "test" Dwight Eisenhower or George H.W. Bush. Indeed, they made peace offerings to Ronald Reagan (Iran's freeing of the 52 U.S. hostages on the day of his inauguration). Why would our enemies feel the need to test an Obama and not a John McCain?

Could it be that, as Biden said before joining the ticket, that Obama's not ready to be president—"the presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training"—and that McCain is?

Why are such musings appropriate at fundraisers and not campaign speeches or debates?

What is it about West Coast fundraisers that prompt the two of you guys to let fly with the family secrets? In San Francisco, we learned Obama believes that bitter small-town Pennsylvanians cling to God and guns. In Seattle, Biden warned that Obama will face an international crisis in the first months of an administration. Heaven knows what we would find out if Biden let 'er rip in Portland.

Don't voters deserve to know this before Election Day? Please reply with the candor you demonstrated in Seattle and San Francisco.

Yes, I'd like actual campaign reporters to ask such questions of Obama and Biden between now and Election Day. But this year, for the first time, I've given up on the prestige media to think it's their job to do so. I now depend on the likes of Joe the Plumber.

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