It was a memorable moment at the inauguration when a familiar face said from the stage, “I am proud to be the President of the United States”—memorable because the man who said it was not the President of the United States. Worse, it was Joe Biden.
The line was met with an auditorium of laughter. The Vice President gave that familiar look that screams out “What? What I say?” and his son Beau, Delaware’s attorney general, quickly whispered in his ear, “You said president.” But this wasn’t your standard Biden gaffe, this was Freudian; it was wishful speaking.
It is worth pointing out that Biden made the slip at Iowa’s pre-inauguration ball. Biden also spent time with Democratic state officials from New Hampshire. Iowa and New Hampshire will be the first two contests in the 2016 Democrat primary, as they are every four years.
It left little doubt in anyone’s mind that Joe Biden has started his unofficial campaign for president.
No one seemed to enjoy inauguration day more than Biden. In the minutes before President Obama was to enter the stage for his swearing in, his face was solemn, an appropriate acknowledgement of the history being written. At that same moment, the Vice President bounded onto the stage, waving, laughing and pointing at people he knew, an act more appropriate for a casino opening than a presidential inauguration.
It was pure Biden. It is why he will never be elected president.
If the Obama presidency was a sitcom, Biden would be the wacky next-door neighbor, Dick Van Dyke’s Jerry Helper or Seinfeld’s Kramer. He’s the guy who enters without knocking, says something inappropriate, and then leaves. He is comic relief.
Biden has made so many political gaffes that soon the word Biden will become a synonym for political gaffes. Let’s take a moment to recall some of his greatest hits.
• New Delhi-ware, June 2006: CSPAN cameras caught then Senator Joe Biden telling an Indian-American voter that he knows lots of other Indian-Americans. “In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
• Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That, August 2012: While campaigning in Detroit, Biden tried to explain to the crowd how he knew that Barack Obama is a great president. “I have known eight presidents, three of them intimately.” The crowd snickered.
• We Know Who One of Them Is, April 2012: While explaining to students at NYU that President Obama is tough on foreign policy, Biden quoted Teddy Roosevelt. “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. I promise you, the President has a big stick. I promise you.” The crowd laughed out loud.
• The Dead Shall Rise, March 2010: In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cohen was an honored guest at the White House. Joe Biden talked about Cohen’s mother. “His mom lived in Long Island for 10 years or so, God rest her soul and, um, wait, your mom, your mom’s still alive.”
• And the Disabled Shall Walk, September 2008: While campaigning in Columbia, Missouri, Biden was giving the obligatory shout-out to local lawmakers when he got to state senator Chuck Graham. “Stand up Chuck, let ‘em see ya.” Graham has been confined to a wheelchair since he lost the use of his legs in a car accident.
Despite those and other famous Bidens, or maybe because of them, 66 percent of Americans like the Vice President. But they like him in a wacky sitcom neighbor kind of way. In other words, they like him popping up every once in a while for a laugh, but they really don’t want him running anything. And that’s why he won’t be president. That and Hillary Clinton.
If Hillary decides to run, the Democratic Party will try to clear the field and convince Biden not to run against her. It must kill Biden, who ran for president in 1988 and 2008, that his last chance at a presidential run depends on what Hillary decides.
If Hillary does run and wins the nomination, she should pick Biden as her running mate. He won’t have the top job, but he will make history. It would be “a big f’ing deal”, as Biden once famously told President Obama on an open microphone. Clinton-Biden, 2016! It just might work. America likes Joe in that roll, if only for the comic relief.