The Current Crisis

The Clown of Campaign ‘08

Listen to the pride of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

By 10.9.08

WASHINGTON -- How is it that an attractive woman who has been involved in state and local government since the early 1990s without much controversy is now passed off in the media as an airhead? Yet her opponent, long known as an airhead, a braggart, and even a plagiarist, is now passed off as a statesman? I have in mind Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware or Scranton, Pennsylvania, or wherever he now claims to hail from. In September Governor Palin sat before ABC's Charlie Gibson and CBS's Katie Couric and was asked any question that popped into their minds or the minds of their researchers. The comely governor responded adequately. She might not win first prize on Jeopardy, but then no Jeopardy winner has governed Alaska. Nonetheless she is portrayed in the mainstream moron media as an airhead and Senator Biden is a statesman.

Well, take a glance at Senator Biden's performance just last month. On September he 22 bragged to a Baltimore audience that, "If you want to know where al-Qaida lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are." Two days later he continued his B.S.-ing that al-Qaida's headquarters had been moved to "the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where my helicopter was recently forced down." Both statements were rehashes of his September 9 garbagespiel that "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan [is] where my helicopter was forced down." Left unsaid by the senator -- who rarely leaves anything unsaid -- was that the helicopter was "brought down" not by enemy fire but by inclement weather.

Okay, maybe those outbursts do not reveal Senator Biden as an airhead, but they do reveal him as a phony. So consider a couple more of the senator's September follies. On September 17 at an appearance in Ohio, Senator Biden tapped the chest of a reporter (presumably male) and said, "You need to work on your pecs." Then there was the senator's interview with Couric. It is Couric, of course, who supposedly revealed Governor Palin's intellectual weightlessness, but late in September she revealed both herself and Senator Biden to be ignoramuses.

While interviewing him on what appeared to be a bus, Couric evoked this response from the Democrats' vice presidential candidate: "When the stock market crashed [in 1929] Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" Actually Roosevelt was not president until 1933, and in 1929 there was no "television audience" because there was no television available to consumers. By now all Biden-watchers have had a good laugh at his expense on this one, but the laugh is on Couric too. Her round, girlish, expressionless face revealed no hint that she was aware of the senator's botched history.

So Senator Biden in one month reminds us that he is a phony and an airhead, but in September he also reminded us that he is a plagiarist. In his 1988 presidential bid he was caught lifting from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock the Welshman's biographical treacle, adapting it for an American audience thus: "My ancestors, who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours." In Mr. Kinnock's version his Welsh ancestors "could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football." This was a dreadful humiliation for Senator Biden, made all the worse when it was revealed that he had faked his academic record and been accused of plagiarism in law school.

After being forced out of the 1988 race, the senator, one would have thought, would never again mention his "coal mining" heritage. Yet on September 21, while addressing an audience filled with coal miners in Virginia, he fibbed: "...I am a hard coal miner -- anthracite coal, Scranton, Pennsylvania. That's where I was born and raised." He was never a coal miner and most of his early life was spent in Delaware.

Amazing as it sounds, all the recent pratfalls were committed by the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in but one month. Nonetheless, as we enter October it is Governor Palin whom the media deem controversial.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.