The Barroom Boor

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I listened to part of the debate in the car on the way home last night. I didn’t get to see Joe Biden’s “politician’s smile” — lots of teeth, contemptuous eyes — but I’m sure the familiar, contrived visage was there. Joe Biden isn’t going to change unless you hire a stump grinder.

Have you ever watched Hillary Clinton “smile”? She learned it from Joe.

For my sins, I had to work “with” Joe on a couple of senate committees back in the ’80s. He always had to be the center of attention (Chuck “The Schume” wasn’t around yet), and attention never served Joe well — yet he still craves it. The most honest thing I ever heard him say was that he was too dumb to be a federal judge — but he was pleased to serve on, and then chair, the Judiciary Committee that approved judges (or not) for years. Was it a stupid thing to say? Sure — but what else would you expect from Joe?

The most common reaction to Joe, on both sides of the aisle, came in a simple phrase: “Joe, SHUT UP!” He was a senator for life from tiny Delaware, where (I was warned early on), “two thirds of the voters say they know Joe Biden personally.” The loss, long ago, of his wife and son in a tragic car accident (which, of course, good old predictable Joe brought up while I was waiting for a red light) contributed to that very human feeling, I’m sure. But Joe interpreted it as authority to have contempt for anyone who did not revere him, and to show it in a manner carefully designed constantly to irritate, while avoiding discussions of substance.

Joe never heard of Hegel, but he’s a Hegelian, and his contemptuous demeanor is shared by some other Hegelians we know — the neocons, his fellow leftists. Some have better manners than Joe, and veil their contempt ever so thinly; but, like Joe, they are practiced liars, each in his own cultivated way.

I vividly recall George W. Bush emerging from a “members only” briefing early in the days of his invasion of Iraq. Republicans had their teeth clenched, they were so mad. “He treated us like children,” one said. “It was drivel. Doesn’t he know he “needs” us?”

Look at Romney’s foreign policy “team”: it’s a Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld losers reunion. They have no quarrel with Joe, other than who gets to edit the kill list and pull the trigger.

Joe might be surprised to discover (Cue Joe — flash contemptuous smile. Slap forehead. Say “Wow!”) that there exists a Biden wing of the GOP — call it the neocon faction (perhaps we should call it a “shard”).  Their smarmy, unctuous, and self-enriching contempt for their inferiors is all Joe. Lovers of liberty bore them; lovers of power intrigue them. Joe is their competition. “We” are the enemy.

Joe, in his plebeian way, loves power, but loves sloth as well. He was intellectually lazy last night, and it showed. Joe was so lazy when Obama offered him the position of Secretary of State that he declined, because it entailed too much work. Much better the bucket of warm spit, which he no doubt drooled all over the stage last night.

Kid Kristol once bragged that, under his tutelage, Obama had become a “born-again neocon.” Why not Joe? Probably because he was too lazy to go into the water.

8:17 am on October 12, 2012