Jonah Goldberg

The constitutional law professor mocked Dick Cheney because the vice president “doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president. That’s the executive branch.” Wrong. Article I defines the Legislature, Article II the executive branch. Both define the role of the VP.

He flatly said that McCain voted with Obama on a tax hike. He didn’t. He said McCain’s health-care plan amounted to a tax hike. It doesn’t. Biden said we “must” drill for oil, but that ain’t how he’s voted. He said he’s for clean coal, but just this month he passionately told a voter, “We’re not supporting clean coal,” and vowed “no coal plants here in America.” The scrapper from Scranton boasted about bonding with the common folks at a restaurant that’s been closed for two decades.

Palin had her own problems. She failed to answer direct questions directly. She offered up some obviously canned one-liners.

But here’s the difference. Palin is supposed to be everything Biden isn’t, according to liberal pundits and mainstream reporters alike. For weeks they’ve been saying she’s ill-prepared, uninformed and lacks the requisite experience. But that criticism is also an excuse of sorts.

Biden has no excuse. He’s been in the majors for nearly 40 years, and yet he sounds like a bizarro-world Chauncey Gardiner. The famous simpleton from Jerzy Kosinski’s “Being There” (played by Peter Sellers in the film) offered terse aphorisms that were utterly devoid of specific content but nonetheless seemed to describe reality accurately. Biden is the reverse: He offers a logorrheic farrago of “specifics” that have no connection to our corner of the space-time continuum.

In short, he just makes stuff up. But he does it with passionate, self-important intensity. He’s like a politician in a movie with a perfect grasp of a world that doesn’t exist. He’s not an expert, he just plays one on TV.

No one seems to care. Biden convinced the focus groups he’s an expert. The media, with a few exceptions, let it all slide. But imagine if Palin had made any of these gaffes. It would be incontrovertible proof that her critics are right.

Palin “lost” because she’s bad at being a dishonest politician. Biden won because he is, after all, a “master senator.”


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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