Rich Galen

Joe Biden is a US Senator from Delaware. He has never been anything BUT a US Senator from Delaware. He is, according to his official bio, "currently serving his 6th term."

Joe Biden was elected when he was not yet 30 (although he had turned 30 by the time the Senate convened in 1973). He will be 65 this November. He is not new at this.

That is why his statement, the other day, about Barak Obama was so astonishing. If you were absent from the Earth this week, Biden said, in an interview of Obama's run for the Presidency:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Someone, in effect, Joe Biden would be happy to have dinner with. Not at the country club, of course, but certainly in a public restaurant. In Washington, DC. Where there are plenty of clean African-Americans.

Even assuming Biden meant "clean" as in "clean slate" that still doesn't say much for his cultural sensitivity. But it says volumes about the way he thinks of two other pretty well-known African-American former candidates for President: Jesse Jackson (1984 and 1988) and Al Sharpton (2004).

We can't determine whether or not Biden thinks either Jackson or Sharpton is "mainstream," but Biden would probably check the "articulate" box if only because they each calls himself "Reverend."

Biden would have to concede that both Jackson and Sharpton are "bright," assuming he is using that in the intellectual, not the Jeffersonian, sense.

And Jackson, in his day, was a "nice-looking guy" although I've never thought Sharpton was terribly attractive.

So, when Biden said that Obama was the first African-American with ALL of those attributes, the only adjective which fits Obama, and Obama alone, is … clean.

Joe Biden thinks Obama is the first "clean" African-American to run for President.

This has not gone unnoticed in the popular press. So much so that Biden felt it necessary to go on television that night to explain himself. On Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

The Daily show gets about 1.5 million viewers per night.

The O'Reilly Factor on Fox gets about 2.1 million per night.

The third rated national newscast (and it's a distant third) - the CBS Evening News - gets over six million viewers per night.

So, if Biden really cared about patching up this cultural gaffe he would have asked for time on CBS or ABC or NBC.

Comedy Central? Who's his strategist, Soupy Sales?

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at