Vice President Joe Biden outdid himself by committing a string of four gaffes in the span of two days last week. Uncle Joe is known for his miscues and malapropisms, but such a highly-concentrated dose of mistakes is extraordinary, even for him:
First he uttered the word "shylock." Then he referred to the Far East as that mystical land known as "the Orient." And now he has praised a Republican senator who resigned in disgrace over charges of sexual harassment — in a speech that was meant to shore up the Democratic Party's bona fides on women's issues. In his remarks to the DNC's Women's Leadership Forum, Biden gave a shout-out to Bob Packwood, a former Republican senator from Oregon, as an example of a more moderate kind of Republican politician. The problem is that Packwood was forced to step down in 1995 after he was accused of harassment by 10 different women.
Then came this misfire in Iowa, wherein the Vice President ladled another helping of incoherence onto the administration's Iraq incoherence:
After leaving a rally in Des Moines, Biden unexpectedly made news at a diner when he seemingly opened the door to committing ground troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, an option the Obama administration has diligently batted down as it has moved to expand air strikes in the region -- and that President Obama himself rejected anew in remarks at MacDill Air Force Base Wednesday. "The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission," he said. A reporter asked Biden whether he agreed with the comments of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who on Tuesday left the door open to the possibility of boots on the ground. "He said that if in fact he concluded that was needed he would request it from the president. His conclusion is that it is not needed now," Biden responded...But might it be needed? "We’ll determine that based on how the effort goes," said Biden.
Oops. That casual suggestion undermined President Obama's numerous attempts to slam the door shut to combat troops -- a distinction that seems increasingly technical in nature. Obama reportedly overruled the military's best advice for an anti-ISIS mission, intent on assuring the American people that he was not reigniting a full ground war in Iraq. But because comprehensively ruling out potential options in our arsenal sends problematic signals to the enemy, some high-ranking officials have been unable to resist hedging, before being directed to walk back their remarks. The administration effectively ignored the rise of ISIS until their reign of terror started making unavoidable headlines. The president has disclaimed responsibility for the mess he's presided over. For years, Iraq was regarded as little more than a political talking point, with Obama delegating 'day to day' US policy in the country to, um, Joe Biden. Of the quartet of 'gaffes' committed by the Vice President, his Iraq flub is by far the most serious, as it underscores how lost and muddled Team Obama is on a major foreign policy front. But as I argued on Fox and Friends, the remaining trio of face-palms are pretty inconsequential (video via Steven Laboe's Right Sightings):
Tucker Carlson is absolutely right. Intent and context should be the biggest factors in these circumstances. While I'm no fan of his, I don't believe Biden was accidentally revealing latent anti-Semitism by using "shylock," or deliberately insulting Asians with "the orient," or applauding Packwood's misogyny in that speech. What he was doing was classic Biden: Speaking without a filter, which more than occasionally results in inanity, insensitivity and inaccuracy. Is it sometimes concerning that such an aloof, undisciplined and impulsive person is "one heartbeat away" from the presidency, to employ a term invoked repeatedly about Sarah Palin? Yes. Should we gin up a bunch of phony outrage to suggest Biden's a bigot while indignantly demanding apologies? No. Perpetual 'gotcha' outrage and the imputing of malicious motives is poisoning our politics. The Left traffics in this sludge, of course, and people like Joe Biden shamelessly and shamefully play the race and gender cards at the drop of a hat, so perhaps responding in kind is reasonable comeuppance. Live by the smear, die by the smear, etc (although Democrats rarely pay as high a price for their terrible comments than Republicans). I get it: His tone deaf praise for Packwood at an event specifically designed to demagogue Republicans on "women's issues" is probably too juicy an irony for the GOP to pass up. But the arms race of outrage is a pernicious, counter-productive force and should be resisted whenever possible.