Politics: An energized Biden manages to outshine Barack Obama's retreads

Published by: Robert Laurie on Friday September 7th, 2012

Robert Laurie

By ROBERT LAURIE – On the final night of the DNC, Biden manages to outshine the Prez.

If there’s one thing no one expected from Thursday night’s speeches, it’s the improbable occasion of Joe Biden managing to outshine his boss.  Biden’s rep is well established as a bumbler – a fumbling speaker more likely to cause a political implosion than a win.  Yet, as Obama began to wind down his speech, one thing was clear.  Joe Biden gave a more passionate, nuanced, defense of the President’s first term than did Barack Obama himself.

“Today,” Biden said, “I say to my fellow citizens: In the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetime, this generation of Americans has proven itself as worthy as any generation before us. For we present that same grit, that same determination, that same courage that has always defined what it means to be an American, has always defined all of you. Together we're on a mission. We're on a mission to move this nation forward from doubt and downturn to promise and prosperity, a mission I guarantee you we will complete - a mission we will complete.”

Biden’s speech was a battle cry that harkened back to all that was good- and great - in the American soul.  Joe Biden managed, in a few short minutes, to accomplish something Barack Obama has never managed to do: Make me feel that he genuinely believes in the greatness of this country. Not just in its power, or its durability, but in the depth of its spirit.

Now, as my colleague Dan Calabrese has pointed out, it was rife with falsehoods, inaccuracies, and wrong-headedness.  I’m not, for a second, suggesting that Biden was on solid footing in any sort of factual sense.

  • The President didn’t make a tough decision in killing Bin Laden, he made the only decision.
  • He hasn’t “saved” GM, in any realistic sense of the word.
  • The debt is not something to downplay, nor is Obama’s complicity in its expansion

Perhaps the most ridiculous moment of his address was the claim that “Governor Romney believes in this global economy” as if the global economy is some figment of Mitt’s imagination.  Mr. Biden may not know it, but the global economy exists, and America is failing to compete.

That said, there is no denying it was a barn-burner of an address.  Moreover, it was exactly the kind of speech a VP needs to deliver.  Despite the weird references to the President by his first name (as if Joe is desperate to let you to know just how close he and Barry really are) Biden managed to mount what was possible the most effective personal defense of Obama we’ve ever seen.

If I hadn’t witnessed the last three and a half years – if I didn’t already know that Obama has failed in both policy and leaderhip – I’d have be forced to consider Biden’s vision.

Then, the man with the “spine of steel” appeared, and managed to undercut the whole thing.

Obama’s speech boiled to one passage.  “America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder—but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together.’’

In other words, I haven’t accomplished what I promised.  In fact, I’ve made the path forward longer and more difficult.  I’m sorry, but please, give me more time.

There was nothing in the way of a roadmap foreward, a deficiency for which Democrats attacked Mitt Romney mercilessly.  But, vague though his speech may have been, at least Romney offered a five point plan.  Obama offered only more of the same.  More programs, more nonexistent green jobs, more loans, more Obamacare, and more Mediscare.

More of what Obama himself admits hasn’t worked for the last three years: more government.

Please don’t misunderstand.  Neither of these men offered any kind of realistic vision for the future of America.  They only present us with a path leading to imminent, ongoing, decline. In terms of convention speeches, however, Biden came out fighting, offering the kind of optimism most Americans used to associate with Obama.

In stark contrast, Obama offered a speech that could easily have been given four years ago. It was little more than a tedious laundry list of uninspiring retreads.

We’ve heard all of these platitudes before. Tonight, Barack Obama offered you no reason to try them again.