The Best Biden He Can Be

Posted January 31, 2007 at 6:55pm

By now, savvy readers may already know all about Sen. Joseph Biden’s (D-Del.) blunt comments about his fellow White House hopefuls in Wednesday’s New York Observer.

First there was his take on ex-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who apparently doesn’t know “what the heck he’s talking about.” There was his view that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) Iraq plan would be “nothing but disaster.”[IMGCAP(1)]

And of course, there was Biden’s comment that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was great because he’s “a mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean.”

In the pantheon of backhanded, fraught-with-baggage compliments, Biden’s statement on Obama would seem to deserve a special place.

Of course, Biden doesn’t think so. In a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, he explained that he used “clean” to mean “fresh and new,” so there were no racial connotations. And Obama later bailed his colleague out somewhat by saying he “didn’t take Sen. Biden’s comments personally.”

HOH still has an unanswered question about why Biden felt the need to say Obama was “articulate.” Would he have ever called a white candidate “articulate,” or, for that matter, “mainstream”?

As a public service, HOH thinks it would be a good idea to remind his readers of Biden’s previous completely innocent, wildly misunderstood comments. Like the time in 2006 when he said, “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Or the time Biden pointed out Delaware was a “slave state that fought beside the North. That’s only because we couldn’t figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way.”

Or the time he plagiarized parts of a speech from British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock … okay, that one was like 20 years ago.

Anyway, HOH was heartened to read in another Biden interview Wednesday, this one in the Philadelphia Inquirer, that the Senator had learned a valuable lesson from that ill-fated 1988 presidential campaign: “That words matter. That you can’t take things lightly.”

Exactly.

Mmm, Cooking Grease. Of late, HOH has heard quite often that blogs are transforming everything about the way we live today, from how we read and write to how we eat, drink and sleep. HOH actually shaved this morning using a blog. Which was especially painful when he realized it’s short for “Web log.”

There also is a rumor that blogs are changing politics as we know it, and that Members of Congress are clamoring to get attention from them. So Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) is understandably proud to have been noticed by one particularly important blog.

Which blog was it? Was it the kind that hates Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.)? Was it one of the those that are like HOH, except they use dirty language?

No, much better: It was the BA Blog, written, of course, by the editors of Bon Appétit magazine.

Under the heading, “CONGRESS GETS COOKING,” the blog noted approvingly that Cleaver cruises around his Kansas City district in a bus that runs on “used cooking grease.” Yummy.

Cleaver — who has pushed for House Members’ office allowances to be spent only on vehicles that run on alternative fuels — has gotten some press in his district before for his unusually powered vehicle, and the folks at Bon Appétit praised the idea, saying: “So as long as his constituents don’t mind signing up for Medicaid with a faint smell of French fries emanating from the exhaust pipe, it was worth it.”

Actually, the bus doesn’t smell of French fries so much as barbecue, according to Cleaver spokesman Danny Rotert.

“Being from Kansas City, anything that was touched by barbecue seems to work really well for us,” Rotert said. “If it’s from a barbecue joint, we’ll put it in the mobile unit.”

And, Rotert said, “As a longtime reader of Bon Appétit and eater of food it was a great honor [for Cleaver] to see the blog report.”

Welcome to the Information Superhighway. (Do people still say that?)

Mr. Romance. With so much on his mind, it’s understandable that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) might not be thinking yet about making special plans with his lovely wife on Valentine’s Day.

Whenever that is.

At a stakeout Tuesday, Reid was discussing the finer points of the continuing resolution and emphasizing that time was of the essence.

“We have to finish this by two days after Valentine’s Day — is that, Feb. 12th, is that Valentine’s Day?” Reid asked.

A helpful aide chimed in, “14th, sir.”

Does that mean Reid has forgotten the big day? What does Mrs. Reid think of this?

Fear not. According to Reid spokesman Jim Manley, “With Sen. Reid and his wife, every day is Valentine’s Day.”

Franken’s Sense. HOH has always believed that the Senate does not have enough radio hosts or former Saturday Night Live writers. Thankfully, multiple news reports late Wednesday indicated that liberal icon Al Franken (D) was planning to announce that he would challenge Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in 2008.

A Franken spokesman declined to comment. HOH guesses that Franken will be commenting plenty over the next two years.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.