Blame It on the Tango

The security forces of the entire continent of Europe are frantically scrambling to prevent an expected wave of Islamist terror attacks, the President of the United States is quite literally doing the tango in Argentina, and the Republican front-runner in the race to replace him is “tweeting” out threats to “spill the beans” on a pesky rival’s wife. That’s pretty much the news as write this, and thus we head into the weekend with an uncertain feeling about the future.
That worried-about wave of terror attacks in Europe seems well worth worrying about, and the president’s audition for his post-presidential role on “Dancing With the Stars” wasn’t at all reassuring, so that intra-Republican flap about the naked pictures of the front-runner’s third trophy wife and the unspecified threat against the pesky rival’s more plain but one-and-only wife also takes on a certain foreboding significance for us. The remaining candidates in the Democratic race to replace the tangoing current president seem equally blithe about the anticipated wave of Islamist terrorism, so we’d rather the front-running alternative wasn’t making such an ass of himself and forcing a pesky and more worthy rival to divert his attention to defending his wife’s honor against unspecified threats.
If you haven’t been following the latest episodes of the Republican Party’s version of “Dancing With the Stars,” the real-estate-and-gambling-and-titty-bar-and-reality-show mogul Donald J. Trump was much annoyed that one of the several anti-Trump political action committees had posted one of the more tame naked pictures his latest wife had posed for on a Facebook page geared to Utah, where the population is largely Mormon. Say what you want about some of their beliefs, Mormons were at least already disinclined to vote for foul-mouthed gambling-and-tatty-bar moguls no matter how hot their third wives might be, so Trump assumed that his pesky rival Sen. Ted Cruz was behind such soft-core pornographic dirty tricks, and without a shred of evidence he went to the internet to make the accusation and threw in a threat that he might reveal that unspecified information ruinous to the reputation of Cruz’s wife if unconditional surrender were not immediately announced. Cruz responded by “tweeting” that Trump was a coward, then going on international television to say that Trump was a “sniveling coward,” and we expect he’ll raise the ante face-to-face on the next televised debate stage, assuming that Trump isn’t such a sniveling coward or such a shrewd tactician he’ll avoid that confrontation.
Trump was courageous enough to issue another “tweet” with carefully chosen and perhaps photo-shopped pictures that indicate his third wife is hotter than then one Cruz has happily been married too along, which will surely prove to his celebrity-addled fans that he’s the alpha male to lead the country, and we’ll concede the Democrats are crazier yet, but it doesn’t make us feel more secure about that much-worried wave of terror attacks hitting Europe and then spreading to America.

— Bud Norman

The Veep Is a Creep

One of the questions those snide man-on-the-street interviewers always ask to demonstrate the public’s appalling political ignorance is the name of the Vice President of the United States. It’s the sort of general knowledge that any enfranchised citizen should possess, and we always wince when watching the videotapes of all those public school graduates who aren’t even embarrassed to admit their ignorance, but these days we can hardly blame anyone who does not share our obsessive interest in politics for not knowing the answer. Vice President Joe Biden — which is the correct answer to that trick question, in case you were wondering — is such an inconsequential public figure, and so assiduously ignored by the media, that he’s not a household name.
The man is an utter boob and a heartbeat away from the presidency, however, and sometimes even the most deliberately unseeing media are obliged to take notice. On Tuesday the vice president had to deal with such routine chores as reading some tele-promptered compliments at a swearing-in ceremony and saying some anodyne remarks during a White House summit on carefully unspecified forms of “violent extremism,” and on both occasions he managed to provoke unfriendly coverage from even the friendliest media.
The swearing-in ceremony for new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter should have been a deeply-buried brief in most newspapers, but the lowly scribes assigned to the affair wound up with some prominenst placement after Biden spent an uncomfortable amount of the proceedings rubbing the shoulders, whispering in the ear, and seemingly smelling the hair of the wife of the man being charged with the nation’s defense. No less an administration stenographer than the Associated Press found that “VP’s Odd Move Gives Pause,” the cheekier New York Post described it as “snuggling,” and the unabashedly conservative PJ Tatler was frank enough to call it “creepy.” The New York Post recalled that Biden elicited a similar discomfort among the object of his interest and all onlookers at the swearing-in for Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, whose young daughter is shown in a photograph in an apparent state of discomfort during the Vice President’s kiss on the cheek, and quotes one of innumerable “tweeters” using the term “creepy.
At the White House summit Biden provoked an even pricklier discomfort by attempting to endear himself to a largely Muslim and African crowd with some talk about how about how some of his best friends back in hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, are Somali. He told the crowd that “if you ever come to the train station you may notice that I have great relations with them, because an awful lot of them are driving cabs, and are friends of mine,” and even the Associated Press couldn’t help but admit that the audience “responded with muted, uncomfortable chuckles.” This obligated a recollection of Biden’s famous gaffe from his 2006 senatorial campaign about the Indian-American ownership of convenience stores and donut shops, although they were kind enough to neglect mention of his 2008 observations on rival presidential candidate being a “clean, articulate” African-American. or numerous other similar embarrassments.
The long history of Biden’s boobish behavior was too much for even such an impeccably liberal publications as Talking Points Memo, where a young writer from the sisterhood was allowed space to wonder “Why Does Creepy Uncle Joe Biden Get a Pass From Liberals?” The author admits she feels badly about giving succor to her conservative opponents who have long complained a media double-standard that protects Democrats from public scorn, and worries that she might be a “bad feminist,” but to her credit can no longer hide her dismay that Biden is not such a national laughingstock that even those man-on-the-street interviewees know his name. She notes some other little-noted instances of Biden’s creepiness toward women, rightly calls him out on his foul language to mark to the occasion of Obamacare being signed into law, although she probably thinks it diminished an otherwise august event, and generously concedes that a Republican guilty of the same offenses probably would have drawn more scorn.
We have no doubt that Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, and even a vice presidential contender such as Sarah Palin would all agree. Agnew did what Maryland politicians, usually Democrats, have always done, but was brought done mostly by the class resentments of those “nattering nabobs of negativism” that he railed against. Quayle once misspelled the word “potato,” and was scolded by an older man that he was no Jack Kennedy, and his reputation as a fool never recovered. Cheney was too obviously smart to be caricatured as dumb, so he was instead portrayed as the evil genius behind the dumb president. We’re still not sure how Palin’s reputation for saying stupid things came about, although Tina Fey did do a very convincing impersonation of her saying very stupid things. None of them were nearly so boobish as Biden, and even the Darth Vader-ish public image that the press managed to hang on Cheney is quite so creepy, and yet all would have been easy answer to those man-on-the-street interviewers.

— Bud Norman