Oh-oh…Ethics Quote Of The Week: Joe Biden

“My name’s Joe Biden, I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States senate—if you like what you see, help out, if not, vote for the other Biden”

Democratic candidate and gaffe grandmaster Joe Biden, speaking today, before tonight’s South Carolina debate,  to a South Carolina campaign crowd.

It isn’t that Biden’s statement has anything to do with ethics, whatever he was saying.  It’s that his bizarre pronouncement raises an immediate ethics issue. If we were playing “Ethics Password,” the announcer would say in hushed tones, “The password is fairness.” What is fair to Biden here, and how can I get past my biases to decide? I have believed for more than a decade that Biden is an idiot-savant with surprising political skills; I don’t believe you can say ridiculous and nonsensical things as often as he has for so long and not be inherently untrustworthy and more than a little addled. I also have found his demeanor, appearance and increasing tendency to speak in  gibberish of late evidence of precipitously declining faculties from a height that was never all that impressive to begin with.

And yet I am in favor of  giving any politician, disk jockey or improv comic the benefit of the doubt, because I know the perils of speaking extemporaneously from first-hand experience. Thus the question is, how eager should we be to shrug off this latest jaw-dropper from Biden as the natural and forgivable result of flying around the country and its inevitable “If this is Tuesday, it must be Saginaw” confusion? Is it just a particularly egregious example of wacky old Joe being wacky old Joe, and thus an occurrence where the Julie Principle is in play, or, in the worst case, is this latest head-scratcher so close to the former VP showing up nude with a duck on his head that an intervention is called for?

Help me out here.


16 thoughts on “Oh-oh…Ethics Quote Of The Week: Joe Biden

  1. Any politician, particularly one in the midst of the hurly-burly that is the primaries, is going to have several flubs and slips like this. Holding a few inconsequential errors like this against anyone is unfair, as you say. The only time it should become a concern is when the slips have a history of appearing in less stressful times, as well…

    Ok, so that’s still Biden. For years, he has been famous for slips of the tongue, absentminded gaffes, and awkward gaps in his recollection. The only question is, is it getting worse with age? It certainly seems like it, although it may simply be that spending so much time in the spotlight is making it harder to him to fade back abashedly afterward. It may be that he’s always been this bad, and isn’t getting any worse.

    That being said, he’s not getting any better, either. If he’s always been this bad, or he’s getting worse and worse, the fact remains that he’s pretty darn bad right now, and has no history or clear trends of improving. Julie principal may apply here, but – in contrast – Trump’s clear tendency to lie and exaggerate in ways that drive his opponents mad doesn’t actually affect how well he governs and leads. To be honest, by the time the election comes along, I’m not entirely convinced Biden would be able to comprehend the fact that he had won or lost. At some point in the near future, they may be able to set up a faux oval office somewhere, tell him he won, and he could spend the rest of his days happily being “president” – even when someone else gets the Democratic nomination. Dementia is a bitch, and you don’t really get better from it.

  2. Joe Biden has been like this for awhile, I think he is just getting more coverage. You do have to wonder why people like Biden don’t have anyone who will step in and say ‘Enough’. I can’t believe that he is capable of doing his job. I suspect he is being propped up by others for the benefit of others. A long time ago, someone needed to tell Biden that he couldn’t hold elected office because he wasn’t fit. I think John McCain in his last months was the same way. It is really awful that their families can’t see that this behavior destroys a lifetime’s reputation. All that either of them will be remembered for is this erratic behavior.

  3. I watched the video, here’s the whole quote…

    “My name’s Joe Biden, I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States senate, look me over, if you like what you see, help out, if not, vote for the other Biden, give me a look though, okay. That’s really all I really gotta say to ya.”

    I’ve seen this kind of speaker gaff over and over again over the years; it’s my opinion that as soon as Biden spoke the word “senate” he knew he had gaffed again and then he kinds blubbered a bit after that because his mouth was on autopilot and his mind wasn’t able to catch up, get ahead of the mouth and recover with some kind of laughing at one’s self joke to cover.

    I think this one falls into the Julie Principle.

    • That said….

      Biden has shown a lot of these kind of things over the last few years and it does raise a concern that because of his age his mental capacity “could” be beginning to be diminish slightly, I don;t know if this is true in his case but it is a concern because it usually start to deteriorate a lot faster when it gets bad enough that it’s hard to cover up any longer.

      Personally I think Biden is holding on to his political changes for dear life hoping for a brokered convention where a moderate like him could possibly get the nomination.

      • The kind of deterioration we’re talking about is also accelerated by stress, and I can think of few things more stressful than running for president. When this is all over, I suspect he’s going to be in much worse shape, cognitively, than he was when he started. And he didn’t start in great shape to begin with.

        At what point do those who are propping him up and encouraging this become guilty of elder abuse?

  4. In that same talk in support of Democratic challenger to Lindsey Graham, Jaime Harrison, he also said

    “Jaime, I’ll come campaign for you or against you, whichever will help you the most,”

    He has claimed three times this week that he was “arrested with our UN ambassador” in South Africa in the 1970s protesting Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment. The ambassador told the New York Times that it’s not true, and no one else seems to remember such a thing happening. It appears to be just another of his attempts at trying to create a history of “being in the room”…maybe if only in his imagination.

    If Biden’s campaign isn’t yet toast, his brain certainly is.

    • “Jaime, I’ll come campaign for you or against you, whichever will help you the most,”

      This is actually kind of funny and suggests he knows what’s going on. Just a cynical little jab at campaigning.

      And, yeah, the Senate line may have just popped out because he has been saying it for almost 50 years. But, if he is losing it, it would be better to get out now.


  5. This particular quote may or may not be indicative of a slipping mind. I speak constantly as part of my work and am not immune to the various trips and slips one’s mouth can contort words into. I am sympathetic to a degree with Biden. I am inclined to believe that, in this instance, he accidentally fell back into the familiar word Senate.

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you, though. By the same token, just because Biden made an understandable verbal gaffe this time doesn’t mean he’s not losing his mind.

  6. I have, I think, said this before, more than once, and I speak from experience. Old age causes our mental abilities to slip…memory, reasoning ability, and other faculties. The catch is that as we grow older, we sometimes lose our ability to recognize these loses of cognitive abilities; thus, we sometimes start or continue doing things we have no real business doing…like maintaining a Senate seat or running for President. What becomes problematic is that those around us, especially those who love us are sometimes reluctant to point this out to us, for fear of hurting our feelings. I suspect that this is what is happening here. No one in his family is willing to say “Joe, you can’t do this job. You need to drop out now.” Certainly, no one on his staff or among his supporters is willing to do so, although their motivation for not doing so may be different. It is going to become incumbent on the DNC leadership to perform this task, provided they can summon the ethical will to do so.

    • d_d, what is it with Baby Boomers and their refusal to grow old. Why aren’t people like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi content to just go fishin’? What the hell are these people thinking? Being a late Baby Boomer myself, it’s embarrassing. Don’t these people have any interest in pursuing a hobby? Reading a good book? Getting to know their grand children?

  7. According to SloJoe in the debate tonight, half the county (150 million) has been killed by firearms since Bernie gave gun manufacturers “absolute immunity” in 2007. I guess nobody noticed…maybe illegal immigrants replaced them all.

    He also, apparently, was responsible for most of the laws passed in the last 30 years…Well, except for the “absolute immunity” thing, I guess.

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