Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Joe Biden was in Henderson on Friday night, and he gave what can only be described as The Full Biden.
The Delaware senator, Sen. Barack Obama’s vice-presidential nominee, comes out looking ebullient, flashing those white Chiclet teeth.
“Look folks,” he begins.
“We love you Joe!” someone yells.
“I love you too,” he says, cocking his head, again with the smile.
Someone, somewhere said over the summer that Biden was the best pick because he’s referred to in middle-class households all across the country as “mom’s boyfriend,” a guy older women really like.
Guessing why this is so is too complex, to say nothing of disturbing, for this space.
Anyway, he goes on, and here’s a random smattering of what he says:
“God love ya dear.”
“There’s an old joke, but it’s not much of joke, that I don’t go anywhere in my career without organized labor.” (An inside joke apparently?)
“Where I come from ...” He says this a lot, and by this he means literally — more on that word in a bit — either Scranton, Pa., or Claymont, Del., but what he really means is white and working class, with some ethnicity.
He’s describing his pal, who’s from the painters’ union. “We got two expressions, if you need a friend, this is your guy, and you wouldn’t fool around with this guy if you had a sledgehammer!”
Biden has a lot of “expressions.”
He’s describing something about the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain and his economic policies, and he says, “My mom had an expression growing up, and she always said, “Joey, if it walks like a duck ...” And then, of course, “Well baby, I think it’s a duck!”
Every hypothetical name Biden uses — as in “How are we gonna afford to send Johnny to school next semester?” — tends to end in the letter “y.”
“Let me tell ya something folks …”
“The country cannot take four more years of these policies. Literally. Literally.”
He says this, er, literally, a dozen times.
It’s a tic, an annoying fallback, but it’s one we can identify with because we all have a brother or a cousin who does this, and with slightly raised voice, after a couple too many gins.
Biden, who once called Obama “clean” and “articulate” and honestly thought he was complimenting the Illinois senator, talks about the Obama girls and how they’ve befriended his granddaughter. He mimics his granddaughter talking about Biden’s new boss: “Bawack,” she calls the presidential nominee.
Then there’s the Biden closer, describing his father giving “Joey” a pep talk. His father — surprise! — had an expression: “Get up! Get up!”
He’s goofy, there’s no getting around that. Not dumb, by any stretch, but goofy for sure, and always smiling at his good fortune. And that’s why it works. He’s like some guy you know, who somehow wound up in the Senate, but he knows that he could have just as easily had a career as a foreman.
(Obama, on the other hand, not so much.)
So when Biden delivers the hammer, when he says Republicans aren’t looking out for the middle class, the attack is delivered with a real sledgehammer.
(The mystery: Why Republicans have passed up what could be a devastating attack on Biden, that he’s in the pocket of the credit card companies that are based in his home state, most memorably on a bankruptcy bill passed in 2005.)
Sarah Palin, who will be here Tuesday, has garnered more attention, but all available polling is starting to bear this out: For all his tics and odd-duck, old-guy-senator weirdness, Biden is demonstrating that Obama is the candidate who may have really won the veepstakes.