Put that grin away, Joe Biden. Thing's loaded.
Last night at the vice presidential debate, Biden, ebullient and smirking, did everything Democrats wanted him to do. He was a jerk. He was aggressive. And he wouldn't let Paul Ryan get away with anything. Also, he said the peculiar word "marlarky" a lot. This rare genus of American nomenclature springs from the 1920s, we believe, and was the parlance of flappers and bootleggers. Today -- an era Biden has apparently little familiarity with -- "malarky" can be translated to mean "wack." Or, possibly, "that's some wack-ass-shit."
"We Irish call it malarky," Biden said, characterizing Ryan's budget proposals. It was as though Biden was some crazy old man calling things hogwash and hooey in a spat of impotent rage. Wait: That's exactly what it was.
But there's a deeper, semiotic meaning behind all the malarky. A profound generation gap stretches between Paul Ryan, 42, and Joe Biden, 69. Biden, employing angry old-man tomfoolery, tried to exploit their difference in age and experiences to cast Ryan as immature.
Silly Biden. You don't need to help Ryan with that. He does just fine on his own.
We said yesterday that Biden's all emotion, which was confirmed last night. He did successfully channel a great Democratic furor that, until that point, had been the domain of Chris Matthews rants and libs clacking away on Macs uploading irrelevant meme after meme blaming everyone but themselves. It's not the policies; it's Obama. It's not Obama; it's Jim Leher. It's not Jim Leher; it's that big meany Willard Romney.
Biden wasn't going to get played like that. He was going to bring some of that old-school Lyndon Johnson umbrage, and he did -- finally! -- bring up Willard's 47 percent remark. But did he go too far? Did he snidely call Ryan "his friend" one too many times?
He did. Biden burns too hot. This isn't the 1970s. Ours is an era in which passive aggression reigns, in which true anger manifests itself through a confederacy of hashtags and ironic blogs. Biden comes from a different political time, when titans clashed in grand displays of bravado. So last night, we were taken aback by Biden. We thought, Joe, cool it. Your bloviations make our head hurt. Play it like The Dude would.
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So is there some middle ground to be found between Obama's sleepiness, and Biden's full-bellied harrumphs?
Yes, there is. His name is Bill Clinton. Please, let's use him more.