The dust up over the past few days sent me back to the outtakes from "Inside The Bubble", about the 2004 election, to see if my memory served me correctly.
Standing among a scrum of reporters, Biden has a telling interaction with ABC's Dan Harris about listening to your own voice and not being micromanaged by the consultants.
Harris: "Forgive me for asking this because I know you're trying to stay on message... Watching this campaign it seems like there's a shift as to what the strategy is"
Biden: "Look, who gives a shit. Where you think - or anybody thinks - there going to stick to a message. What is important is what is coming out of his mouth. The story is what is coming out of his mouth."
Well, that certainly was true of Biden in the past 48 hours.
Biden: "... not whether Joe Lockhart got trumped by me or anyone else to change the message. That ain't the story."
Here's the exchange:
Here's the thing. At the end of the exchange, Biden says: "Well, what do I know - I didn't get out of Iowa." At the time, his tone and the raw, unvarnished nature of his comments were a breath of fresh air. You can see the reporters gulping down his words - just enjoying hearing a human being speak without a prompter or a press aid tugging at their sleeve. I confess, I was one of them. I remember saying to folks in the edit room - " boy it would be great for him to run." But now he's running, and it doesn't seem so great any more. In fact his shoot from the hip style seems to have already morphed into a 'shoot your mouth off' style. Heck, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that Barack Obama and his place the the spectrum of African American candidates is probably not a great place to start your campaign.
Back in 2004 - during this particular Biden rant, he says: "Look, what you do when you haven't run before is you think that the guys that are managing you are smarter than you in terms of - not the substance - but the "this it the way that the the press will respond". Who gives a God Damn how you'll respond (speaking to reporters). /reporters laugh/ . I don't give a God Damn how you respond - as long as you print what i said." Yikes. Seems like they took him up on that one.
So the question is, does the Biden thing mean that we don't have room for politicians who can speak straight, speak their mind, and not always be politically correct? After watching these clips again - i don't think so. On the contrary - I think that he comes off as a man who speaks before he thinks. After all - God Damn is probably not an 'on the record comment for anyone in politics. Note in the clip everyone scribbling notes in reporters note books, this was not off-the-record moment captured on tape.
2008 is right around the corner, and as hungry as the public is for a politician that can speak in sentences in stead of sound bites - there's too much at stake for this kind of off-the-cuff campaigning. Sorry Joe, not this time.