Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wisdom of the age(s)

Two lessons emerged between last week and 28 years ago, when this cartoon was published.

1. Politicians never really fall from grace.

Joe Biden bowed out of presidential contention for the 1988 election after revelations that he plagiarized from a speech by Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labour Party at the time.

I know: Quaint, right? After the long sordid parade of political wrongdoing we've put up with since? That's what derailed Biden's political hopes?
(By the way, I ran this 'toon earlier in this blog, but the statute of limitations has run out, so it's OK to reuse.)
By the way, the joke in this 'toon is that I have Biden plagiarizing Richard Nixon's infamous line when he lost the 1962 race for California governor: "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." If you didn't get it, you're way too young.)
The point is, we did have Nixon to kick around, and we had Joe Biden.

Back when I was way too young, I meant this cartoon to be the nail in the coffin, my don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out goodbye to a marginal figure in the political panoply.

I could claim that I used Nixon's stolen line to mean that Biden would bounce back and continue his political career, rising ultimately to vice president, but that would be giving me way too much credit.

I'm not that smart, then or now.

Biden did bounce back. It was only last week that he finally bid farewell to his lifelong dream of becoming president. Biden bowed out of contention without having ever really stepped in.

Biden never went away, and will not go away, for good or bad. That is the way with politicians.

Even after politicians fall by election trouncing or personal transgression, someone will always make sure they land safely and comfortably, pick them up and put them in a place of prosperity and patronage. If the evil rival party has taken over and booted your butt, your butt will always be covered by some benefactor with a board on which to put you, with generous stipend and travel expenses and speaking fees. Or your party machine will keep you in office, if that's your desire.

I've seen it time and again with politicians, locally and nationally. No matter what they've done, they land somewhere safe, and benefit despite everything.

Be politicians, my children.

2. Occasionally it's good that politicians never fall from grace.

Joe Biden achieved elder statesmanhood, having served as a longtime Democratic Senator from Delaware. He amassed the foreign policy experience that made him viable as President Obama's running mate, which made them viable for two terms.

He became the wishful hope of those who wanted another option in the Democratic race, an actual flawed human, a well-intentioned gaffe generator, who hugs women in official ceremonies a bit too gladly, who bears the burden of having buried his first wife and toddler daughter long ago, killed in a car wreck, and having buried his eldest son Beau, who died of brain cancer.

Biden was the antidote to the say-every-stupid-thing-that-comes-to-mind Republican front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

But now we really won't have Biden to kick around anymore.

I wouldn't worry about him, though.

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