Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Joe Biden Channels Archie Bunker

Victor Davis Hanson, in an article titled "The Incredible Lightness of Being," sums up the Democrat VP nominee's persona:
"Biden may be arrogant and vain, but he has an odd charm as everyman's nightmare, when we root for him not to say something embarassing, know that when his eyes start spinning he willl and can't stop--and know that we will end up either not taking it too seriously or feeling bad for him that he did."
While the tension and anger dividing liberals and conservaties is palpable, Senator Plugs doesn't generate the negative energy from the right that the San Fran Grand Nan, John Francois Kerry, or the Baby Daddy from North Caroliina does. Biden is oddly likeable despite his inept job managing the Senate Judiciary Committee, his uncharitability, and his UberGore blathering on leftist talking points.After reading Hanson's analysis the reason for Biden's begrudged acceptability becomes clear: Biden is the 21st century embodiment of Archie Bunker. Carroll O'Connor's masterful and long-running role as the bigoted patriarch of a lower middle class family from Queens dominated the television airwaves from 1971-1983. Biden is a member of the same, salt-of-the-earth generation as Archie, described by Tom Brokaw as The Greatest Generation. Men and women of this era grew up in a simpler and more difficult time. Their foibles seem more easily pardonnable to us due to the sacrifices they made, ultimately for our generation and those to follow. Although Biden tries to toe the policitally correct Democrat party line, he, like Archie Bunker, was raised and educated before multiculturalism and white guilt slipped into the American cultural landscape. Also like Bunker, Biden is too simple and straight-forward to don the politically correct mask required by his party in public. So borderline racist and sexist comments, even about his running mate or Sarah Palin merely elicit a sighing shrug from the American populace. Just like Archie, we understand that Joe is just being Joe, and that he will never really amount to anything that might cause us any harm. Nobody really takes Biden seriously. We never felt any genuine malice from Archie Bunker and we treated him as a harmless anachronism, a product of the environment in which he was raised.
This was never Bunker producer Norman Lear's intent. Lear hated what Archie Bunker represented and he was shocked by the genuine public affection for him. Likewise, one would expect Joe Biden to revulse conservatives and independents. Many of us have had fathers, uncles or grandfathers like Archie and Joe. Not in the 'crazy uncle in the attic" variety, as Senator Obama tried to pass off the genuinely malicious, hate-filled diatribes of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright upon us. But rather, misguided, simple men whose often comical, reactionary responses didn't jibe with the warm hearts beneath their clumsy crustiness. Not surprisingly, Archie Bunker is usually rated the No. 1 television character of all time in surveys, a testament to our ability to see past the surface.
So what does the nomination of Joe "Archie Bunker" Biden say about the Obama campaign and what affect will Biden have upon the election? At the height of Archie's popularity in the 70's, there was a groundswell of political activity surrounding the character. Archie actually came out in support of "Richard E. Nixon" and threatened his son-in-law, Meathead, with the ascension of Ronald Reagan. There was even an "Archie Bunker for President" movement. Bunker fans comprised a significant section of the Silent Majority courted by Nixon. This same demographic in 2008, described by Obama as bitter clingers, seems unlikely to fall for the Democrat Bunker doppellganger. Rather than a calculated move by the Obama campaign to attract the Bunker vote, the selection of Biden seems to be rather one of weakness, meant to shore up Obama's flimsy foreign policy experience. Senator Joe's potential appeal to the working class is merely a serendipitous and unintended consequence.
The Democrats are clearly confident that they have the Meathead vote sewn up, but the chances of slicing into the Bunker demographic remains highly unlikely. So while Biden's persona may be marginally acceptable to blue collar workers, Catholics and independents, his party's support for abortion, gay-rights and surrender will nix any real connection with the God and Guns voters. Unless a desperate Obama campaign decides to pull an Eagleton and dump Uncle Senator Joe from the ticket, we can enjoy the continued slapstick certain to exude from Biden's Bunkerism.

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