Posted by: SWL | August 19, 2012

Biden Should Apologize For “Back in Chains” Remark

The Sunday news talk shows are still discussing Vice-President Joe Biden’s comment to a largely African-American audience that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains.” Most of Biden’s defenders say he meant to say “shackles” since it was a take-off on Republicans’ intention to “unshackle” Wall Street. Would it have been any better to say “put y’all back in shackles“?

I might buy the argument that it was just Biden’s impulsive nature except for one thing: he paused for a long time before throwing out the chains remark. At my most gracious, I would say that during that pause Biden thought it would be humorous, not considering the implications.

Often while campaigning Biden shouts and looks absolutely angry. He has made a number of gaffes, from this most recent remark to more humorous mistakes like not knowing which state he is in. Whether impulsive or poor judgment, this brings up concerns. What if Biden became President?

During the 2008 campaign there were many comparisons regarding Biden’s preparedness to be President if necessary compared to Sarah Palin. In between attacks on Medicare and Obamacare this week, there were a few comments that GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan does not have as much foreign policy experience as Biden. But given that Biden is impulsive and easily angered, I can envision him insulting the leader of another country or even getting us into war. On a tour of Europe, he might insult all of France because he thinks he’s in Switzerland and mentions it at a press conference. Worse, if a country with which we have strained relations makes a hostile move or remark, would Biden get angry and retaliate impulsively?

I would rather have a VP – and potential President – who is analytical rather than one who is impulsive. I believe discretion is more important than experience in any particular area.

Back to the chains remark – Biden should apologize. When my daughters were growing up, I would tell them that if anyone was offended by something they said or did, they needed to apologize, regardless of whether or not they had intended to insult the person. After my spouse and I strongly disagree on an issue, I may say, “I have not changed my views on ________, but I am sorry we argued.” It’s about restoring a relationship that’s been strained.

Joe Biden doesn’t need to give a long description of why he chose to make his chains remark. But he should say he did not intend to offend anyone and is sorry if he inadvertently did. Some people would not be satisfied by any type of apology, but for most Americans a simple apology would make Biden look thoughtful and compassionate, and probably put an end to the whole matter. I am not sure why the Obama-Biden campaign keeps defending the remark instead of just letting it go. Can‘t they admit a mistake, even on a small matter?

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