Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

We need more Joe Bidens

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 12:47 PM EDT, Sat October 13, 2012
Joe Biden's expressions were a highlight of his debate with Paul Ryan on Thursday, says Dean Obeidallah.
Joe Biden's expressions were a highlight of his debate with Paul Ryan on Thursday, says Dean Obeidallah.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Joe Biden displayed full range of emotions, expressions in debate
  • He says Biden is one of the few authentic personalities in our political world
  • Obeidallah: We should encourage candidates to show us who they really are

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- In a world of politicians who memorize sound bites and regurgitate them like robots, Joe Biden is different. Biden says it as he sees it. And, yes, that philosophy can lead to a few gaffes. OK, in Biden's case, a lot of gaffes. But that's the risk with being real.

Maybe Joe Biden isn't always "presidential" as that word has come to be defined, but isn't it about time we revised the definition of that word? Sadly, it has come to mean a staid, reserved person who shows almost no emotion -- almost like Spock from "Star Trek." But presidents and vice presidents are still human beings and should be allowed and encouraged to act like it.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Look at Biden at Thursday night's vice-presidential debate: He laughed, he almost cried, he got angry, he looked to the heavens, he laughed some more. Joe Biden gave us a veritable one-man show. It was a tour de force. After Biden retires from politics, he should seriously consider touring the nation with a show: "Being Biden" or "Say it ain't so, Joe."

Opinion roundup: Feisty Biden, wonky Ryan

Mitt Romney may now be finally learning how to "let Mitt be Mitt," but that has never been Biden's problem. Joe Biden wears Joe Biden on his sleeve.

Biden is a mix of Bill Clinton and Clint Eastwood. He's warm and relatable like Clinton, but also you get a sense of unpredictability as we did when watching Eastwood at the Republican National Convention. (My dream debate is Joe Biden versus Clint Eastwood. Add the empty chair and you have the makings of a hit reality show.)

Vice-presidential debate double-talk
Biden the interruption
WH clarifies on Biden's Libya comments
Libya security: "We weren't told," Biden

Debate coach: It's the Biden show!

There has been a lot written about whether Biden went too far at the debate. Did he laugh too much? Was he too impassioned? Too animated? (One of my favorite moments occurred early in the debate when Ryan was answering a question and Biden turned to the camera a la "Ferris Bueller" and gave us a look of: "You've got to be kidding me.")

But does anyone doubt that those were organic reactions by Biden? People can debate all day whether Biden should have reined in his feelings, but those were his true emotions.

Romney hammers Biden on Libya remark

Instead of media pundits and the public attacking people like Biden when they show honest emotion, we should applaud it. In fact, we should demand it from all of our presidential candidates.

There should be one presidential debate that is not about the dry figures of deficit reduction or oil company subsidies, etc., but about heart.

Gergen: Partisans are fired up on both sides

We need a debate that that reveals who they really are beneath their expensive suits with the American flag pins on their lapels. Questions that raise issues that aren't black and white, but hundreds of shades of gray.

Such as, what would you to say to the parents of a child who was killed in a war that you pushed for?

What do you tell a family that is scraping by to make ends meet about why you think millionaires shouldn't have to pay slightly higher taxes? What would you say to a young woman who doesn't want to have an abortion, but you are advocating cutting the government funding that she needs to raise her child?

Opinion: Like a father-son brawl

How would Mitt Romney or President Obama do in response to those type of questions? Probably OK. Obama would be law professoresque but trying to fake some emotion. Romney would give us a memorized answer that has been sanitized by consultants after a gaggle of focus groups. Neither horrible, yet neither compelling. But there is no doubt that Biden would be the big winner.

Look, if you want "Candidate-enstein" or "Franken-tician," a creature designed by high-priced political consultants from the spare parts of past political campaigns, be my guest. There are boatloads of them. But there's only one Joe Biden. And that is truly a shame.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT