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 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT