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 12:50 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT