This weekend, Vice President Joe Biden had a conversation with a custard store owner that was caught on video. The Vice President asked how much it cost, and the manager told him it would be free if he reduced taxes. A friendly conversation ensued, but the Vice President told him not to be a smart-ass, which was the newsworthy moment of the night.
First of all, it’s rude for anybody to drop a controversial argument on a politician during an ice-cream break with a group of friends. Plus, the Vice President is probably the last guy who can do something about that on a Friday night. Second, it’s unprofessional to do that if you’re the store manager. The guy was being a smart-ass, and Biden made a private comment about it that happened to become public. It strikes me as all the more assertive and good-natured that Biden’s comment alleviated rather than escalated the tension.
Also in the last few days, Biden made a comment that the administration could never recover all the jobs that had been lost in the Great Recession. It went without saying that nobody disputes his point. I wish these stories received more discussion for Biden’s honesty and intellectual balance. He’s a serious guy with experience and ideas, and he has a unique brand of extroversion, gregariousness and assertiveness that make him good at his career. I am not saying I want him to be my president or my senator, but his success isn’t a coincidence.