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Legal Commentary: Prawfs
Is Joe Biden An Idiot?
By Dan Markel, Ethan Leib, Rick Garnett, Matt Bodie, Paul Horwitz , Steve Vladeck, and Orly Lobel
Ann Bartow thinks so, in a post titled "Cripes is Joe Biden an Idiot." But notwithstanding my earlier skeptical remarks on Biden, methinks Ann is wrong -- at least based on the new evidence adduced. Linking to a youtube video, Ann writes that in the video, Biden is
importuning Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham to stand up and be recognized. Graham couldn?t do it, because Graham is confined to a wheelchair. ?God love you,? says Biden, when he figures this out, about ten minutes after the rest of the audience.
To my mind, there's not even a kernel of truth to the suggestion that Biden's reaction is indicative of idiocy. Biden was looking at his notes just before he read Graham's name and he was probably not briefed in advance (or he simply forgot) that Graham was in a wheelchair. Moreover, as one witness put it, Graham "was sitting in front of two curtains and no one would have been able to tell he was in a wheelchair." The moment Biden locates Graham in the audience, he recognizes his mistake; indeed, it takes literally no more than a second or two (look at the video!) after he read his name that Biden realizes that Graham is in a wheelchair, at which point Biden adroitly acknowledges his error and recovers by asking the audience to stand up in tribute to Graham: "Oh, God love you. What am I talking about? I'll tell you what, you're making everybody else stand up, old pal. I'll tell you what, everybody else stand up for Chuck. Stand up for Chuck!" In short, Biden's no idiot -- the incident simply shows him to be human: capable of both error and graciousness. And perhaps he's also guilty of a too-easily assumed familiarity: it is weird of Biden to call Graham his old pal if he didn't know in advance that Graham is in a wheelchair. But that's not much worse I suspect than McCain's tic of addressing every crowd as "my friends."
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