Vice President Joe Biden has many talents, but a sense of irony doesn’t seem to be one of them. Witness his conference call with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.
In the first minute, he tells thousands of labor activists how much his political career owes to the muscle of the labor movement and how there is a quid pro quo — right before touting the Obama administration as a neutral referee in the labor fights around the country.
Then, the vice president assures his listeners that the administration sees “the absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining” — without mentioning, of course, that federal workers are denied that very same collective bargaining.
Much worse, he says that the people who worked at the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board during the Bush administration were “wearing black shirts.”
Whatever was the vice president referring to? We’ve asked his office for a clarification, but have received no response in the past four hours. His office owes those people either an explanation or an apology, lest they believe that a sitting vice president of the United States meant to compare the people who worked in the last administration to Benito Mussolini’s paramilitary brutes.
Vice President Biden also called Republicans (or conservatives, at least) “barbarians.” Maybe his office could address that, too. Of course, he may have just been playing to his audience: The St. Patrick’s Day call, after all, was a virtual Who’s Who of the labor movement, including the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, the National Education Association (NEA), Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and the Teamsters, and was live in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Iowa, and New Jersey.
There is a regretful tendency in Washington to dismiss what the vice president says with a shrug and say, “Biden will be Biden.” But Mr. Biden is not some loveable if overeager golden retriever who will overturn the china from time to time or do something worse to the carpet. He’s our vice president, and some decorum should be expected.
It was announced today that veteran reporter Shailagh Murray, a talented journalist who worked most recently for the Washington Post, had just become the vice president’s communications director. We wish her well.
— Michael Gonzalez is vice president of communications at the Heritage Foundation. He’s on Twitter at @gundisalvus.