POLITICS
10/25/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

How Joe Biden Became Gaffe-Proof

When Joe Biden described an Obama ad attacking John McCain's inability to use a computer as "terrible," the world acted as if the Joe-pocalypse had finally arrived. Jonathan Martin of Politico called it "perhaps his most off-message statement yet." Newsday dubbed him "gaffe-a-minute Joe." National Review's Victor Davis Hanson said it raised "serious concern whether Biden is up to the job."

Please. Biden's blunder couldn't matter less. Not because gaffes never matter--they can, if they play into public perceptions of the candidate's character--but because Joe Biden is gaffe-proof. Whatever traps he sets for himself, however many minorities he offends, he always seems to wriggle out. It's almost as if, by committing so many gaffes, he has become immune to their effects. "Joe Biden Makes Gaffe" is the new "Dog Bites Man."

In the past week, Biden hasn't disappointed. When the federal government announced the AIG bailout, Biden said it was a bad idea. (The official campaign stance at the time was neither support for nor opposition to the bailout; Obama gently chided Biden for going off-message.) In Ohio, Biden said he's against clean-coal technology. (That was his stance in the primaries, not Obama's current stance.) And in an interview with Katie Couric, he said that when the markets crashed in 1929, "Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.' " (FDR wasn't president then, nor did television exist.)

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