Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

We need more Joe Bidens

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
October 13, 2012 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
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
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
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.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT