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Say it ain't Joe

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Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Maybe he's just what America needs. Then again, maybe not.

I speak of Vice President Joe Biden — who, according to Politico, is “intoxicated” by thoughts of being inaugurated as president in 2017. He'd be delighted to “finish what Barack Obama started.”

Well, who better to finish what President Obama started than Uncle Joe? I'll bet he'd be even better at runaway government spending, lack of budget discipline and total disinterest in addressing entitlement growth, tax reform and other essentials for getting our economy going.

I'm certainly no fan of Obama's policies, but here's one area where he really falls short: He's not funny.

Bill Clinton was funny. He reminded us, said Dennis Miller, of the guy in the college fraternity who used to tap the keg.

President George W. Bush was plenty polarizing during his two terms, but he was funny, too. The press filed reports every time he bumbled his words. And Bush gave late-night comics almost as much material as Clinton.

“As you all know,” said Jay Leno after Bush left office, “George Bush is no longer president, so they'll be no monologue (tonight).”

There was a lot of truth in Leno's statement. Obama doesn't make good fodder for late-night comics. That's partly because late-night comedy writers tend to skew left and largely agree politically with him.

But it's also because there's not much funny about him.

During the last presidential campaign, says the Daily Beast, citing a study by George Mason University, late-night comics did twice as many Romney jokes as Obama jokes — David Letterman did five times as many.

The Romney jokes pulled no punches. With the exception of Leno, however, the Obama jokes hardly ever made Obama the butt of the joke. Here's a typical example:

“Yesterday, Mitt Romney's son Tagg said that during the debate he wanted to punch President Obama for calling his father a liar,” said Conan O'Brien. “He also wants to punch his father for giving him the name Tagg.”

Which brings us back to Biden.

If there's anything most people agree on in these polarized times, it's that every time Biden speaks, he delivers gifts from the comedy gods:

“If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong.”

“When the stock market crashed (in 1929), Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here's what happened.'” (FDR's first inauguration wasn't until 1933, and nobody had TVs to watch in 1929.)

“Stand up, Chuck, let ‘em see ya,” said Biden to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who is confined to a wheelchair.

Yes, old Joe is a tremendous source of humor, though here is something that is not so funny: He actually could become president — and could continue the spending, government expansion and lack of leadership Obama has started.

Obama's machine was skillful turning out new voters — many of whom don't worry about things like debt, deficits and potential economic collapse. That machine just might put an old political character like Joe into the nation's highest office.

My preference is for a bold, results-oriented reformer, such as Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — someone with the guts to attack our problems boldly and ideas that will get the needed results.

I worry that the majority will reject such ideas, however, and that our transformation into a slow-growth, high-tax, high-debt, European-style state is inevitable.

Ah, well, if old Joe becomes president, at least we'll get some decent late-night jokes out of it.

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, lives in Library. Visit him on the web at E-mail him at:

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