"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Joe "Sixpack" Biden?

They built it.

This past Labor Day weekend, one of the panelists on the "Chris Matthews Show" said something so preposterous that it defies belief, even for the shameless liberal pundits that are the staple of MSNBC’s political coverage. According to Joe Klein, Congressman Paul Ryan is upper-middle class while, "Biden is a working class guy," (around 16:30)--not a symbol of the working class or born of a working class family, mind you, but actually working class in the here and now in his capacity as Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate.

The irony of this howler is even more bitter when we consider that Labor Day was once more than just the last day the pool is open and actually a real celebration of the working man, like those glorified in the mural by Diego Rivera above. Conversely, how can a man who has served in the Senate for nearly 40 years now ever be described as "working class" by any definition whatsoever? The U.S. Senate is modeled after the original Roman Senate for which membership was open only to the wealthiest and most prominent citizens of the Republic. As a practical matter, the same is true in America today.

Furthermore, if Paul Ryan--who, like Biden, has spent his entire career in public service--is wealthy and a symbol of Republican plutocracy with his comparatively modest income in the House of Representatives--which is modeled after the British House of Commons, incidentally--wouldn't that imply that Biden is also one of the evil wealthy capitalist pigs by virtue of his higher salary and longer tenure in the more august upper chamber?

The only other explanation for Biden’s lower socioeconomic status is that he has foolishly outspent his means (all taxpayer funded, of course) and taken out a second mortgage on his million-dollar home, multiple lines of credit with his life insurance as collateral, and squandered more taxpayer funds on his infamous first-class daily commute on Amtrak while Ryan has carefully and judiciously invested his more modest income to build up a greater fortune for the security of his family and future generations.

Given that our overextended entitlement programs closely resemble Biden's finances, this comparison is particularly instructive. Who should we trust more to manage the public fisc? In these lean times, we should place our trust in the proverbial ants who built up their store of provisions during the days of plenty than with the profligate grasshopper Biden. Like the grasshopper of fable, Biden's song and dance would be entertaining if we were at our ease in the golden days of summer.

We do not have that luxury. In these bleak and desperate times, we need men and women of substance and integrity like Congressman Ryan who understand that reforming entitlements is more than just a political game and is not merely necessary, but will become an existential crisis for our democracy if not solved within this decade. We cannot wait for 2016 to finally give serious thought to the defining issue of our age.

Fortunately for the future of this country, regardless of whether Mitt Romney wins or loses the election, Ryan will be in charge of the budget--either in the White House or in the House of Representatives. Democrats should be careful about mocking the man for his financial success, because they're going to have to work with him to mend the nation's finances whether they like it or not.

1 comment:

  1. Joe Klein called Ryan a "lace curtain guy". It is clear he did not literally mean that the fifth generation American is actually a fresh-off-the-boat Irish immigrant trying to move up, nor did he literally mean that Ryan is made out of ornamental trimming. So you can dispense with the misinterpretation of Biden literally being part of the working class at this exact moment. It was obviously not meant that way.

    You should also be aware that Ryan wasn't particularly wealthy for a congressman before he married into money (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/paul-ryan-worth-millions-_n_1774346.html).

    Trusting somebody just because they have money isn't a good idea.