Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Which Vice Presidential Candidate Was it Who ...

"Also in the CBS interview, Biden said, “When the stock market crashed, 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.’""

When the stock market crashed in 1929, Herbert Hoover was President; FDR wouldn't get the job until 1933. Television as a mass medium was a decade or so in the future. The first president to appear on TV was (I think--corrections welcome) Truman in 1946. If Palin had said it, it would be taken as proof positive of her lack of education. It is hard to see any explanation for Biden's statement other than striking historical ignorance.

Does it matter? Probably not—any more than it matters how recently Palin got a passport. Neither the things one is supposed to learn about American history in high school nor the things a tourist learns wandering around Europe are all that important for doing the job they are applying for. But it will be interesting to see what form the story takes in the media, according to who wants to slant it how.

18 Comments:

At 2:25 AM, September 24, 2008, Anonymous Robert S. Porter said...

I think it shows that both VP candidates are terrible. I'll grant you that had Palin said it there would be more outcry.

According to the internet FDR indeed was the first president on television, as described on Wikipedia. Truman, however, was supposedly the first to give an address from the White House. Keep in mind that neither of these assertions go beyond uncited comments, but it seems plausible.

 
At 5:33 AM, September 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One justification the media give for the extra scrutiny of Palin is that she is a "heartbeat away" from the presidency, whereas Biden is not. It's more likely that she will end up as president rather than Biden, because McCain is older than Obama.

Another is that the public has been exposed to Biden, whereas Palin is more of an unknown. We are assumed to know already how goofy he is. Probably the chief criticism Biden has received in this presidential campaign is that he is not Hilary.

 
At 6:05 AM, September 24, 2008, Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

We are assumed to know already how goofy he is.

Off all the qualities I'd want in a man a heartbeat away from the Presidency, goofy is far, far down the list.

A Biden Administration would be amusing, however.

 
At 7:38 AM, September 24, 2008, Blogger Carl Edman said...

anonymous said:
Another is that the public has been exposed to Biden, whereas Palin is more of an unknown. We are assumed to know already how goofy he is.

Anonymous vastly overestimates the information of voters. Before the recent conventions, I'd estimate that 97-99% of the electorate had never heard of Palin and maybe 95-98% of the electorate had never heard of Biden, much less already long-since digested their respective character qualities.

While I cannot back this conclusion up with any polling data, recall that according to polls about 75% of the electorate cannot name a single Supreme Court justice and contemplate how much more obscure minor-state senators and governors are.

 
At 7:39 AM, September 24, 2008, Blogger Alan said...

I notice Biden didn't actually say 1929. The only stock market crash mentioned here that happened under FDR was in 1937, a little too early for a televised speech, but given that "crash" isn't clearly defined, isn't it possible that FDR spoke about a stock market crash on television at some point?

 
At 7:55 AM, September 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Porter:

How does Biden getting a historical fact wrong, and the media then choosing its slant, show that "both VP candidates are terrible"?

Your statement may be true, but I just don't see the evidence of that here.

 
At 9:56 AM, September 24, 2008, Blogger Gil said...

I agree that it's not very important that a candidate is ignorant of these kinds of historical facts.

It's fine to not know these things. But, what's disconcerting to me is that Biden acts like he knows things that he clearly doesn't. That could be a problem.

 
At 10:37 AM, September 24, 2008, Anonymous Robert S. Porter said...

How does Biden getting a historical fact wrong, and the media then choosing its slant, show that "both VP candidates are terrible"?

Because it demonstrates that both candidates are ignorant. It also shows that each were chosen for strategic reasons, rather than their qualities.

 
At 10:57 AM, September 24, 2008, OpenID boffo said...

But it will be interesting to see what form the story takes in the media, according to who wants to slant it how.

You really think this story will show up in the media?

 
At 12:12 PM, September 24, 2008, Anonymous albatross said...

Perhaps the main lesson here is that, in general, we don't really get very smart or well-educated or informed people as presidential/vice-presidential candidates. In fact, our mechanism for selecting them pretty much guarantees they will seldom be very bright or informed people--those folks are "elitist" and "condescending."

This is more striking when you understand that we expect them to be able to make huge, high-stakes decisions like about whether to spend a trillion dollars bailing out the financial industry, or whether to spend hundreds of billions invading and occupying Iraq. Maybe they're just not bright enough for the job. (Maybe nobody is--that's one of the better arguments for not centralizing power in the president's office or the federal government.)

 
At 12:52 PM, September 24, 2008, Blogger Shane Murphy said...

I think he was talking about FDR's radio address in 1933 (which I'm having my macro students listen to this week).

 
At 4:21 PM, September 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone already knows that Biden is a gasbag. It's not news.

 
At 3:50 PM, September 26, 2008, Blogger Justin said...

It's unlikely to show up in the mass media, mostly because they pre-inoculated Biden against that sort of thing. Even as they were nominating him for VP, there was a constant subtext of, "Despite the fact that he is known to shoot his mouth off carelessly..."

Basically, it isn't news. Regardless of his strengths and weaknesses, even his own people pretty much publically admit that he isn't especially careful when speaking off-the-cuff. So it's pretty much a "dog bites man" story...

 
At 4:00 PM, September 26, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

"Regardless of his strengths and weaknesses, even his own people pretty much publically admit that he isn't especially careful when speaking off-the-cuff."

That might explain why he revealed his ignorance. But the interesting story is the fact of his ignorance.

 
At 1:25 PM, September 27, 2008, Anonymous js290 said...

Case in point...

 
At 7:13 PM, October 06, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

Visiting foreign countries demonstrates (and generates) intellectual curiosity to see and experience foreign cultures. Intellectual curiosity is what Palin most lacks.

Biden has the occasional gaffe, but it's rather ridiculous to claim that that is an equal to Palin's continual streak of gibberish when faced with a question that she hasn't studied a pre-scripted answer for.

 
At 9:21 AM, January 22, 2009, Blogger 海賊王 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:22 PM, March 16, 2009, Blogger moto said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home