Joe Biden on The View

Slate's Culture Blog
April 22 2010 2:31 PM

Joe Biden on The View


In a hotly anticipated appearance, the executive branch today came to New York City to make itself heard, loud and clear, on matters crucial to the health of the nation, delivering sharp remarks to a group of titans. I refer, of course, to Joe Biden's trip to The View .

The guest and four of his five hostesses were looking good even Whoopi, even in her customary low-cut court shoes. Biden went with a sober black suit, a double-dimpled lilac necktie, and a white three-point pocket square. Though I couldn't tell what was happening at the ends of his arms, I'd bet 50 bucks that he abjured link cuffs and certainly French ones, with their elitist overtones. A resounding majority of the ladies wore black, the exception being Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who had dressed for an occasion that doesn't really exist. Matching a gay gray ruffle-collared floor-length sleeveless gown with sparkly high heels, she was turned out for either an evening garden party held on an Astroturf lawn or a state dinner held at Forever 21.

I dwell on sartorial matters because there is so little else to dwell on. Biden was steadfastly circumspect. Consider, if you can be bothered to do so, how he handled the first question, which was lobbed by Barbara Walters, who asked him to tell us what exactly the vice-president does . "Depends on whether you talk to Cheney," he chuckled, before defusing the remark with "All kidding aside ..." Given the historical record, that sentence does not constitute kidding. It is rather a witticism grounded in unfortunate fact. But, hey. While I don't recall the rest of Biden's answer, my understanding is that his role is to serve as the President of the Senate, to officiate the counting of the votes of the Electoral College, and to not fuck up talk-show visits such as this one.

Biden executed the last of these tasks with aplomb, even stepping gracefully away from Hasselbeck's query about whether the administration considers Sarah Palin a genuine threat in 2012. His grin wide and tight, he answered thus: "Look. I ... huh-huh-huh-heh-huh . [Change of subject.]"

The portion of the hour that made the biggest impression on me occurred during the commercial break the revelation that Kellogg's Pop-Tarts now come in 25 flavors, the least undisgusting of which being chocolate banana split. If only Biden's vibe on The View had been redolent of Popsters strawberry blast ! But no. Giving his audience nothing but harmless charm, he was strictly brown-sugar cinnamon, low fat.

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Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.