EDITORIAL: Biden Strikes Again

Media overplayed custard stand comment

Joe Biden strikes again!

This editorial was written by Kate Kallenberger based on the deliberations of a Media Milwaukee editorial board

This time, the vice president is caught on tape calling Scott Borkin, a custard shop worker in Glendale, WI, a “smartass” for a comment he made about lowering taxes.

Borkin’s comment was surely in jest but Media Milwaukee feels it was inappropriate and out of turn.

Biden’s recent gaffe is another stop in the long line of vice presidential F-bombs, handicap insensitivities and general foot-into-mouth insertions that he has become infamous for.

The long time Kopp’s Frozen Custard worker responded to Biden’s inquiry on the cost of his chocolate custard with “Don’t worry, it’s on us. Lower our taxes and we’ll call it even.”

It is agreed upon that Biden should have kept his professional faculties and ignored the lame comment from Borkin. However, the entire incident is being blown out of proportion.

The incident is on tape and a quick review of the footage shows both men chuckling at the ‘smartass’ remark and seeming relatively unfazed. Borkin did not appear offended and Biden did not seem remorseful for his comment because, the board feels, the conversation was clearly harmless banter.

In fact, a WISN-12 news report on the event reports Borkin said he “enjoyed his banter with the vice president.” This evaluation surely comes after coverage of Biden’s visit and an interview with Borkin.

Because the ‘smartass’ remark is another in the body of Biden’s faux pas, other media outlets, political pundits, and anti-Biden enthusiasts have manipulated the event in their favor.

Let it be clear, this is not, and probably will not be, the worst thing Joe Biden has said. It is too bad ‘smartass’ is not the worst name politicians throw around.

Harsher language and far more offensive names can be found in political candidates’ mudslinging television commercials. Truly, worse things than ‘smartass’ have been uttered by pre-schoolers.

The board concedes Biden was in the wrong when he vaguely insulted the custard shop worker and let yet another curse word slip from his increasingly loose lips. But it is clear that Borkin too, stepped out of line.

At worst, Biden appears childish. When he feels verbally challenged by a person he surely deems lesser, he panics and retaliates with immature tactics like “Hey, why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?”

But the board concurs Borkin also appears childish. He exploited his chance interaction with the vice president to appear clever and to put the spotlight on Kopp’s. He wanted media attention, and that is exactly what he is getting. It is doubtful his fleeting comment about lowering taxes was meant as a serious suggestion. How should Biden have reacted to what was, in fact, a smartass remark?

A custard shop is not the appropriate arena for political debate or discussion. The incident was not a town hall meeting or an official interview. Had this been the case, Biden would have been out of line.

Though Biden should remember he is the vice president all the time, including on ice cream runs, he should be pardoned. His comment was mildly disrespectful but he was disrespected first and verbal retaliation is human instinct.

Biden is constantly in the spotlight but it appears he forgets at times. Media Milwaukee forgives him for this. His job is one of the most stressful in the country. If the worst thing the media can scrutinize him for is swearing or calling someone, who was in fact being disrespectful, a smartass, Biden must be doing rather well at second in command.






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