Dear Diary: I admit I was nervous when I read in the papers that Barack was giving Joe “free rein” to speak his mind on any subject. I called Michelle. “Is it true?” She said “not exactly,” and I found I could breathe normally again.
What Michelle told me was that her husband was not going to try to muzzle Joe anymore. “Like what he said about Israel launching against Iran and then that remark about how they all misread the economy. Barack told me he couldn’t believe his own vice president went from being a neocon fanatic to a Republican attack ad in the same day. ‘You just can’t imagine things like that being said in your worst nightmares as President, much less actually reading them in the morning paper,’ Barack told me. I mean his eyes were almost as big as his ears when he said it, too.”
Michelle explained that Barack was looking for some strategy that would not make the world think of us as our own Axis of Evil the way Cheney made it seem. “But he thinks keeping the world a bit on its heels by not knowing for sure what we’re going to say next might not be a bad idea to get other countries paying us serious attention again ‘without running for the bomb shelters first.’”
Michelle said Barack seems to think now that letting Joe be Joe and then clarifying it afterwards before the world and the Republicans can throw conniptions might actually be a pretty good strategy for teasing out some off-the-wall ideas and gauging responses.
Well, there’s no question that when it comes to off-the-wall my Joe is a walking squash racquet. I told Michelle, “So it’s more like a good cop-bad cop routine, then?”
Michelle paused for moment and then said not quite. “I’d say Barack envisions it more like a good cop-Keystone cop arrangement.”
That had the right ring to it, and I promised to give Michelle a heads up whenever I think Joe is about to let fly. (He likes to try these things out in the shower rather than sing like most people.)
Before hanging up, Michelle did ask one final question she said had been on her mind ever since she first heard it. “Did Joe really ask an eight-and-a-half minute question during the Alito confirmation hearing?”
Now it was my turn to pause for minute, before I softly answered, “Yes.” (I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that Joe has always felt he was cut off.)
But I remember that morning before the hearing that it was one of the longest showers Joe ever took.