Mrs. Biden’s Diary (May 6, 2009)

Dear Diary: Joe came home last night looking so glum. He really thought he could achieve his version of President Obama’s 100 days by going 100 days of his own as he put it, “without the taste of shoe leather in my mouth.”

Then came that swine flu media event, and Joe spoke his mind in that ready-fire-aim way of his. Not surprisingly, he came close to shutting down the entire national transportation system with what could have been a tag line for the movie, Planes, Trains and Other Confined Spaces. When he saw his aide Elizabeth’s hands flipping through her Thesaurus with the frantic pace of hummingbird wings searching for the words to “clarify what Joe meant,” Joe said he knew his streak had come to an end.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” I tried to console him. “I’m sure you went longer than DiMaggio did with his hitting streak.” That seemed to brighten his spirits, and he told me this episode will strengthen his resolve to complete Barack’s voluntary “Teleprompter Workshop,” which he had stopped attending because, “it was just so hard for me to see what I was going to say before I even thought about it. It’s just not the way my brain works.”

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Joe doesn’t think his brain is separated by the traditional right side/left side demarcation. “I think my brain has gears rather than sides,” he explained to me all through my (ultimately failed) attempt to watch a Discovery Channel special on mental disorders. “I think my rational and creative sides are all in one big lump in the middle of my head. And it’s the gears that get that lump going either rationally or creatively for me. But sometimes I feel like I have to skip first gear and start in second and just pop the clutch. That’s where the trouble starts.”

At least I think that’s what he said. I was really trying to concentrate on the program’s discussion of Tourette’s syndrome, and I may have missed some of Joe’s salient thoughts.

Actually, the idea for the teleprompter workshop was Michelle’s and mine and not Barack’s. She called me after Barack’s “Special Olympics” crack on Jay Leno and then his news conference remark that the stock market had gone from “14 million down to 9 million.” She was wondering if Joe’s foot-in-mouth disease might be in any way contagious. “Something like Biden-flu.” She immediately apologized if I found her question offensive. I told her if I had a nickel for every public official that has asked me that over the years…

We talked about it, and we both kind of came up with the idea of a teleprompter workshop for the whole administration, on the off chance that Joe is in some way “infectious.”

I know Elizabeth will be pleased if Joe completes the workshop. She told me she freezes every time she hears the word “tortured” on the news, because she thinks they might be talking about one of her clarifications concerning another of Joe’s public statements. She says her Thesaurus is already in tatters after only a few months of the new administration, so I think I know what I can get her for Christmas.

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Well, dear diary, I just heard Joe come in, practicing out loud that “read then speak” mantra the workshop is using as an mnemonic device, so I better go for now. Besides, there’s a documentary on PBS tonight about…I think I’ll just tape it, in case Joe decides to watch it with me.


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