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Democrat Joe Biden likes Republican Sarah Palin's looks

Oh, jeez, here we go already. With the canny, seemingly good-natured-but-really-a-put-down jokes about a female candidate.

The lone female is gone from the Democratic race; they can't use the old pantsuits laugher anymore. So Joe Biden trotted out the subtly dismissive, isn't-she-pretty line about you-know-who, the newbie on the Republican side. (Translation: There's really nothing else to her to comment about, but I won't say that because I'm not a sexist.)

Democratic senators and presidential running mates Joe Biden and Barack Obama confer in Washington

We wonder how this goes down with those millions of female Hillary Clinton supporters whom both sides covet.

Biden was in Ohio with his Democratic ticket partner, whom he once described as "clean," and told an outdoor rally:

“There’s a gigantic difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and between me and I suspect my vice presidential opponent,” Biden said.

“She’s good-looking,” he quipped.

Yeah, really, hold your sides on that one.

Let's turn that reference around 180-degrees and imagine a female candidate in front of a large audience talking about some, oh, hypothetical male opponent for the vice presidency. "Thirty-six years in the United States Senate," she says, "And all he's got to show for it is a beautiful head of hairplugs."

Real classy, right?

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (87)

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She is a former beauty queen. I think that makes it a valid joke and not necessarily sexist. Now that a woman is on the McCain ticker, the complaint of sexism is going to be used at every opportunity. Id suggest really examining the comments and context before going that route.

Biden isn't the most sensitive speaker on diversity issues. But it seems to me you really have to be looking for sexism to see it here. I could see him saying the same thing about Mitt Romney.

The comments are perhaps more appropriate to Palin because nobody knows anything about her views on Iraq, Afghanistan, fighting Al Qaeda, relations with China and Europe, NAFTA, torture, the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the World Bank, the housing crisis, income tax, immigration, poverty, FEMA, farm subsidies... not to mention more pressing issues such as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears!

Interesting article. Lots of build up for the "punchline" of the sexist Mr. Biden. However, even in putting the quote in context as you have, you can clearly see that Biden's joke was that his opponent had the looks and he does not. It was clearly meant as a humorous attempt at self effacing humor, not sexism. Humor is an individual taste, Mr. Malcom, responsibility in Journalism (even your "Journalism") is not. Take a class at the Learning Annex.

You're either working incredibly hard to make a completely innocuous comment seem sinister or else you must be the most over-sensitive person on this planet.

It's insulting that you think women are shallow enough to find Biden's comment insulting. Only a ninny would get worked up over a comment like that, especially when it is compared to some of the views regarding women that McCain has voiced.




Uh, how exactly is making fun of oneself "sexist"?

This is exactly why McCan't picked a woman. So the over sensitive, PC Police, and GOP Zealots can twist any comment (serious or play) into a ploy to play the sexist card.

She's got her sex as shield, and McCan't has his POW experience as his. I guess now they can't be criticized at all.

Now if only Obama would answer all his criticisms with "I'm oppressed!" we could forgo any media coverage what-so-ever, since no one could comment on any nominees.

The author of this article needs to grow up.

Oh, lighten up. He was denigrating himself with that comment, and he would have said the same thing if McCain had picked Brad Pitt as his running mate.

Biden's lowlife,gender-based comment was expected. What is a surprise is revelation of the well-kept secret that Biden had 5 deferments from duty in Vietnam, the same number as Dick Cheney. Cheney has been beaten up about those deferments for 8 years, with even official operatives of the Democrat party refing to him as a "draft dodger" on television. What does that make Biden?
Also, bloggers on this site have referred to McCain's 2 skin cancer removals (which caused him no hospital time) but apparently mention of Biden's 2 brain aneurysm operations is not permitted. Why is that? Who will take over the role of foreign policy "saftey-net" for a totally inexperienced Obama should Biden be incapacitated? Will it be his "friends and mentors",Ayers, Wright, Farakahn, Flager, or will Tony Rezko be out of prison by then?

Oh jeez, here we go already. The desperate-republican-grabbing-at-nonexistent-straws editorial.

I would think it was a generational thing if Obama had not called that reporter in Michigan "sweetie." Maybe male politicians just lack the ability to learn this one.

Really, Mr. Malcolm, just exactly how is that comment supposed to advance the dialog within the body politic?

I hate it when people start media-bashing, and then along comes Andrew with a really asinine comment!

Bash on -- apparently some journalists deserve it.


LIghten up. Sarah Palin is better looking than Joe Biden.
She is not qualified to be vice president, but don't take away what she has going for her.

I took Biden's comment to be mostly self-deprecating, though perhaps a bit ill-advised given how touchy everyone is going to be over the subject. However, I'm at a loss to explain how, if he wanted a woman on the ticket, John McCain passed over Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of Sarah Palin (whose qualifications are laughable), except to note that the latter is much more photogenic.

What else can one say? Great job killing that moose!
Why are you anti-ERA? What do you have against incest and rape victims anyway? Or polar bears, for that matter? This woman is a joke and her selection is an insult to women and to what HRC accomplished in her lifetime. It's saying to us, "You'll vote for ANY woman."
Yes We Can, but
No We Won't!

This is a compliment!!! A a woman I would feel flattered. Palin should too. I find no other hidden meaning at all.

Way to use those selective reading skills. Obama also called his running mate good-looking in the same speech. Last time I checked, Obama has a y-Chromosome. Meaning he's a guy. Meaning there was no sexism. Meaning you didn't read the whole speech. Meaning you just made a fool of yourself. Good job!

Malcolm is a journalist?/?/??? With such tripe as the above article (do we need more crap like this?) when serious matters are surrounding the nation and the world, is this the best he can do? I think it's time old Malcom had a vacation in a cow pasture along with the other old bulls.
I've been more and more ignoring his writings..I think this settles more Malcolm on this computer.

Actually, the reverse of that comment from Palin, would be something like: "The difference between me and my opponent - he's good looking." Naturally this would only make sense if Joe Biden were better looking than she - but you get the point. Your logic is all over the place. Nothing in his comment is sexist - he could have made the same joke about a younger male opponent, with the same innocuous implications.

Since when don't looks count? Think Barack Obama with snaggle-teeth? Looks count and ever shall count--but only so far.

This just goes to show you that being a successful woman doesn't count unless you're a democrat.

hey, listen to Sarah Palin in her own words in this NewsWeek Video that was done back in March 2008! Its very telling!

Is she "clean" and "articulate" too?

I swear, Biden is like every leftist caricature of a conservative: an arrogant gasbag sexist/near-racist. But he's a precious Democrat, so it can all be explained away... right?
(crickets chirping)

Okay, so what he said she was good looking.

Rush Limbaugh called her a babe! How degrading is that?

Alaskan: Governor Babe for VP!
February 28, 2008

RUSH: Julie in Kodiak, Alaska. Hello.

CALLER: Good morning, Rush.

CALLER: I was calling today because I heard on our statewide news that one of the running mates for McCain being considered would be our governor from the great state of Alaska.

RUSH: Talked about this I think yesterday or the day before.
CALLER: Yep. She's been heralded throughout the state as being personable, likable, intelligent, strong, and conservative. And she crosses over from conservative to liberalism not in thought, but because she stands by what she believes in. And, surprisingly enough, she has been at the forefront of ethics reform in our great state --

RUSH: Yeah, plus she's a housewife, before that, she's a babe. I saw a picture.

CALLER: (laughing)

RUSH: Well, it's undeniable.

CALLER: Well, it is undeniable, and that's why the paradox is there for me. I think that because she's intelligent, number one, conservative maybe number one also, but she is photogenic, she is likable, she is engaging. When you meet her, she is interested in you, she speaks well.

RUSH: By the way, wait a second. I'm not diminishing any of those things by pointing out that she's a babe.

CALLER: Oh, no, no, no.

RUSH: The babe is the icing on the cake aspect, something the Democrats can't claim on their side.

CALLER: Exactly, especially when the highest Democrat that you can speak of is Mrs. Bill Clinton.

RUSH: You said it, not I. I just advanced the theory.

CALLER: Well, I can tell you that Governor Palin doesn't have to lift her chin up to 12 o'clock to get a good photo of her.

RUSH: I just love you. I love you, Julie. I love listening to women talk about other women like this.

CALLER: I am not berating Mrs. Bill Clinton, I am just --

RUSH: No, of course not. You are elevating Madam Palin.

CALLER: (laughing) Exactly.

RUSH: Absolutely.

CALLER: She can't take a bad picture not even from the back end.

RUSH: (laughing) She can't take a bad picture even from the back end. All of which you say is true. Her name has been thrown up there. She has four kids, I think she's 42 years old, very conservative. I don't know how serious it is, but her name has been thrown in the hopper out there. Look, Julie, I'm glad you called. Thanks much.


Ummm , Andrew, I believe that was meant as self-deprecating against himself. Or, do you completely lack sense of humor as such unless in comes from McPOW?

Oh, wait, I get it!! It fits right into the MSM narrative of a woman against an older guy. Perfect! Let's stir up a little bit, eh?

I am quite surprised with Senator Bidens comment about Gov. Sarah Palin. You would think he would be happy to see a woman on the ticket of course unless it means he is not there. Maybe he would respect Senator Clinton being the VP for the demo party. Or does he see her the way he views Gov. Palin and everyother women?

Gov. Palin is quite attractive and intelligent, sharp and mentally strong. Of course, as long as a democrate makes a sexist remark, as nice as it might be, they get away with it. Much like the White House use to treat women. Also, where are the womens groups to attack Senator Biden for such a remark. Oh yes! Biden and them are on the same side--they are democrates too and therefore, it is okay for a male in their party to make a remarks like that, even if innocent or jokingly.

i doubt she'd take offense. for heaven's sake, she used to compete in beauty pageants. she opened herself up to it.

Come on, get a life. He was joking. And if you watch the video then you see that it was really funny and not sexist in any way.
By the way, if I tell my girlfriend that she looks beautiful, am I sexist too?

The real sexism here is the Republican camp trying to have it both ways. I watched CNN on and off during the long weekend, and no less than three times did I hear that Joe Biden should not go after Sarah Palin too hard during their debate, lest he look like a bully. Palin can't be tough enough to be commander-in-chief and simultaneously too weak to goe toe-to-toe with Biden. The Republicans are the ones playing the gender card, not the Democrats.

Joe Biden was saying what every single straight man in America was saying around the water cooler or thinking on Friday. "I don't know much about her, but she looks hot."

I'm not saying it's right, but I am saying that it's not just Biden doing this, it's almost all men, Republican and Democrat alike (see Limbaugh comment above). Don't fall for the ploy that sexism is specific to any political party. Remember, this is the first time a woman has been on the Republican ticket; the Democrats had a woman on the ticket decades ago.

Also, let's not forget that Obama was complimented by some supporters and pundits for being handsome. Sexism is a double edged sword; try to say that its victims are only women and you'll see a large chunk of the male base balk at whoever makes such a grossly inaccurate observation.

Yeah, kind of like people saying things about "O", he's got great abs, he's good looking.....which he's not, very typical looking, and he's different. Okay, so what? You can't deny that Palin is pretty, but that's not what got her where she is, she's smart and has executive experience, unlike "O". Get real, people that would vote for "O" have no clue what's going on in the world, or for that matter, the U.S, most don't even watch the news or listen to what "O" or Biden is saying, they are voting "just because".

Biden's comment was sexist, and there isn't a single supporter of his that didn't cringe when they heard it. He messed up. No amount of spin will change this. Imagine the backlash if McCain said something like " I like Obama, he speaks well for a black man".

Regarding the Sept. 1st comment posted by WoManBoycott (2:14 am):

"The media and the democrap party pursues this unending, hypocritical sneering smug condescendion (clearly a fear-based reaction) at their own peril."

I hope you have since seen the unending, hypocritical, sneering, smug condescension (even MORE clearly a fear-based reaction) exhibited by republican speakers. I can tell you that, as a swing voter, the whole tone of the republican speakers and attendees turned me off. There were smirks and boos at every opportunity which you didn't see during the democratic speehes. To be republican right now feels like sinking back into the darkness of the last 8 years...ICK!! I do not want another helping of that abysmal government, thanks just the same. McCain is a patriot, but I can't possibly vote for the mentality he will surround himself with and perpetuate as president. Let's not forget that he has had his share of scandal, both in mishandling of taxpayer money and in extramarital affairs. I couldn't care less about the latter, but the former actually affects me. The only reason we need to care about Sarah Palin is if McCain is compromised and she has to step in. If I agreed with her politics, I would say she is qualified. Who cares about all the other distractors presented in the media? What are the issues??!! That is what matters.

I also have to comment on a September 1st post by, "john":

"What is there about the Democrats, that they can't keep there [sic] mouth or there [sic] zipper shut?"

What is it about men in power, Dems or Repubs, that they get into political trouble surrounding sexual impropriety? The very same could be said about republicans. What about Jack Ryan, Larry Craig or Dave Vitter, to name just a few? Let's not be stupid and allow these things to distract us from what our president might or might not do in office that will actually affect our lives and those of our children.

I am a woman and don't find Biden's perception of Palin as sexist. Biden can't say she's pretty...but the Repugs can call her "HOT". What's more sexist???? Biden is giving her a compliment, while the Repugs want to "do" her!!! Bend over VEEP!!!

You people truly amaze me... It's unbearable to sit here and read such garbage to begin with, but then to hear some of the comments is simply scary. To see, first hand, how ignorant so many people are when it comes to politics. Biden stated the obvious, nothing more and nothing less. The last thing he would have wanted to do was to put her down. He doesn't need to. And he doesn't need to discredit her. The fact is she has no credit. She is a nobody when it comes down to it. She has absolutely no experience having anything to do with what we, the Nation, are facing today. How can one compare shaping the economy of Alaska to what we are facing in America today?
It seems like a dream I am in...Or a bad joke. How stupid do these people think we are? She is nothing more than a pawn in a sick game, that would and will, if elected, effect our very livelihoods. McCain, and his so-called advisers, could have chosen her for only one reason.... They all seen how close the Democratic nomination was, so who better to get the votes of all those displaced Hillary supporters( including me). Well, I can tell you this, IT'S AN INSULT!!! An insult to our intelligence. But they're betting on her looks, and the fact that she is a woman, to keep us preoccupied as to not notice.
Has she not asked herself, "Why Me"? Of all the more experienced candidates, why on God's green earth would he choose me'? Does this not insult her as well? Because, let's face it, she is no Hillary Clinton!!!!!!

Senator Biden – Draft Dodger Qualification to be Commander-in-Chief
What exactly makes Senator Biden qualified to be Commander-in-Chief other than during the Vietnam War he displayed a phenomenal ability to avoid a military conflict, especially if it posed a personal danger? I would also point out that the Obama-Biden ticket will be historic for another not-so impressive reason, it will be the first ticket of either major party in the past 68 years (since 1940) where neither the presidential nor vice presidential candidate has ever worn this country’s uniform.
Biden and many other of his ilk were technically “Draft Dodgers.” Draft dodging does not necessarily mean “illegal” as the Webster’s Dictionary of the time defined it as simply “avoiding military service.” Applying for student or occupational deferments (and you did have to apply), leaving the country, feigning homosexuality, getting an asthma excuse from an unscrupulous private doctor or signing up for ROTC without any intentions of participating were all things people did, legally and illegally, to avoid performing their duty. I don’t care if your name was Cheney or Clinton, Biden or Romney, don’t insult my intelligence with a lame excuse. “It was the luck of the draw” (Clinton), “If called, I would have been happy to serve” (Cheney) or “look at my personal doctor’s asthma diagnosis after my 6 other deferments ran out” (Biden), are all a little disingenuous when each did everything short of maiming himself (which none had the guts to do) to make sure he was unavailable to be called.
Also, consider draft quotas were assigned by draft board. When one man evaded, someone else, often less educated or advantaged and always less eligible, served in his place. Additionally, because many of the more capable natural leaders avoided service, we often had to settle for the LT Cally’s of the world for leadership. Think of how many American lives could have been saved if leaders of Clinton, Cheney or Biden’s potential had done their duty. Isn’t it ironic how correct Clinton was when he used to say that “it’s the little guy who plays by the rules that always ends up taking it in the neck.”
As for Biden in particular, he was subject to the draft for most of the Vietnam draft era but continued to avoid service by applying (and it did require applying) for six separate deferments. Although in his best-selling memoir published last year, “Promises to Keep,” Biden recounted his active childhood, working as a lifeguard and excelling at high school football, but he never mentions asthma. Now he claims that “during the Vietnam War he got a draft notice but flunked the physical due to asthma.” I’m afraid I’d have to see the government documentation of his physical before believing it as, you may recall, Biden’s record of veracity isn’t the best. By the time Biden finally got his draft notice, he was already a lawyer so knew how to “manipulate the system.” Was his asthma “discovered” during his draft physical or did Mr. Biden bring in “documentation” from his “private physician” in an effort to establish a disqualifying feature after he received a draft notice. This is something worthy of a New York Times investigation.
Having been Drafted and Inducted into the Army in June 1967 in Wilkes-Barre, the Armed Forces Entrance and Examination Station for Northeast Pennsylvania including Biden’s “hometown” of Scranton, I have a little first hand knowledge on how physicals were conducted. I had three disqualifying features detected during my Draft Physical including a “loose knee” from a wrestling injury that should have been surgically corrected. Instead of being disqualified, the doctor stamped my Physical “Waiver” but did warn me to “be careful with the knee in Vietnam so it didn’t dislocate again!” I was inducted later that afternoon and ended up serving an extended tour in Vietnam. I guess I might have “Taken Biden’s Place” in the War but never got so much as a thank-you from him! Then again, my circumstance might have been a little different than Biden’s. When I was drafted my father and brother (who suffered with terrible asthma for his entire 24 year military career) were active duty military, and my mother and four uncles were WWII combat veterans. Being found “unfit for service” would have been too embarrassing. Then again, some people have no shame so can’t be embarrassed.
I remember how Senator (and Medal of Honor recipient) Bob Kerrey put it in 1992 when he said “as I remember it, at that time if you could walk and chew gum, the military would take you.” Wonder how much Joe whined during his physical to get found “not physically qualified” because, I assure you from personal experience, it would not have happened without considerable whining!
Former Virginia Governor, current Senate candidate and Democrat Convention Keynote speaker Mark Warner was quoted in the 26 August Washington Post as saying: “(Biden) has real-world grass-roots, blue-collar appeal. He can go into a VFW hall or Kiwanis Club meeting and ….” He might be able to go into a Kiwanis Club but he definitely has NOT earned the right to enter a VFW Hall! If he was “unfit” to serve then when his country needed him badly, what makes him any more fit to serve now?

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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