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Joe Biden update: His GOP 'terrorists' quote reaffirmed

an iowa protester in peosta carries a sign referring to joe biden calling tea party members terrorists aug 2011

So, did Vice President Joe Biden really liken Republican House "tea party" members to terrorists during the debt deal roughhousing, just as President Obama was publicly professing a desire for political civility?

In a way, it doesn't matter anymore, because the belief that he did has hardened like cement (see the photo above, the protester on the right, all the way out in Iowa).

In an unusual move within the fraternities of Washington journalism, Politico, which broke the original hot story, issued a reaffirmation of the piece Wednesday, apparently in response to another Washington news organization questioning Politico's sources as "dubious."

To refresh your memory, hours after Biden met behind closed doors with unhappy....

...congressional Democrats during the heated talks, Politico reported that the vice president of the United States had agreed with Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle's characterization of the House's new GOP majority and said, "They have acted like terrorists."

Biden tried to make a joke over his "effing" gaffe. But not this one, not when his boss is bemoaning hyperbolic Republicans.

Politico describes its reporting on the incident, saying it had five sources describe the scene and notes that Biden never asked for a correction or retraction and issued an artful dodge of a response.Joe Biden and granddaughter Naomi Biden arrive in Beijing 8-16-11

The veracity is important here because the Obama administration is trying to blame the tea party's unreasonable ideological rabble for the unprecedented credit downgrade by Standard & Poor's, not the White House's wanton spending or unwillingness to make entitlement cuts.

It's an important part of Obama's planned 2012 campaign meme to pin blame for the nation's ongoing economic stagnation on Republicans, who just took over the House in January -- and to shield the lopsided congressional majorities of Democrats since 2007 that included both Obama and Biden for half that time.

Politically, it could also help cause Obama to shed the aging Delawarean from the national ticket next year. Although this is rarely done by either party, if polls and labor and economic stats are as bad 365 days from this morning, what is a murmur now could become loud demands for a fresh partner.

As Dick Cheney did for George W. Bush in 2000, Biden lent gravitas to this untested kid from the Chicago machine back in 2008. Obama doesn't need that or him any longer.

Obama could use some shoring up with traditional Dems (remember Hillary clocked Obama in crucial Pennsylvania and Ohio primaries in '08). A female VP would also help, especially since Republicans seem likely to have one on their 2012 ticket again.

Hillary Clinton has said no, of course. But she's drawn good marks for her foreign policy work and loyal silence at times. Obama seems to trust her. And a successful stint as VP would place her perfectly as heir apparent in 2016. Richard Benedetto makes the case well over at the daily must-read RealClearPolitics.

Remember the September 2008 Biden gaffe when he informed a town hall that Clinton would have been a better choice for Obama as VP? Everyone recalls Sarah Palin being shielded from media interviews after her early stumbles, but she actually had more media exchanges that fall than Joe after that blooper.

The Boss is off on another island vacation today. Biden has been dispatched for the next week to Asia, where his assignment is to calm America's most important creditor, China, to pay respects to a top regional ally in Tokyo and talk about something with someone in Mongolia.

As The Boss has been doing regularly with his relatives on foreign trips, Biden has taken his granddaughter Naomi along.

RELATED:

Americans downgrade Congress to historic low 13% job approval

Obama's penchant for speeches now sounding hollower by the word

On Day 938 of his presidency, Obama says he'll have a jobs plan in a month or so

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images (An Iowa protester, right, carries a sign referring to Joe Biden calling "tea party" advocates terrorists); Pool via Getty Images (Biden and granddaughter Naomi arrive in Beijing, Aug. 16)

 
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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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