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Biden brouhaha: Liar, liar, pants on fire?

April 10, 2009 | 10:24 am

Being vice president means never having to say you’re sorry.

Of course, being unapologetic puts a vice president right in the crosshairs of the old bird gun, as Vice President Joe Biden is learning the hard way.

Biden and his predecessor Dick Cheney – each known for being his master’s voice, albeit in different ways -- tussled as only political pit bulls can. Then Biden turned his aim at the silent one himself, former President George W. Bush, who has been gracious and careful not to speak publicly about his successor, Barack Obama.

In an interview with CNN, Biden, who has been blessed with a mouth large enough to accommodate any hoof, recounted an encounter with the former president.

“I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office,” said Biden who strayed off the reservation to note, “He was a great guy, I enjoyed being with him.”

Having established they were friendly, Biden went on to quote Bush as saying: “‘Joe, I’m a leader.’ I said ‘Mr. President, turn around and look behind you, no one’s following.’” 

An anecdote good enough to dine out on and, given these hyper-partisan times, good enough to become what passes for news.

As befitting the former leader of the free world, Bush has donned the shroud of silence. As happened so often in his eight years of the White House, Karl Rove leaped for the throat.

“He never said these kind of things,” Rove said in an interview with Fox News. “I hate to say it,” Rove said of Biden, “he’s a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind, I’d say he was a liar. It is a habit he ought to drop.” 

Now if you think Rove really hated to say what he did, well, golly gee whiz, there is a bridge over New York’s East River that I can sell you without even putting a dent in the recently enacted infrastructure stimulus package.

So what is going on?

It would be easy to blame this on competing cable networks trying to scratch out ratings during a down holiday season. But that would be cheap, easy and probably wrong. Well, two out of three isn’t all that bad.

Still, the Democrats have been nasty about the GOP since taking over and the former would certainly argue that the latter have earned it.

The White House promoted Rush Limbaugh as the real head of the GOP; Dems have beaten up congressional Republicans for being unable to present a coherent budget; and they have taken Cheney to task for being nasty about Obama’s security efforts.

In fairness, Republicans have tried to retaliate, especially when it comes to protecting the tattered legacy of Bush.

After all as both sides know, it is the winners who get to write history. You betcha, mister.

--- Michael Muskal