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CloseReading: Are Joe Biden's "Gaffes" Accidental? Or Brilliant?

By       Message Russ Baker     Permalink
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'"Today has focused attention and enthusiasm in an almost cathartic way,' said Andrew Tobias, treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and a top bundler for Obama. 'Within minutes, people were calling with their credit cards. They're thrilled.'

"One donor pledged $10,000 and decided at the last minute to fly with his partner from Los Angeles to attend an Obama fundraiser in New York on Monday headlined by the singer Ricky Martin, Tobias said.


'"I think for people who were holding back, who were disappointed in the president's position, that this would remove a barrier,' said Jeff Soref, an Obama fundraiser and a former chairman of the LGBT caucus at the DNC. He raised about $120,000 for Obama for an event in New York last year.

"'There were people who thought this position on marriage equality was a litmus test and they were either holding back, or were very modest in their contributions,' Soref said. '"It's silly to pretend that it didn't make a difference to people. I think it did. ... People weren't clear where the president stood. Now they are.'

"Obama's decision is likely to trigger major demand for tickets to a June 6 fundraising LGBT gala in Los Angeles featuring the singer Pink."

And then a quiet effort began to convince black voters, many of them religious and socially conservative, that gay marriage had to be considered a right just as those for which blacks fought so long.

It's a win-win. With these two incidents, Biden first satisfies the gay constituency and brings in the money, then he alerts the African-American populace that, even if it isn't sufficiently exercised or enthusiastic about Obama at this point, the alternative is far worse. The "chains" metaphor isn't really inapt when one considers the tremendous burden placed on working class Americans by the financial institutions whose behavior causes so much duress and grief. And by invoking language that has powerful emotional resonance with a particular audience, he pushes exactly the right buttons with Obama's core. This is exactly the kind of memorable thing that makes people come out to vote.

And there's probably little down-side. It's unlikely that many swing voters will tilt to Romney because of what Biden said.

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Using Biden in this fashion shows just how smart and effective at p.r. and spin the Obama team is. It's the new, improved Democrats, having learned more than a few lessons since the days when the Reagan team ruled and the opposition cowered.

Thanks to these events, Obama and Biden now have enough money to compete, and if Biden can mobilize a strong black turnout in swing states -- and most of the swing states have large black populations -- they're in.

The media either doesn't get how this works, or is reticent to spell it out. Either way, the latest Biden BooBoo is yet another example of how the public is the last to understand what is going on -- and how it continues responding, on cue, to manipulation...not substance.

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