A spokeswoman from the Obama campaign defended Biden's remarks, saying there was "no problem" with the accusation. "For months, Speaker Boehner, Congressman Ryan, and other Republicans have called for the 'unshackling' of the private sector from regulations that protect Americans from risky financial deals and other reckless behavior that crashed our economy," said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "Since then, the Vice President has often used a similar metaphor to describe the need to 'unshackle' the middle class.The use of shackling metaphors is thus quid pro quo, she suggests, as though there were no difference between metaphors of shackling and unshackling. The American mission, though, is built on the very clear difference between the two.
The second fact about the remarks that shows they were pre-planned and intentional is the delivery. Listen to Mr. Biden's delivery. He's just talking at the start, but as soon as he gets to "Unchain Wall Street," he adopts a form that is intended to mimic the feel of gospel church. The following remark is thus framed.
The thing is, if you left off the subtext created by the remarks and the inflection, Mr. Biden is making a point with which I'd be prone to agree. I do want to see Wall Street more carefully monitored and controlled. I do think it's important that the banks be subject to more regulation and oversight. Of course, his administration has been horrible on the subject, but the Romney campaign leads me to believe they would certainly be no better.
The problem with the remarks from a rhetorical perspective, then, is that they poison a legitimate argument with which even your opponents might agree. This is traded for a moment of race-baiting. It's one thing to race-bait when you have nothing else to say -- it's unconscionable, but nevertheless common as a political and rhetorical tactic -- but usually if you have a good argument, you'd press the argument.
I suppose we have to read this as an admission of failure, then. Even here, where ideologically they ought to be on strong ground, the truth is they've done nothing on which they might run. They have no accomplishments to back up their rhetoric, so they must refer us away from an examination of their record.
By the way, these remarks were delivered in Danville, Virginia. That was the town the Old 97 never reached.