Reading Biden Talmudically

Posted on May 6, 2009 In Blog

We reacted yesterday to the headlines generated by Joe Biden’s speech at AIPAC which keyed off the Vice President’s statements about the peace process.

We’ve been fascinated though by several commentators who have sought to parse the loquacious Veep’s words so closely, you would think they were medieval rabbis commenting on a talmudic text. Shmuel Rosner (endorsed by Jeffery Goldberg who, by the way, posts a fine interview with Shimon Peres, reads Biden’s words to “have no meaning”, while Dan Gilgoff thinks Biden was oh so carefully trying to attract pro-Israel Christians away from the GOP.

To us, this all seems too much. The Vice President deviated from his prepared text many times in the course of his address; the White House, even if it wanted to, cannot control what the Vice President says nor precisely how he says it; and even when the Obama team was trying its hardest to speak definitively at AIPAC, they made mistakes.

Biden’s speech should be understood in the broad, obvious terms it offers on its face: the Administration is committed to Israel’s security, thinks the “two state-solution” is a means that serves that goal and will be working to pursue that means through making demands of the Israelis and Palestinians and other Arab nations, is opposed to Iran obtaining nukes and will be working to avert that catastrophe. While the devil on all these points is certainly in the details, on Vice President Biden’s speech, all the rest is commentary.