Nobody Tell Joe Biden How Twitter Works

I really don’t see how this is terrible advice:

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would not recommend taking any commercial flight or riding in a subway car “at this point” because swine flu virus can spread “in confined places.” A little more than one hour later, Biden rushed out a statement backing off.

“I would tell members of my family — and I have — I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said on NBC’s “Today” show.. “It’s not that it’s going to Mexico. It’s [that] you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. …

“So, from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you’re out in the middle of a field when someone sneezes, that’s one thing. If you’re in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom, it’s a different thing.”

I understand they are trying to calm the public and tamp down the hysteria, and that Joe’s message is at odds with the big O’s statements, but I’m not sure that what he said is all that silly or stupid. If I were in a subway car and people were hacking and wheezing, I sure as hell would GTFO and find a new way to travel in the short term.

Title of this post stolen shamelessly from the comments.






71 replies
  1. 1
    jeff says:

    To be cautious for the next week to see how this shakes out would be a very good idea.

  2. 2
    Incertus says:

    With all this going around, no one is happier than I am that I just finished giving finals and so will be working from home even more than usual for the next two weeks or so. I’m shunning enclosed human contact to the greatest degree I can for precisely the reasons Joe the Biden gives.

  3. 3
    Wolfie1974 says:

    The worst thing you can do in DC is stray “off message”, even if what you say makes perfect sense.

  4. 4
    JC says:

    Sadly, I have no way to get to work other than taking two subway lines. So, I either have to risk it, or not go to work. As scary as swine flu is, I still need to get paid.

  5. 5
    Strandedvandal says:

    The ever increasingly disappointing Chuck Todd and Meriditz Veira came on afterwards, and proceeded to take everything VP Biden said and twist it around or ignore it completely. “Did he just say that no one should fly?!!!” ‘Why aren’t they closing the border with Mexico!!!” Well, you brainless monkeys, as he said, it’s because the virus is all over the place, not just Mexico. Are you going to shut down all the borders? Even Canada, cancel all incoming international flights? I swear to god these people are going to cause me to vaporlock.

  6. 6
    BombIranForChrist says:

    What is that famous quote by … dude from Slate … a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth? Is there a better example of this than Biden generally?

  7. 7
    Keith says:

    It’s a big deal because Drudge is pushing it hard. In reality, I’ve read two separate articles with tips for avoiding the flu, and both included avoiding confined, crowded spaces.
    Strangely, neither article recommended avoiding hanging around pig farms.

  8. 8
    Napoleon says:

    This is a perfect example of how the meme that Biden is somehow always sticking his foot in his mouth is overblown. It seems to me that everytime he “sticks his foot in his mouth” it is something like this, somethat that is true or harmless. It is stuff that makes you think he is actually an honest guy.

  9. 9
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    I’ll be taking the train and the subway to get back and forth to downtown LA next week. If any swine board I’m bailing at the next stop.

  10. 10
    wilfred says:

    @BombIranForChrist:

    Yes, Dick Durbin:

    And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

    He should get a medal for that.

  11. 11
    Zifnab says:

    @Keith: Yeah. I mean, he delivered it kinda ham-handedly. But this is Howard Dean Scream material. They’re going to keep tweaking the sound in the back rooms until they can make Biden sound crazy or something.

    Please try again later, when you’ve taken the teabags off your baseball caps. Then we can talk about gaffs.

  12. 12
    Libertina says:

    Caution is certainly warranted.

    Here in Texas, the Fort Worth Independent School District has closed schools for a week due to one confirmed case in a middle school and I think 4 other suspected cases.

    I have to admit, I always blow off these pandemic panics, but after seeing that on the news last night, I stand corrected and reproved.

    But people DO love picking on Biden. IMO, that’s just a case of some people enjoying trying to knock the smart guy down a peg.

  13. 13
    SGEW says:

    Ezra Klein takes a somewhat contrarian approach:

    Is Joe Biden Right About Swine Flu?

  14. 14
    Comrade Dread says:

    That this would be considered a gaffe by the village is further proof that the villagers are morans.

    It’s common sense and a natural reaction to the crisis that they and the news media have whipped up on this.

    I’ve only heard one newscast where it was mentioned that 30,000 die every year from the normal flu, so while this is all concerning, it shouldn’t turn you into an agoraphobe huddled in your house clutching your shotgun while waiting for the coming zombie hordes.

  15. 15
    omen says:

    i saw someone walking down the street the other day wearing a face mask. instead of worrying about swine flu, i wondered if that was beneficial in filtering out particulates in car exhaust. i have you seen how polluted and smoggy mexico city is?

  16. 16
    Jean King says:

    Life goes on. We all have to make a living and go to school and shop. I have no way to get to work except the subway, unless I want to pay hefty cab fares that I can’t afford. Since I am the office manager at my company, working from home on a sustained basis is not an option. And I had enough living in fear under Dick Cheney, thank you very much. I’ll continue to use the Boston T. Anyway, it’s so filthy probably not even swine flu germs could live in it.

  17. 17
    rob says:

    I agree- The man was just being honest. Why would he go on the Today show anyway, they are completely useless. I don’t give Drudge the hits but, not surprised he is blowing this waaay out of proportion

  18. 18
    omen says:

    @BombIranForChrist:

    michael kinsley.

    nice nic.

  19. 19
    valdivia says:

    there is a great webcast happening right now on swine flu with Sebelius and Napolitano. worth watching

    As someone who rides the NYC subway everyday I have to say that if I had the option to walk I would. Today on my way to work a woman came in clearly sick (with a fever–she was shaking–eyes swollen, nose running) and I wanted a mask and to ask her pointedly on what universe it is a good idea in the midst of this to go to work on the subway with the flu. So I am with Biden. some people have ZERO spatial awareness and/or common sense.

  20. 20

    This is what Biden gets for doing the morning shows. He should know better. Hell, Obama should know better.

  21. 21
    JC says:

    @Jean King: You’ve a point about the T. I feel a little better now.

  22. 22
    omen says:

    @Napoleon:

    half the stuff they list aren’t even gaffes. they count biden saying hillary would have made a better vp pick as a gaffe. that was just biden posturing false modesty.

  23. 23
    Brachiator says:

    I understand they are trying to calm the public and tamp down the hysteria, and that Joe’s message is at odds with the big O’s statements, but I’m not sure that what he said is all that silly or stupid.

    So let’s see. We live in the Age of the Intertubes. So, rather than getting into a porcine snort over whether Big Joe is bloviating or speaking truth to viral power, doesn’t it make more sense to freakin’ check what is posted on, fer instance, the CDC web site?

    What should I do to keep from getting the flu? – First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

    You are free to interpret “avoid close contact” however you like.

    Oh, and by the way, avoiding the obvious — e.g., somebody with a hacking cough — may not help.

    How can someone with the flu infect someone else? — Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

    Evolution didn’t make viruses stupid, so they don’t announce their presence before infecting someone. That would be too easy.

  24. 24
    Colette says:

    @valdivia: I had the same reaction when I sat across from someone on BART last night who was obviously feverish and ill – but I keep reminding myself that I’ve often been in a position where I simply had to go to work, no matter how ill I was. Maybe she’s in the same fix – she can’t afford to miss a day’s paycheck, or she’ll get fired, or she’s been called to pick up her sick kid from school, or she’s on her way to the doctor and has no other way to get there, yadda yadda. Genuine needs conflict, and reality sucks, and that’s why we have pandemics even when we all know what we should do.

    I’d walk, too, if I could, but walking across San Francisco Bay is beyond my limited supernatural powers.

  25. 25
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Somebody should collect all of Biden’s gaffes in one book. You could call it “Truth to Clutch Your Pearls By.”

  26. 26
    valdivia says:

    @Colette:

    I am in the same boat as you—must take public transportation–so I am getting a mask today even if people look at me like I am insane because I get some people really have to go to work when sick.

  27. 27
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Today on my way to work a woman came in clearly sick (with a fever—she was shaking—eyes swollen, nose running) and I wanted a mask and to ask her pointedly on what universe it is a good idea in the midst of this to go to work on the subway with the flu

    As a former resident of Japan, it’s rare to find someone with the flu without a mask. Love how seriously they take public health over there.

  28. 28
    sstarr says:

    I have terrible, terrible allergies to blooming grass and trees. I’m coughing and sneezing constantly this time of year. In the last few days people are starting to look at me like I’m patient 0.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t sit next to me on a bus either!

  29. 29

    I never wanted to obtain immortality through my writing.

    I wanted to obtain immortality by not dying.

  30. 30
    Martin says:

    Joe is right. One problem with this flu, as I understand it, is that you are contagious before you have major symptoms – so even someone feeling fine, who lets off the occasional sneeze could be spreading it for the day or two before real symptoms hit. The only real way to tamp down the spread of any of these is to limit the transmission opportunities. Really nasty bugs like ebola do that naturally by killing everyone before they have a chance to spread it very far, but anything that shows symptoms after it becomes contagious is a bit harder to stop.

    If you don’t want to get it, stay away from other people, and remember that surface contact can spread it. Someone sneezes, touches a railing, and you come by a few minutes later, touch the railing then rub your eyes, and you can get it. Wash your hands a lot and if you do sneeze or cough, do it into your armpit or something that you won’t go around touching things with.

  31. 31
    omen says:

    i did a quick google on anti bacterial hand gels. they’re claiming to kill viruses too. i’d have that handy too if we’re taking public transportation.

  32. 32
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Count me in the “I’m on Joe’s side” camp. I think he’s been labeled as a gaffe-master and now that meme is being relentlessly pushed. When I read what he had said, I didn’t think it was something that really needed to be parsed at all. Maybe it’s just me, but I can see the common sense in what he’s trying to say.

    Full disclosure: I have a crush on Joe Biden, so yes, it does make me biased.

  33. 33
    valdivia says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    exactly–I would feel more comfortable if everyone in the packed rush hour subway cars had a mask at least until we know what the hell is going on.

  34. 34
    JL says:

    The CDC is having an online discussion..
    Sebelius is sorta holding her own but refers to Dr. Besser from the CDC a lot.

  35. 35
    John D. says:

    @omen: If they are claiming that, they are lying.

    There is no broad-spectrum antiviral product in existence. What these gels, soaps, and washes do it REMOVE the viral particles from your skin and wash them down the drain.

  36. 36
    JL says:

    Halperin once again defers to The View in explaining Joe’s gaffes. IMO Joe answered a question about his own family in a way that is not different than most would answer the same question. He is the Vice President but he is also a proud father.

  37. 37
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    Joe from Lowell:

    LOL That’s an old Woody Allen line. I never forgot it, and I first heard it in the ’70s.

  38. 38
    Martin says:

    Sebelius is sorta holding her own but refers to Dr. Besser from the CDC a lot.

    You realize she’s only had the job for less than 48 hours.

  39. 39
    Indylib says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    As a former resident of Japan, it’s rare to find someone with the flu without a mask. Love how seriously they take public health over there.

    This is true. My daughter and I never got sick when we lived in Japan. It was a pretty healthy environment until until a new ship from the states would get transferred to the base and the new crew would bring a whole host of home-grown germs with them.

    Shawn, what part of Japan did you live in?

  40. 40
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Whopper of a new ABC/WaPo poll:

    A slight majority of americans now support civil unions, 49% to 46%

    May you live in interesting times

  41. 41
    Karen says:

    Biden’s comments made sense. Why take a bigger chance on infecting yourself with God only knows what. That doesn’t make any sense.

    I was asked this morning how I would handle sending plumbers into someone’s house now, if they sounded sick on the phone. My answer was: See what’s wrong with them & if need be, refuse to send anyone. 2 years ago, all 3 of us had the flu at the same time because a customer had to be in her rental while they installed a water heater. She had the flu. We don’t want to do that again. Especially not now.

    And if the plumbers are sick, I won’t send them out. Common curtesy.

  42. 42
    someguy says:

    If a Republican said that I’d worry about it being irresponsible or fearmongering, but Biden’s motives are good so he’s probably just telling it to us straight.

    Sebelius is sorta holding her own but refers to Dr. Besser from the CDC a lot.

    I know I agree with her politics but her medical credentials are probably a bit shaky, to tell the truth. I would rather that she refer to the experts, than, y’know, rely on her credentials as a state legislator or insurance commissioner or governor to make judgments. But that’s just me. Her politics are good so if you want to rely on her diagnosis and prescription for your cough, please feel free…

  43. 43
    JL says:

    @Martin: She is doing quite a good job. She messed up the name of Tamiflu but that is about it.
    The question and answers are quite good. The incubation period is about a week from first exposure, if you wear a mask, it should be sized properly and there are no signs that the flu can spread to pets. Moxie is safe.
    Dr. Besser did say something bothersome. In the spring of 1918 the flu appeared in a fairly mild form and then reappeared in it’s deadly form in the fall. I haven’t read enough about the flu in 1918 to realize that it started in the spring. That is why they are trying to develop a vaccine fairly quickly.

  44. 44
    omen says:

    @John D.:

    kill, remove, whatever. if you feel better with soiled hands, have at it.

  45. 45
    oh really says:

    At times like this, for example when a pandemic may be emerging, it is important to gag Biden and hide him in a basement as far from the media as possible. The likelihood (a virtual certainty) that he will create a problem outweighs the remote possibility that he might say something helpful by many orders of magnitude.

    Biden was the first is a lengthening line of poor Obama personnel choices. Now, having created the problem, Obama needs to control it. And that isn’t possible if Biden is allowed to speak to an audience greater than zero. He is at his most effective when he is the only person who can hear him talk.

  46. 46
    omen says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    via jusiper:

    NJ voters for gay marriage 49-43

    Which kind of switches the usual political dynamics around. Maybe this time unpopular Democrats use this issue as a way to rebrand Republican white knight candidacies by reminding voters of the party’s culturally unpopular stances.

  47. 47
    Bill Teefy says:

    @Martin: You could also add that being the head doesn’t mean being the expert. I love it when a manager or director gets out of the way and lets the staff or developer explain the technical stuff. There job is to make the team better not to look smart.

    During the Bush years it was always the spokes-model, glad-hander or booth-bunny that did the talking.

  48. 48
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @omen:

    Maybe this time unpopular Democrats use this issue as a way to rebrand Republican white knight candidacies by reminding voters of the party’s culturally unpopular stances.

    One can only hope.

  49. 49
    Bill Teefy says:

    @oh really: I do miss Dick Cheney.

  50. 50

    What’s wrong with what he said? Sure, it might be a bit extreme, but he’s talking about his own family. If I had to fly or take public transportation, I’d probably still do it, but I’d be wearing a mask. And, like always, washing my hands with OCD-level frequency.

  51. 51
    Craig says:

    Biden’s comments are a complete overreach based upon the current facts. Hell, 36,000 die in the U.S. each year from the “common” flu!! You don’t need the VP telling the Country to avoid any enclosed space (cars, classrooms???).

    The fact that he has oversight over the stimulus spending should make people ill enough!

  52. 52
    Adrienne says:

    Sadly, I have no way to get to work other than taking two subway lines. So, I either have to risk it, or not go to work. As scary as swine flu is, I still need to get paid.

    Ditto. Because the only thing worse than getting swine flu would be getting the swine flu when you’re broke with no health insurance.

  53. 53
    WMass says:

    @omen: I think you need the alcohol-based sanitizers to kill viruses. I was just looking at mine, and it is Benzethonium Chloride, death to bacteria but probably not to viruses. Booze kills everything. And those flimsy cloth masks are almost useless, you need an N95 mask, usually with a metal strip across the nose which can be bent into shape. A lot of people have these for sanding. I was tempted to wear one in the grocery store yesterday, but thought it might be a little paranoid. Today I’m not so sure. If nothing else I’m taking my own mat to yoga from now on.

  54. 54
    JK says:

    Biden was long ago branded a gaffe machine by the MSM so they’ll never give him the benefit of the doubt even if his statements are only borderline stupid.

    Whatever assets Biden brings to the table, I hope Obama has a shortlist of replacements for VP when he seeks re-election.

    If every sentence Biden utters for the next 4 years will be parsed thru an electron microscope, White House advisers will have many headaches trying to clean up after every mess he makes.

    In 4 years, Biden will be 70 years old. For the good of the Democratic Party, I hope Obama pulls Joe aside and persuades him to get off the ticket before the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear.

  55. 55

    If people in America replace 50,000,000 miles of air, bus, and rail travel with 50,000,000 miles of much-more-dangerous car travel over the next two months because they’re afraid to be inside conveyances with other people, it will cause unnecessary deaths.

    Overreactions come at a cost.

  56. 56
    WMass says:

    Sorry, it turns out that Benzethonium Chloride is effective against viruses. Apologies.

  57. 57
    someguy says:

    She messed up the name of Tamiflu

    Easy mistake to make when you’re new on the job. Not exactly the Hoot Smalley of gaffes.

  58. 58
    slag says:

    OT: Ross Douthat just put up a post at the Atlantic suggesting that Obama should be thanking GW for the big sh*tpile he left us: http://politics.theatlantic.co.....f_bush.php. Pathological.

    PS I actually like Joe Biden, but he does need to stop stepping on BO’s lines. No, he didn’t say anything crazy, but since when has that mattered to the MSM before? It’s really getting annoying.

  59. 59
    Trollhattan says:

    I’ve ditched light rail for carpooling for the time being because some of the confirmed cases are in my metro area.

    Once they determine how contagious this really is I’ll rethink it. In the meantime, I’m pretty much in the Biden camp here.

  60. 60
    Blue Raven says:

    @WMass:

    Sorry, it turns out that Benzethonium Chloride is effective against viruses. Apologies.

    That and alcohol are the two to trust. Anything else and you’re wasting your dollar.

  61. 61
    CobbleHill_PITA says:

    It’s easy to say “don’t get on subways” when you don’t live in New York, but for most of us, it’s the only way to get to work everyday. The population density of New York is way too high for everyone to take a cab or drive and park and many of us live in one borough and work in another, so walking isn’t an option.

    Secondly, part of living in New York is having a certain amount of fatalism about these things. I take the “F” train from Brooklyn to Manhattan where I breathe the same air with people from all over the world, in all states of health, for forty minutes a day.

    Rarely do I see a cop either, so if a terrorist wanted to blow my train up or unleash a bio or chemical attack, there isn’t much to stop them. It was just last November we were told not to ride the subway because the FBI intercepted a terrorist plot to do something to it. Remember?

    I think porcine flu is a concern, even more so if you have secondary risks (elderly, immunosuppressed, etc.) but the cases have been mild for native born Americans so far. Outside of Mexico (or a Mexican who came to Houston) everyone who has contracted it has recovered, most without medical intervention, and the fact is that 100 people die of normal flu every single day.

    I have friends who honestly believe that porcine flu is 100% fatal unless they get Tamiflu in time, which is some miracle drug. Both beliefs are completely wrong. I blame the media and Hollywood movies like “Outbreak” for sowing confusion.

    But Biden (who I respect otherwise) isn’t helping here.

  62. 62
    omen says:

    @John D.:

    sorry, john d., that was probably unnecessary snark.

  63. 63
    Brachiator says:

    @oh really:

    At times like this, for example when a pandemic may be emerging…

    Or not emerging. Anybody with a crystal ball or other implement with which to predict the future?

    Biden was the first is a lengthening line of poor Obama personnel choices. Now, having created the problem, Obama needs to control it. And that isn’t possible if Biden is allowed to speak to an audience greater than zero. He is at his most effective when he is the only person who can hear him talk.

    Biden ain’t the Surgeon General, head of CDC, a doctor or a scientist.

    So the only question that remains is how long this non-story will have continue to have any kind of legs.

  64. 64
    Craig says:

    “If every sentence Biden utters for the next 4 years will be parsed thru an electron microscope…”

    If only his remarks were actually that nuanced.

  65. 65

    If every sentence Biden utters for the next 4 years will be parsed thru an electron microscope, White House advisers will have many headaches trying to clean up after every mess he makes.

    The American public tolerated George W. Bush in the top spot for eight years, whose gaffes betrayed a clear lack of understanding. My guess is that they’ll be fine, if not pleasantly amused, by Biden as Veep.

  66. 66
    Spazman says:

    I understand they are trying to calm the public and tamp down the hysteria, and that Joe’s message is at odds with the big O’s statements, but I’m not sure that what he said is all that silly or stupid

    That’s because you are partisan. Obama had a good take on what bipartisan means last night. Partisan is believing every thing your side (Democrats in this case) does is good and never bad, and everything the other side does is bad and never good. When you’re partisan, you minimize mistakes your side makes, as you’re doing here.

    It wasn’t a huge gaffe, but what Biden said in the manner he said will make those inclined to panic actually panic and will probably hurt the airline industry, something the economy doesn’t need.

  67. 67
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I’m one of those literally poor slobs who *has* to take public transportation. Lets face it, if everyone stopped taking public transportation (like BART, Caltrain and MUNI here in the Bay Area) things would go into the shitter pretty quickly; Biden’s advice makes sense for those who are privileged enough to be able to telecommute, or take time off from their jobs, but the rest of us? We live on different planets or something.

  68. 68
    TenguPhule says:

    This is what Biden gets for doing the morning shows. He should know better. Hell, Obama should know better.

    The wingman is there to distract fire from the leader.

  69. 69
    Dave_Violence says:

    If every sentence Biden utters for the next 4 years will be parsed thru an electron microscope, White House advisers will have many headaches trying to clean up after every mess he makes.

    Shoe on other foot, bitch.

    Biden’s preaching hysteria and thus he’s taking heat for it. What he should be doing is telling the country that he listens to his doctors and that’s all.

  70. 70
    Glen says:

    A few thoughts here. (1) People are twitchy enough about forces beyond their control (e.g., banks); rattling ’em with a truly invisible monster may not a good idea. (2) I’ve seen people wearing surgical masks where I work, in the Financial District of NYC.

    (3) I’ve smoked for more than 30 years, and I cough a bit (not the horrendous hacking kind; a bit, once in a while). When I feel an urge, I can’t help thinking, “Oh shit! I’m gonna clear out this elevator really fast!”

  71. 71

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