Lets “get some of the facts” straight: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are not friends. They do not hang out on the weekends. They don’t “do lunch.” And they certainly do not work out at the gym every day together. Yet, for some reason, Vice President Biden referred to Representative Ryan as “my friend” twelve times during the debate. Few other words were used as frequently. He called Governor Romney “Governor Romney,” and President Obama “President Obama,” yet the man sitting next to him was referred to only as “his friend.”
Obviously, word choice is crucial. You’ll notice that Republicans shy away from referring to Obama as just “the President.” Similarly, Democrats usually refer to the Republican candidate by just his last name. Even in tonight’s debate, the moderator, at one point, referred to Congressman Ryan as just “Mr. Ryan.” Using official titles like “President” and “Vice President,” while more formal, also assumes more legitimacy of the person.
In 2008, there was controversy over the “that one,” a phrase Senator McCain used to refer to Barack Obama. At the time, this was referred to as “dehumanizing.” Most believed that it reflected Senator McCain’s true feelings about then-Senator Obama.
Few would argue that Biden’s use of “friend” shows his actual feelings towards Ryan. Perhaps in an effort to seem more personable and bipartisan, he decided to turn the 2008 “that one” upside down. Unfortunately, it seems to have had the opposite effect. Vice President Biden rarely seemed warm or comfortable talking about his “friend.” Instead, he projected anger in his expressions, making use of the word “friend” to seem totally out of place. And this happened twelve times.
I can’t help but wonder what the Vice President was going for here — or if it was merely a mistake. I can say this, though, if I were one of Representative Ryan’s actual friends, I might be offended at how liberally the term was used (pun intended).