When you think about it, the amount of attention Joe Biden got for going to Costco Thursday seems a little much: The vice-president was giving a post-election stump speech in a store that has 447 locations in this country. So why is it such a big deal when Biden does normal-people things? We have a couple theories. One is that reporters are terrible snobs who fetishize the white working class and have the teeniest bit of condescension towards Biden, who seems to come from that class, compared to, say, Jon Huntsman, who most certainly does not come from that class and does not get the weird coverage when he poses with guns or whatever. Two is that in an age when the primary analysis of any social interaction is whether or not it is "awkward," Biden is somehow able to seem completely lacking in self-consciousness or anxiety, even as cameras capture him nuzzling female strangers.
Take, for example, these two images from September 16, 2008, when Biden was hanging out in the cafe car on an Amtrak train. It looks like we've caught an unguarded private moment between Biden and a woman working on the train in this photo...
...but from a photo taken from the same car at about the same time, we can see Biden knew full we'll every movement was being recorded.
So here he is, making friends at Costco November 29.
Only in a few shots can you see just how many people were recording Biden as he, for example, looks at pies.
Seriously, how does he do that? How does he pretend to be sincerely looking at pies under the glare of 15 iPhones?
Have you seen Jawbreaker? The 1999 movie was of the Mean Girls genre, except there's an accidental killing. In one scene, the cool girls are explaining to the new girl how one maintains one's social status through strategic cafeteria seating. "I mean, food's cool and all. It tastes good and you need it to live, but the mere act of eating involves thoughts of digestion, flatulation, defecation, even, shall we say, complexion defection," a cool girl says. So they never eat in public. Biden has no fear of eating in public.
In Durham, North Carolina, March 18, 2010.
In Philadelphia April 9, 2010.
In Columbus, Ohio, January 12.
He shows none of the hesitation and self-consciousness that even natural politician Rick Perry shows when asked to eat eggs on a stick in August 2011.
Unlike many past politicians, Biden is able to avoid admitting how fake a big fat fake photo op is. "I accept your nomination, and whatever," Bob Dole said in 1996. "I'm sort of a prop in the campaign," President Obama said before the election. Not Biden. He's somehow able to convey surprise and wonder at Costco's books selection as he allegedly shops for presents.
(Photos via Associated Press.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.