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How Biden's 'Shylocks' And 'Orient' Gaffes Played Out

Vice President Joe Biden furthered a favorite media narrative when, in one day, he made two verbal gaffes.
Posted at 8:29 AM, Sep 18, 2014

Reporters love a narrative.

In this case — the protagonist of that narrative is Vice President Joe Biden, who plays the bumbling, gaffe-prone uncle. 

So earlier this week — Biden publicly used the word "Shylocks" in reference to aggressive moneylenders. (Video via Fox Business)

But it's a term considered anti-Semitic, a reference to a ruthless Jewish lender in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice." 

And it might not have gotten as much attention as it did if this hadn't happened that same day:

BIDEN: "I stopped in Singapore to meet with a guy named Lee Kwan Yu, who most foreign policy experts say is the wisest man in the Orient." (Video via YouTube / GOPrapidresponse)

Many consider "shylock" and "Orient" politically-incorrect terms, so predictably, there was some offense taken. Biden already apologized for the former, and the latter got much less attention but nonetheless got coverage because it fit into that narrative we've been referencing. 

WFXT: "Remember, he is second in command. Next in line to be the president but not once but twice used — he gaffed like that."

But the real reason anyone might care is:

ABC: "Vice President Joe Biden is raising speculation about a 2016 run for the White House."

So there are politics at play here — in fact, you might have noticed the source of that "Orient" gaffe video we played earlier was the Republican Party. And as more evidence of the politics, in exploring what to make of it, MSNBC invited none other than a former Biden staffer to offer this take:

ROBERT HOOPES, VIA MSNBC: "I think Biden's authenticity, Biden's sincerity, actually make him highly desirable candidate and a highly desirable part of the American government."

In any case — expect these latest choice bites to make an appearance in one of the many, many Joe Biden gaffe compilations on YouTube.

This video contains images from Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla and Emory University / Sir John Gilbert.