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November 30th, 2012
04:03 PM ET

Letters to the President #1411: 'Mr. Biden goes to the store'

Reporter's Note: The White House often seems twitchy about the subject of Vice President Joe Biden, especially since he rather famously strays from the talking points now and then.  But in today’s letter, I note the Veep may have a few lessons from which the president could learn a thing or two.

Dear Mr. President,

I noticed Joe Biden was off doing a little Christmas shopping at a new Costco here in D.C., and I must say it was entertaining.  I know that you fancy yourself a great communicator, but let me tell you Biden is just a natural when it comes to connecting with folks one on one.  There he was slapping other shoppers on the back, tasting the free samples, scrutinizing prices; looked totally like a local city council member picking up supplies for a tailgate party.

Now, I’m not so naïve as to think this was anything other than a carefully orchestrated photo op.  Heck, I pretty much assume anything involving a politician in this town is a photo op.  But some are more successful than others, and when it comes to selling that whole “common man” routine that you big time politicos love so much, I don’t think Biden can be beaten.

And while I know it probably sounds like blasphemy, you could learn a thing or two from him.

To be honest, you often seem…well, ill at ease when you are out among regular folks.  That’s odd because I would assume in your “community organizer” days that you spent a lot of time hanging out with people who worked for a living.  Now, however, you often look as if you don’t know quite what to say or do; like you’ve never really been in the company of middle class folks despite all of your talk about them; and like you’re acting the part of a caring leader instead of actually being one.

Mind you, I am not accusing you of not caring or anything like that.  I’m just talking about appearances.  In a nutshell: Biden looks comfortable among working folks, and you most often don’t.

So the next time he takes off on a shopping trip you might want to tag along.  Watch how he talks to people and engages with his surroundings.  Notice how he seems to have precious little concern about image or whether he comes off as smart.  I realize you’ll never run for another office in your life, so I’m not suggesting this for purposes of campaigning, but rather as a matter of leadership.  In my experience, people are most comfortable with leaders who are, in turn, comfortable with them.

Give it a whirl.  And give me a call if you can.

Regards,
Tom

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