Monday, July 13, 2009

Hey Joe

There they sat, sprawled across a simple table, all the necessities and the weighty burdens of the human condition in the 21st century.

Three BlackBerrys and a Bluetooth. A small tape recorder and a pair of extra batteries. A laptop computer, a ring of keys, and a fistful of coins bearing the faces of U.S. presidents.

Each was scrutinized by a security force charged with protecting the vice president during his visit to the Shenendehowa High School gym on Thursday.

A crowd of about 600 people came to listen to Joe Biden speak about the country's road to recovery and, in the process, perhaps be lucky enough to catch one of his infamous gaffes. Maybe something in regard to the war on terror or, possibly, the swine flu.

Accompanying Biden on his visit to Saratoga County was a series of sights rarely seen in this region.

There was the blue and white airplane emblazoned across its side with the title of the United States of America that taxied in to the Albany International Airport. There was the motorcade of black limousines that sped up the Northway with a gold-fringed American flag attached to the front of the vice president"™s car. There were the Secret Service agents traipsing across the roof of the high school gymnasium, on patrol.

Then there was the vice president himself, who spoke about the money that is coming to ease the burdens of a wounded economy and the effect it will have on the jobless workers who will once again be able to sit with their families at the dining room table with "a little bit of their dignity" restored.

"They can look at their child and say, "˜Honey, it's going to be OK,'" Biden said, during the middle segment of a 30-minute speech that may have come off like cheesy political language, had it not rung so true to what is, for some, truly a desperate time.

"Too many moms and dads have had to make the longest walk in the world, up a short flight of stairs and walk into their child"™s bedroom and say, "˜Honey, I lost my job,'" he said, his voice darkening, a hush draping over the crowd.

""We're about to lose the house. You're not going to be able to go back to Shen next year. We're going to have to move."

He paused.

"My dad made that walk, when I was a kid. Too many people have had to make that walk. A job. A job. A job," he whispered. "It means you don"™t have to make that walk."

The crowd of about 600 people who came to listen to Joe Biden speak about the country's road to recovery were not lucky enough to catch one of his infamous gaffes on this day.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there's a lot at stake," the vice president told them.

On this day, they got something else.

published in The Post-Star 7.11.09
words by Saratoga Bureau writer Thomas Dimopoulos
photo by Post-Star photographer T.J. Hooker