On the Nose: Gail Collins on Joe the Canary

In this morning’s New York Times column “Joe Biden, the Flue, and You”, Gail Collins describes Biden’s role quite well:

The swine flu scare has made it clear why Barack Obama picked Joe Biden for vice president.

As the White House’s unfiltered talking head, Biden is the perfect warning bell to show the White House when things are veering out of control. A kind of mental canary in the governmental mine shaft.

Obama is too cool to panic about anything. The best he can do is look unhappy when someone around him misbehaves too much (see: Joe Biden makes fun of Chief Justice Robert). Then he purses his lips together like Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” and everyone shakes and shivers. Biden, on the other hand, is totally uncool (like totally, man) and more like school officials closing down schools because someone in an adjoining state coughs a time or two. He could at least be funny like my mother who apparently had good time making her own flu mask, which she put on just as my father returned from work. At least she told me it was a flu mask. I hope it wasn’t some new “game” (ahem) that my parents are playing now that mom is retired….oh dear. I’d prefer to think about swine flu.

On the Nose: Gail Collins on the Myth of Republican “Austerity”

All jokes about Govern Jindal’s Kennethesque speech aside, Gail Collins poses an important question:

Louisiana has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana. Which is fine, as long as we don’t have to hear their governors bragging about how the folks who elected them want to keep their tax money to themselves. Of course they do! That’s because they’re living off ours.

Her op-ed piece “The Dead Tree Theory” makes smart observations about the “wasteful spending” Republicans so like to point in debates about the budget.