Dems used to look like Joe Biden.

Listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, August 20, 2012.

I wish Democrats still looked like Joe Biden.

Joe Biden is a nice man from all appearances. Sure, he says unbelievably silly things at the most toweringly inopportune moments and he apparently believes much of the twaddle that comes from his mouth to the effect that poor people are poor because rich people are rich.

But Joe Biden is simply wrong. He’s not crazy. And that makes him unlike a very large percentage of the delegates and guests that I saw at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC last week.

Between seeing hundreds of women wearing buttons bearing the inscription “Sluts Vote” and listening as over half the assembly booed because a single mention of God was returned to the party’s campaign platform, I became convinced that the Democratic Party has at last fully and irrevocably slipped its moorings.

It wasn’t always so.

Democrats used to look like Joe Biden. I remember them. They were in my parents’ Sunday School class. The lived next door. I played astronaut with their kids in cardboard boxes that once contained washing machines.

The Joe Biden-Democrats of my youth got out of bed and went to work every morning just like my father and mother did. They got married and pretty much stayed married, just like my father and mother.

Mr. Urbach, the Democrat who lived three doors down, was an Army veteran just like my dad. My dad called on carpet and furniture stores selling for Evans-Black Carpet Mills. Mr. Urbach called on doctors offices and hospitals selling for a medical equipment company.

My father paid his bills on time. Mr. Urbach did the same.

Mr. Urbach required that his two sons speak to adults using “sir” and “ma’am” just as my father did.

The Urbach family got up on Sunday morning and went to First Baptist Church. My family got up and went to Polk Street Methodist.

When the five contiguous neighbor dads got together and decided that it made sense to build backyard fences all at once, sharing tools, expertise and labor, Mr. Urbach was a part of the project that fenced five backyards in just three weekends. Mrs. Urbach contributed something to the potluck food extravaganza that capped the project completion just as my mom did.

It would have never occurred to Mr. & Mrs. Urbach that they were entitled to anything “free” from the government. Mr. Urbach fully understood that he had to do his job well and provide his employer a good day’s effort for the money he received in order to put food on the Urbach family table.

Mr. Urbach was a Democrat and put an LBJ sign in his yard about which my father and mother tut-tutted disapprovingly. But Mr. Urbach was not militant, unkind or vulgar in his politics and he and my parents exchanged pleasantries regularly and counted one another as good neighbors.

Joe Biden, for all his goofiness, strikes me as much the same. I believe that when it comes to his own life and his own children and his own finances, Joe Biden lives as a conservative. I wouldn’t presume to ask about his and wife Jill’s sexual relationship, but I’d bet anything that they paid for whatever birth control they ever used out of their own pockets and didn’t feel ill-used in the bargain.

I believe that you could sit down with Joe Biden, over a cup of coffee and away from the glare of the media, and discuss the proper size and role of government without the discussion degenerating immediately into a profanity-laced ad hominem attack.

I don’t know Joe Biden. He may be nothing like how he appears. But he looks like he is a decent, respectful and more or less normal mainstream American man and that’s what Democrats used to look like.

The biggest thing that struck me after attending both conventions over the past two weeks is that Republicans as a group still pretty much look like the Republicans of my youth but the Democrats, as I observed in the stream of militant feminists, militant gays, angry minorities, union thugs, government employees, left-wing academics and overdone Hollywood starlets that walked by, look nothing like Joe Biden.

Which means they look nothing like Mr. Urbach, our neighbor of three doors down.

Which is too bad. Because Mr. Urbach was a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good neighbor and a hard worker.

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