The Weekly Standard drew attention Thursday to video of Vice President Biden discussing the outsourcing of call centers and briefly adopting a badly executed Indian* accent. "How many times do you get the call, 'I'd like to talk to you about your credit card'?," the Vice President asked.
The Standard's Daniel Harper says it's "not the first time Biden has made bizarre and inappropriate comments about Indians" recalling the 2006 incident where Biden said, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts [in Delaware] unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." We admit, we had to watch this video a few times to make certain Biden was actually putting on an accent of any kind, and it seems he is, though he drops it by the time he gets about three words into the sentence, perhaps realizing it might be cause for concern. We're also not sure this is the slam-dunk example of "bizarre and inappropriate" comments from Biden. National Journal's Theresa Poulson earnestly asks, "Should we be offended by Vice President Joe Biden today?" Our gut instinct is, no, if you have to ask, you're probably not very offended. But then maybe Indians or Indian-Americans (Update: Or anyone else who takes issue with it, of course!) will make the case that it is offensive or caricatures them. We suspect that even if or until they do, this isn't quite the scandal The Standard might be looking for.
* New York Magazine's Dan Amira makes a semi-convincing case that Biden's accent could be Russian, based on his reference just after the remark to an old commercial featuring a Russian call center, and perhaps it is. But if you watch the whole speech, given Thursday in New Hampshire, Biden, still discussing call-center outsourcing, mentions a company that announced that they're opening a call center "In Denison, Texas not Bangalore, India." So that seems like evidence he had India on his mind. We altered the language from the original post a bit to reflect that ambiguity. Either way, Amira's larger point seems to be that if Biden were imitating a Russian, there probably wouldn't be much furor at all. (And therefore, there shouldn't be any now.) That seems sound, again, unless the Russian community can make a case that they are offended by it, which just feels so very unlikely.