The XX Factor

Joe Biden Wishes Barack Obama a Happy Birthday by Tweeting a Photo of Friendship Bracelets

When wading into the waters of the public happy-birthday message, it’s ideal to do something that reflects your relationship with the recipient. For President Obama’s 55th birthday Thursday, his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, went with a sweet Instagram missive, a shot of the two sharing a private laugh in formalwear, accompanied by a lovey-dovey message, “55 years young and that smile still gets me every single day.” Endearing, aw-inducing, and an appropriate sentiment for a wife to express to her husband of many years who just happens to be the president.

So how did Vice President Joe Biden choose to mark the occasion, Biden being Obama’s bro, his rock, his attack dog who stands behind him and looks menacing when necessary? He tweeted a photo of two friendship bracelets, one spelling out Joe in beads, the other reading Barack, with the words, “Happy 55th, Barack! A brother to me, a best friend forever.”

(Enjoy these last few months of owning the @VP handle, Biden, until Tim Kaine turns the account into a repository of harmonica videos.)

Friendship bracelets, BFFs? We ‘90s kids on the internet live for this kind of crap. The tweet quickly became Biden’s most-retweeted-ever tweet, with more than 100,000 retweets at last glance, a fact Twitter headquarters was more than happy to trumpet in an email to reporters. The bracelets originate from a video President Obama made for BuzzFeed earlier this summer encouraging viewers to register to vote. It’s fun to imagine Biden screenshotting the bracelets at the time, adding them to his “Memes to Deploy Later” folder on his desktop, and patting himself on the back for a job well done. Bam! Obama’s birthday gift, taken care of, he no doubt thought to himself, which will probably result in some minor embarrassment at whatever small birthday gathering the president has this evening, when Jill Biden has to explain to her husband that no, a photo of some bracelets does not absolve the vice president of having to buy an actual gift.

Strictly speaking, friendship bracelets is a charitable description, since they look more like simple braids than the complicated knotting it takes to make the traditional summer camp craft. Nevertheless, they do help paint a picture of an idyllic postpresidency in which Obama and Biden ride off into the proverbial sunset together, a girlier spin on the president’s previously expressed wish to open a T-shirt shop in Hawaii that only sells one size (medium) and one color (white). Perhaps it should be a dually owned handmade friendship bracelet startup instead. It doesn’t sound especially remunerative, but something tells me their combined star power would help make it work, at least until Biden started playing hooky and dozing off, leading Obama to a Lucy in the chocolate factory situation, way behind on orders and covered in yards of red, white, and blue embroidery floss.

Whatever fantasies we have, the reality of Biden and Obama’s BFFdom will probably never be as happy-go-lucky, light-hearted, and pratfall-filled as we’d like, due to their both actually being very serious, accomplished, and high-minded politicians. But we still can’t wait to see the God’s eye Biden gives Obama to celebrate his last day in office.