Vice President Joe Biden’s “chains” remark is the most outlandish of the campaign season—and that’s saying a lot when the Obama camp has sought to portray Mitt Romney as a job-exporting tax cheat whose evil machinations as a vulture capitalist killed a woman.

You have to see a video of Biden in action to grasp how bizarre his behavior was (I thought it was in Howard Dean Scream territory), but here is what he said, speaking before an audience that included many African Americans:

Romney wants to let the — he said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules — unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains….

This is not only an attack on Mitt Romney and his campaign. It is encouragement by the vice president of the United States to see the United States as a grossly unfair society. It assumes that we live in a country in which a mean-spirited and ungenerous people could very well elect as president somebody who doesn’t care about the commonweal. If you believe this, you can only think: What an awful place America is!

Perhaps that is the way Mr. Biden sees us, or perhaps it’s just demagoguery. But this kind of the mudslinging is beginning to seem so yesterday.

I confess that I almost felt sorry for President Obama yesterday on the hustings, when he told a pathetic joke about Seamus the dog. With the entry of Paul Ryan into the race, Romney-Ryan is trying to talk about the future of the country. We are at a crossroads with an economy that refuses to budge, people out of work, and too many people seeing dependence on the government as normal. In this environment, Seamus isn't what matters. President Obama looked like a man from the distant past of 2008 when he invoked the late pouch yesterday (even sadder, he seemed to get a kick out of the jab).

The Obama campaign may or may not join Ryan-Romney in a serious discussion of where we are going. Indeed, if too many people see government as a solution, the debate could be in vain. But I don’t think so.

We’re better than the country Mr. Biden's "chained" remark depicts us. Americans are hungry for a campaign that addresses the profound problems we face.