When Hall & Oates released their 1984 hit “Out of Touch,” Joe Biden was serving in the U.S. Senate for nearly a decade. Back then, it was okay for politicians — older white men in suits — to be "out of touch" because, well, that’s the way it was. But over the last generation, it has become not only out of fashion for politicians to be out of touch, but fatal. The new coat of paint Biden will apply to his campaign once he picks his running mate better reflect this new reality.

A couple bizarre statements from the former vice-president raised questions about how "in touch" he actually is. Last week, Biden told a reporter that the Latino community in America has tremendous diversity of thought “unlike the African-American community, with a couple notable exceptions.” Given that the African-American community saved Biden’s moribund campaign earlier this year, the put-down is especially galling.

Last month, he famously told Charlemagne that if he hadn’t already made up his mind whether he was for Biden or Trump then, “you ain’t black.” As is the grammatical faux pas made his speech more credible.

What was he thinking?

Back in the day, a politician could wander the land adapting his or her pitch to the local groups in front of them. Bill Clinton was famous for unfurling his Southern drawl south of the Mason-Dixon line and adopting a more clipped tone when speaking in the hallowed halls of Harvard. The media at the time allowed, even encouraged, such behavior. The instantaneous effects of cable news and social media changed all that.

But as he sits in his basement preparing for his next interview, Biden likely imagines himself in a bodega, or a union hall, or a grange because that’s how political communications used to be. Targeted communications were largely about your head space and not your echo. It was a simpler time.

This past spring thought leaders in the mainstream media struggled to contextualize Biden’s gaffes, understanding they would be an issue in the critical days of the general election. A Washington Post columnist penned a piece in late May on “How to Think About Biden’s Gaffes,” because those of us outside the Beltway occasionally need instruction on how to consider things. The piece concluded that Biden may be silly, but Trump is worse.

The Biden campaign tried to embrace the candidate’s anachronisms as “no malarkey,” whether or not this catches on has yet to be seen. Ultimately, though word choice is less important than being in touch.

George H.W. Bush did not know he was signing his own political death warrant when he expressed amazement at a supermarket scanner in 1992 or told New Hampshire voters “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” But the hip boomers on the Clinton campaign leapt on these “out of touch” moments with sharpened talons. When they played Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” after Bill’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, a generation swooned. “It’s our turn, dammit.”

The current president — and it is well known — is addicted to Twitter, which seems to be a medium uniquely crafted for those with ADHD. His staff cringes when he composes a tweet, but as far as being “in touch” is concerned, that’s okay. Every staff person, every Beltway norm, every vestige of presidential decorum is part of the bubble that insulates the "in-touch" leader from his following.

In fact, the content of what Trump tweets is like the flotsam and jetsam of the tides, it comes and goes and is quickly forgotten. The fact that he’s tweeting means he covets the “in touch” connection it allows, making what others call his handicap an actual plus — at least in the eyes of those who receive these tweets as indications he cares and is trying.

Of course neither may be true, but that is the effect.

For Biden, breaking out of the basement will require making a better show of being “in touch.” Instead of second-hand, borrowed phrases like “C’mon man!” (which his former boss, President Obama, borrowed from ESPN commentator Leshawn Johnson), he might craft a few of his own. The art of this demands that they be understandable to those who don’t know that a “dog-faced, lying pony soldier” is a John Wayne line.

It’s not about age. It’s about connection.