Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

When we all were discussing who it would be, different people looked at the potential veep choices in different ways: Would the person balance the ticket? What kind of experience did the person have? What was more important: being a Governor or being ex-military? There were numerous questions raised by the DCW readers, by the pundits, in homes across America.

And now we know it's Joe Biden.
Over the next several days, we'll certainly hear EVERYTHING about him, that we've all forgotten since he ran in '88. Instead of being President, he's been a Senate leader in so many ways, right up to re-introducing the ERA last year. If you want to see a synopsis of his voting record, click here. If you want 36 years of voting record, click here. His brief bio from the Post:

BIDEN, Joseph Robinette, Jr., a Senator from Delaware; born in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pa., November 20, 1942; educated at St. Helena’s School, Wilmington, Del., and Archmere Academy, Claymont, Del.; graduated, University of Delaware, Newark, 1965, and Syracuse (N.Y.) University College of Law 1968; admitted to the Delaware bar in 1969 and commenced practice in Wilmington; served on the New Castle County Council 1970-1972; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1972 and reelected in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, and again in 2002 for the term ending January 3, 2009; chair, Committee on the Judiciary (One Hundredth through One Hundred Third Congresses), Committee on Foreign Relations (One Hundred Seventh Congress [January 3-20, 2001; June 6, 2001-January 3, 2003], One Hundred Tenth Congress).


David Brooks wrote in the Friday Times about why Joe Biden should be the choice. There was a lot in there that I, for one, had forgotten, if indeed I ever knew. Some highlights from the piece:

Biden is a lunch-bucket Democrat. His father was rich when he was young — played polo, cavorted on yachts, drove luxury cars. But through a series of bad personal and business decisions, he was broke by the time Joe Jr. came along. They lived with their in-laws in Scranton, Pa., then moved to a dingy working-class area in Wilmington, Del. At one point, the elder Biden cleaned boilers during the week and sold pennants and knickknacks at a farmer’s market on the weekends.

His son was raised with a fierce working-class pride — no one is better than anyone else. Once, when Joe Sr. was working for a car dealership, the owner threw a Christmas party for the staff. Just as the dancing was to begin, the owner scattered silver dollars on the floor and watched from above as the mechanics and salesmen scrambled about for them. Joe Sr. quit that job on the spot.

Even today, after serving for decades in the world’s most pompous workplace, Senator Biden retains an ostentatiously unpretentious manner. He campaigns with an army of Bidens who seem to emerge by the dozens from the old neighborhood in Scranton. He has disdain for privilege and for limousine liberals — the mark of an honest, working-class Democrat.

Biden’s most notorious feature is his mouth. But in his youth, he had a stutter. As a freshman in high school he was exempted from public speaking because of his disability, and was ridiculed by teachers and peers. His nickname was Dash, because of his inability to finish a sentence.

He developed an odd smile as a way to relax his facial muscles (it still shows up while he’s speaking today) and he’s spent his adulthood making up for any comments that may have gone unmade during his youth.

Today, Biden’s conversational style is tiresome to some, but it has one outstanding feature. He is direct. No matter who you are, he tells you exactly what he thinks, before he tells it to you a second, third and fourth time.

Just after Biden was elected to the senate in 1972, his wife, Neilia, and daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash. His career has also been marked by lesser crises. His first presidential run ended in a plagiarism scandal. He nearly died of a brain aneurism.

When Biden was a young senator, he was mentored by Hubert Humphrey, Mike Mansfield and the like. He was schooled in senatorial procedure in the days when the Senate was less gridlocked. If Obama hopes to pass energy and health care legislation, he’s going to need someone with that kind of legislative knowledge who can bring the battered old senators together, as in days of yore.

I'm sure that there will be a lot of discussion of "young" and "old" and "experience" and "judgement" in the near term. I think, though, in the end, the adjectives we'll hear about Biden are "smart" "committed to Democratic ideals" and above all "REAL"!

Welcome Senator Biden, next Vice-President of these United States.