Who is Joe Biden, regular guy or experienced pol? Or both?

Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 10:48 am
I admire Joe Biden and think he will make an outstanding Vice President. He's not perfect but about as close to being the right person as possible.---BBB

Who is Joe Biden, regular guy or experienced pol? Or both?
Obama names Sen. Joe Biden as his vice-presidential pick
Biden, a senator at age 29, offers experience to ticket
By David Lightman and Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON " Joe Biden is an archetypical veteran Washington politician: Fiercely partisan, combative and glib, but also a senator who’s carefully built a reputation as a consensus-builder on tough issues.

The 65-year-old Delaware Democrat, the fifth youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate when he won his seat at age 29 in 1972, appears on paper to be the kind of elder stateman/Washington insider that political analysts think Obama badly needs advising him.

What separates Biden from the Senate pack, though, is not the resume, it's the style.

He's a politician who can discuss, seemingly for hours, a detailed plan for rebuilding Iraq. But in 2006, about three months after offering a proposal for partitioning that country into three regions, he probably got just as much notice when he quipped while campaigning, "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."

These two sides of Joe Biden " conciliator and "regular guy" " have both helped and hurt him throughout his political life.

In the mid-1980s, some Democrats, notably onetime Jimmy Carter political adviser Patrick Caddell, saw Biden as one of the first presidential candidates who could enthrall the baby-boom generation. Biden briefly made a presidential bid in 1987, but his proclivity to talk and talk got him in trouble.

In a television ad, Biden used, without attribution, the words of British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock during a debate in Iowa.

"Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?" Biden asked. "Why is it that my wife, who is sitting out there in the audience, is the first in her family ever to go to college?"

Kinnock had earlier asked, "Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Why is Glenys (his wife) the first woman in her family in a tousand generations to be able to get to university?"

But while the incident derailed the White House bid, few back in the Senate were upset; they saw it as Biden being Biden.

He was Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, and quickly rebounded as he led the fight to deny Robert Bork, President Reagan's Supreme Court nominee, nomination.

He got broad support from colleagues, including Bork loyalists. "Hang on tight," Republican Sen. Alan Simpson said at the time. "You have at least had the guts to throw yourself in the public arena, to run for the presidency.

"And that's better than a lot of faint-hearted detractors will ever do in this world," Simpson said.

Biden's judiciary work made him a favorite enemy of conservatives, though in 1991 he first had to deal with annoyed women’s groups.

He chaired the committee in 1991 during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and was criticized for not being quick to scrutinize allegations by Anita Hill that Thomas harassed her. Biden did eventually convene hearings examining the charges and voted against Thomas.

Biden the deal-maker was instrumental four years later in shepherding President Clinton’s crime initiative through Congress. The legislation aimed to add 100,000 police officers on America’s streets, but also expanded the use of the federal death penalty.

He became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Democrats regained control of the Senate in 2001, and a year later was battling many leaders in his own party over whether to give President Bush broad authority to wage war in Iraq.

Biden fought some of his party's wiliest strategists, notably West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, but 29 Democrats joined 48 Republicans to give Bush the bipartisan backing he wanted.

Yet Biden also remained a critic of administration policy, and by 2006, was advocating another way to deal with the increasingly unpopular conflict.

Rather than timetables or surges, he proposed federalizing Iraq and giving Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds autonomy over separate regions.

Biden is still a consensus-builder and a talker " something Obama knows firsthand. An early effort by Biden to compliment Obama also drew criticism as racially insensitive when he said Obama was the first mainstream black presidential candidate to be “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Other Biden lines are sure to be repeated: “I am not running for vice president. I would not accept it if anyone offered it to me. The fact of the matter is I’d rather stay as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee than be vice president,” he told Fox News last August. And he said Obama was “not yet ready” to be president.

Biden was born in Scranton, Pa., and his family moved to Delaware while he was still in grade school. His first wife, Neilia, and a daughter were killed in a car accident shortly after he was elected to the Senate.

Biden has always been known as a devoted family man, often taking the train home to Wilmington after his work day in Washington ended. He married Jill Tracy Jacobs in 1977, and they have a daughter, Ashley, 27, a social worker.

Biden survived two brain aneurysms in 1988, taking months to recover. Months earlier, his bid for president collapsed after he was accused of plagiarism for failing to credit a British politician for wording of a speech.

Biden has two children from his first marriage. Beau, 39, Delaware’s attorney general who is often mentioned as a successor to his father, is a captain in the National Guard, about to be deployed to Iraq.

Another son, Hunter, 38, has worked as a corporate Washington lobbyist, while Obama has campaigned on minimizing the influence of lobbyists and special-interest groups in politics.

Biden tried to win the presidency again this year, and drew large, enthusiastic crowds in Iowa. But after a finishing a distant fifth in the Iowa caucus, he dropped out the next day.

Biden-watchers thought he was in the running for vice president when they observed two uncharacteristic traits this spring and summer: He did not take sides in the Obama-Hillary Clinton nomination fight, and he stayed fairly quiet.

He tried hard to remain the statesman, and when he returned earlier this week from a trip to Georgia, his rhetoric was lofty.

"I have left the country convinced that Russia's invasion of Georgia may be one of the most significant events to occur in Europe since the end of communism," he said.

Of course, that’s not all Joe Biden said. He went on for another 500 words.
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 10:51 am
another 5000 words.... Laughing of course the only thing worse than a politician who can't bring themselves to stop talking is a populace who can't bring themselves to listen to anything....
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 10:54 am
yackitty-yak about his style......what matters is that he is a man of intelligence and integrity.
cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 10:54 am
I believe Joe Biden is about the best choice Obama can make even though his message of "change" is somewhat obscured by that choice.
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 11:05 am
@cicerone imposter,

Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph R. Biden, Sr. and Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan.[2][3] He was the first of four siblings[3] and is of Irish Catholic heritage

surely , this will bring in a few votes or does that no longer carry any weight in U.S. elections ?
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 11:07 am
and I should add that having intelligence and integrity does thus set Biden apart from a great many of his colleagues.
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:04 pm
I partially disagree with some of Halperin's opinions. Joe Biden proved he could be a succinct speaker during the Democratic debates. He even got laughs from the audience for answering questions in such a succinct manner. He can learn. ---BBB

Halperin on Biden: Pros and Cons
Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008
Time Magazine

Throughout Barack Obama's search for a running mate, Joe Biden has always been hiding in plain sight, a man who appears supremely qualified to be vice president of the United States.

Biden has been on the national stage so long that he was able to mount two credible runs for the presidency himself an amazing 20 years apart, in 1988 and 2008. He has served as chairman of both the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, traveling the globe to meet world leaders and to be directly involved in almost every major international and domestic debate of the last two generations. He has excelled as both a speaker and a debater. His Irish-Catholic heritage makes him a demographic dream in appealing to swing voters. He is both a Washington insider and a hero to working-class Americans and labor union leaders, in part because of his rhetoric, but also because of his own middle class upbringing. He has mastered the art of the network Sunday show television appearance as well as the classic vice-presidential skill of savagely attacking his political opponents with both a smile and the use of casual, kitchen-table idioms.

Balanced against all of those unmatched qualifications is one quality that has afflicted Biden for as long as anyone can remember: a persistent tendency to say silly, offensive, and off-putting things. Over the next few days (and, likely, weeks) some of Biden's ungreatest hits of gab will be recycled by the media and Republicans aiming to take the luster off Obama's choice of running mate. The central mystery for those who have watched Biden over the years is this: how could someone so smart, experienced, and articulate be his own worst enemy by saying just the wrong thing at just the wrong moment?

Beyond the verbal gaffes during both of his presidential campaigns, Biden stunned his supporters, and delighted his opponents, during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of John Robert and Sam Alito, President Bush's conservative nominees for the high court. In preparing for the public sessions, Biden's advisers warned him repeatedly not to let his verbose ways dominate the proceedings. Be crisp and clear and concise, they told him over and over during practice sessions. And yet when the lights and cameras were on, Biden was at his very worst " long-winded, self-involved, and off message.

Surely, as the Obama campaign unveils Biden to the world, they are little concerned about his ability to surmount the primary hurdle that any potential vice president must get over, that Biden is ready to be president from day one by virture of experience, temperament, and judgment. But the campaign will just as certainly be coaching him on his initial speeches and media appearances. Once again, Joe Biden will be told to keep it short and limit the use of the pronoun "I."

Those who know Biden well, who have watched him and worked with him over the years in the Senate and on the campaign trail, know two things with absolute certainty. One, it will be exceedingly difficult for Biden to carry out those instructions. And, two, if he is able to do as he is told regarding his renegade mouth, he will be a smash hit as Obama's running mate.
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:19 pm
Joe Biden: Profile - Delaware senator's leadership of the foreign relations committee expected to benefit
by Elana Schor in Washington and Katie Cooksey
Saturday August 23 2008

Barack Obama and Joe Biden pictured before the start of a presidential forum in Chicago. Photograph: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Joseph Biden, the 65-year-old Delaware senator has, by all accounts, a superlative resumé.

Biden's leadership of the foreign relations committee is expected to benefit Democrats during a presidential race that could be decided as much by Iran, Iraq and Russia as by the US.

His son is scheduled for a deployment to Iraq this year, and he has a palpable affection for Barack Obama.

Biden, first elected at the age of 30, is a demonstrably skilled debater. Washington has produced few sparkling wits, but he is one of them.

During a Democratic presidential debate in February, the famously talkative Pennsylvania native was asked whether he had the self-discipline to lead the free world.

Most expected one of his long-winded answers, but he shocked the crowd into laughter by answering: "Yes."

And he offered one of the most succinct putdowns of the campaign when he said of Rudy Giuliani: "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence - a noun, a verb and 9/11."

Biden's drawbacks, however, go beyond his verbosity. His presidential candidacy in 1988 derailed after he admitted to plagiarising a speech by the then British Labour party leader, Neil Kinnock.

His long history in Washington also risks undermining Obama's message of "change".

Biden, who dropped out of the presidential race in Iowa in January, is of Irish Catholic heritage but is in favour of abortion rights, a key issue in US elections.

He originally voted to authorise the war in Iraq, but has since become a persistent critic of the Bush administration's policies there.

Born into a working class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 20 1942, Biden is not a household name but was arguably the most well-known of those being considered for the vice presidency by Obama.

He was the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee during two of the most contentious supreme court nomination battles of the past 50 years.

He led the opposition to the nominations of Robert H Bork, who was defeated, and Clarence Thomas, who was later confirmed.

Biden married Neilia Hunter in 1966, and the couple had three children. His wife and 13-month-old daughter. Naomi. died in a car accident in December 1972, shortly after he was first elected to the Senate.

His two sons, Joseph R Biden III and Robert Hunter, were seriously injured, but Biden was persuaded not to resign to look after them and was sworn into office from their bedside. Both made full recoveries.

In 1977, he married Jill Tracy Jacobs, with whom he has a daughter, Ashley.

Biden is currently serving his sixth term as a member of the Democratic Party. He has served for the sixth-longest period among current senators, and is Delaware's longest-serving senator.
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:43 pm
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
Hoping It’s Biden
Published: August 22, 2008

Barack Obama has decided upon a vice-presidential running mate. And while I don’t know who it is as I write, for the good of the country, I hope he picked Joe Biden.

Biden’s weaknesses are on the surface. He has said a number of idiotic things over the years and, in the days following his selection, those snippets would be aired again and again.

But that won’t hurt all that much because voters are smart enough to forgive the genuine flaws of genuine people. And over the long haul, Biden provides what Obama needs:

Working-Class Roots. 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.

Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have trouble connecting with working-class voters, especially Catholic ones. Biden would be the bridge.

Honesty. 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.

Presidents need someone who will be relentlessly direct. Obama, who attracts worshippers, not just staff members, needs that more than most.

Loyalty. 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.

New administrations are dominated by the young and the arrogant, and benefit from the presence of those who have been through the worst and who have a tinge of perspective. Moreover, there are moments when a president has to go into the cabinet room and announce a decision that nearly everyone else on his team disagrees with. In those moments, he needs a vice president who will provide absolute support. That sort of loyalty comes easiest to people who have been down themselves, and who had to rely on others in their own moments of need.

Experience. When Obama talks about postpartisanship, he talks about a grass-roots movement that will arise and sweep away the old ways of Washington. When John McCain talks about it, he describes a meeting of wise old heads who get together to craft compromises. Obama’s vision is more romantic, but McCain’s is more realistic.

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.

There are other veep choices. Tim Kaine seems like a solid man, but selecting him would be disastrous. It would underline all the anxieties voters have about youth and inexperience. Evan Bayh has impeccably centrist credentials, but the country is not in the mood for dispassionate caution.

Biden’s the one. The only question is whether Obama was wise and self-aware enough to know that.
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 03:24 pm
Joe Biden. Another crooked politician who has been in washington for 35 years. You can kiss change in washington goodby. But than I never belived in that change stick. It was just for the suckers.
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 05:16 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Well look at it this way CI, had BO chosen Hillary Clinton for his running mate there would be three presidents in the White House.
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Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 06:35 pm

I respect your views from a far of country.
He is not that bad as is the case of his opponnt.
But still Change and Hope need new faces and not the usual chaterboxes.
If i were Obama i would have picked up an unknown- untried white woman.
But Obama had decided and now the voters of America should ddecide.
I will watch with rapt attention.
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 09:58 pm
I appreciate that Biden has characteristics that help balance the ticket for Obama's perceived shortcomings, but...

Delaware's 3 electoral votes won't help the ticket much. Should the VP have been selected from a large "purple" state?

I fear that the '88 plagiarism charge and the occasional misunderstood quote will be fodder for the GOP.

Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 04:57 pm
Sorry sir
If you had read the reactions of American press then you will tacidly approve my critical views.
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