Biden proves he's a man of his word
By Michael M. Bates
Senator Joseph Biden is running for president. The man whose platform may include making the world safe for hair plugs won rave reviews for a recent speech in South Carolina, a venue not commonly frequented by Delaware Democrats.
While his decision to seek his party's nomination isn't "official," the senator has made his intentions clear. Only weeks after Monsieur Kerry collapsed like a soufflé in the last election, Biden told Don Imus: "Well, I'm going to proceed as if I'm going to run."
It's been almost 20 years since he last gave the White House a serious try. When he dropped out then, he said: "There'll be other presidential campaigns, and I'll be there." We now know how ingenuous he was.
This is terrific news for everyone who enjoys politics as a spectator sport. Joe Biden may be an arrogant, pro-abortion, ACLU-loving, gun-hating, tree-hugging, ultraliberal union lackey, but he's never boring.
He demonstrated that the last time he ran. In one public forum he was asked about his scholastic record in law school. Biden's response was captured by the indispensable C-SPAN:
"I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my, in my class to have a full academic scholarship. In the first year in the law, I decided I didn't want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom two-thirds of my class and then decided I wanted to stay, went back to law school and, in fact, ended up in the top half of my class."
He went on a little longer about how smart he is and finished by offering to compare his IQ to that of the questioner. Months later it came out that Joe was a tad shy of finishing in the top half of his class. He ranked 76th out of a class of 85. Admittedly, that's pretty good for a Democrat but not close to his claim.
What's interesting isn't that Biden lied. It's how quickly he lost his temper. Knowing voters are watching, most pols are slow to shift into snarling, demeaning, confrontational mode. Not our boy Joe.
In 1987 the wheels fell off Biden's campaign wagon. Part of his stump speech had been:
"Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife . . . is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? . . . Is it because they didn't work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It's because they didn't have a platform on which to stand."
Among Democrats, many of whom fixate on imaginary conspiratorial class struggles, that was effective rhetoric. The problem was that almost identical words were being used in the stump speech of a British politician. Then there was the charge that Joe had been using, without attribution, quotes from Bobby Kennedy and other Democratic leaders. It was also disclosed that in law school he'd copied a law school review article and turned it in as his own work.
So Joe held a press conference to straighten things out. That was shown on C-SPAN and included this remarkable stream of consciousness insight from Candidate Biden when asked about where he'd been during the Vietnam War:
"By the time the war movement was at its peak when I was at Syracuse, I was married. I was at law school. I wore sport coats. I was not part of that. I'm serious. What you all don't seem to understand is - some of you - I think you understand it I don't think you're really being - well, I won't characterize it.
"So I find you're going back and saying. 'Well, where were you, Senator Biden, at the time?' you know. I think it's bizarre. I think it's bizarre, and then when the movement did catch up, I was a 23-year-old guy, married. And look, you're looking at a middle-class guy. I am who I am. I'm not big on flak jackets and tie-dyed shirts, you know, that's not me. I'm serious.
"So anyway, I want to get this straight, man, because I keep getting asked this all the time and I'm not going to get this many of you in a room again until I'm inaugurated, so you know.
"The, the, second thing is when I got finished, when I got finished (with) law school I came back. The most important thing in my life is my family and I got back and I was going to have a baby. Flat out. That's what was important to me. And I was going to take the bar exam, which was a bear, you know, I mean, I hated law school. I really did. . .
"So, you know, folks, I don't understand this."
Again, the man was telling the truth. Flat out. He genuinely didn't understand. Ending the press conference with, "I'm in this race to stay, I'm in this race to win, and here I come," he withdrew a week later.
How can you not love a guy like that? With or without a sport coat.
Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths. This appeared in the May 11, 2006 Oak Lawn Reporter.
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