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On Meeting Joe Biden

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:18 pm - August 23, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics

I suppose as the weekend passes, I may have more to say about presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s choice of Delaware’s senior Senator as his running mate.  For the moment, I will echo Bruce’s point that it does seem a lot like George W. Bush’s choice of Dick Cheney in 2000, an older political veteran with foreign policy experience from a small state that was already a lock for their party.

But, Cheney, unlike Biden, actually had some executive experience, having served as White House Chief of Staff under President Gerald R. Ford and as Defense Secretary under President George H.W. Bush.  Joe Biden has spent well over half his life the Senate, having served there since Barack Obama was eleven years old.

Others have dissected the choice with Jay Nordlinger calling it an “error.”  Glenn Reynolds links some interesting and insightful posts and articles here and here while John Hinderaker weighs in here on Biden’s “unbearable lightness.”

For now, I’ll relate the story of my meeting with the now-presumptive Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee.  I met the guy.  I like him.  Despite his loquaciousness and polical obtuseness, he’s very decent, if not classy, man.  While he never impressed me as a politician, he did as a human being.

Back in the late 1990s, I was dating a fetching young man who worked in Biden’s office.  My friend invited me to his office’s holiday party the winter we were seeing each other.

When I arrived, he introduced me to Biden who could not have been more gracious.  Biden looked me in the eye when we met and praised the work of my date (his staffer).

We didn’t get much time to talk as other staffers wanted to chat with their boss and/or introduce family members they had brought along to the shindig.  I no longer remember if my political leanings came out.  Indeed, I can hardly remember the content of our conversation beyond the pleasantries.

What I do remember is that when everyone was posing for the office picture, I stood aside not clear whether or not I should participate in the shot.  I didn’t work for the Senator and was only dating the staffer.  We were not then (nor did we become) boyfriends or partners.

Seeing me standing awkwardly (and uncomfortably), Biden looked up and gestured at me, “C’mon, Dan, Get in the picture.”  I was impressed that he had remembered my name and touched that he had reached out to me when even my date was uncertain what I should do.

It showed a lot of class–and compassion, that he would reach out and include me.

It’s been over ten years since that moment.  And that remains the one lasting memory of that evening.  I don’t share Joe Biden’s politics, don’t think he would make a good vice president, much less a good president.  But, he is a decent guy, a good man, a mensch, as my Dad might say.  And that should count for something.

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24 Comments

  1. Thats a really cool story, I want to have stories like that one day….a boy can dream.

    Comment by Darkeyedresolve — August 23, 2008 @ 5:28 pm - August 23, 2008

  2. That is a cool story. Perhaps Biden is a decent guy on a personal level but he was not a decent guy when Clarence Thomas was undergoing his trial by fire in the Senate. In that case, he was a bullying jerk. I loathe people who bully someone who is in no position to do anything about it.

    A long time ago, I was a reserve police officer and got tasked with telling a US Senator (R – now retired) that he couldn’t pass out literature at an arts festival (no-soliciting policy). I was embarrassed but he was gracious and polite – told me not to worry for a second.

    BTW: for those libs think I’m one of those people who won’t vote for Obama because he’s black, be clear that if a black man or woman with Thomas’s intellect and character were running for president, he/she would certainly have my vote. To paraphrase M.L. King: It’s not the color of his skin but the content of his character.

    Comment by Robert — August 23, 2008 @ 5:50 pm - August 23, 2008

  3. Couple things about the Biden pick. Where’s the CHANGE? So when faced with his first real important decision….he picks the balding white haired straight white guy with 35 years in Washington DC. Barack lied. There isn’t any change here. Why would he lie to us like that. I was hoping BHO wasn’t just a run of the mill polititian.
    For those Hillary supporters, time to take a walk. BHO didn’t even vet or consider the WOMAN who recieved 18 million votes in the primaries. Where’s the respect. He didn’t even call Hills and ask her opinion of Biden, didn’t call her to notify her of his decision. What a huge slap in the face of all the Clinton loyalists. Time to take a walk or sit home people!

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:08 pm - August 23, 2008

  4. Did you see how Barack introduced Biden as the “next President of the United States’? What a horrible gaff. Shouldn’t they have put that in the teleprompter for him that he was picking him as VICE PRESIDENT?
    Gaff machine. Poof he’s gone.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:21 pm - August 23, 2008

  5. Nice post. If only the other side were as cordial and civil. The far lefties are some of the nastiest people I’ve met. I’m curious about this site’s thoughts on who McCain should now pick as VP?

    Comment by Tom — August 23, 2008 @ 6:24 pm - August 23, 2008

  6. Tom as a conservative bordering on libertarian…my pick for VP for McCain would be Rice or Romney. There are no life long conservatives for McCain to pick from, so Romney is the next best thing.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:33 pm - August 23, 2008

  7. Did you see how Barack introduced Biden as the “next President of the United States’? What a horrible gaff.

    Maybe Barack was finally having a moment of clear thinking. As Dick Morris said, if you put Joe Biden on the ticket, most people are going to view the ticket upside down.

    Comment by Mitchell Blatt — August 23, 2008 @ 6:35 pm - August 23, 2008

  8. The Biden pick, just another balding white haired straight white guy. Where’s the CHANGE. In the beginning I thought this new guy Barack might be the anti polititian. Something I was dying to see more of in DC. Why would he lie to us. No change here. Biden has spent 35 years in Washington? Geez. BHO lied to us and made America think he was different. And the slap at Hillary is obvious. He didn’t have Hills even vetted. Didn’t ask her for advice or inform her of his choice. The Clintons seem so muted and humbled. Hillary supporters, come on over. I’d ask them to walk out or sit the election out. The Democrat ticket, two more power hungry men. How sad for Americas women.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:38 pm - August 23, 2008

  9. (spam blocker has dumped two of my best posts, damn)

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:39 pm - August 23, 2008

  10. Alert..if Hillary gives a Teddy Kennedy 1979 “the dream shall never die” speech on Tuesday look for a huge sigh or remorse and buyers remorse on Wednesday. In 1979 he had the convention hall rocking and shaking, when Jimmy Carter tried to shake his hand on stage Teddy kept walking away from him. Carter never recieved much respect after that. If you watch it, the tape will give you chills.
    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/tedkennedy1980dnc.htm

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:46 pm - August 23, 2008

  11. If you don’t have the patience to listen to it all, slide to the final 25%.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 6:51 pm - August 23, 2008

  12. Obama just emailed me with great news! Now you can buy a small circle with Obama’s and Biden’s names on it and put it on your car! Only $15!

    https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/vpmagnet?source=20080823_OB_CM

    Comment by Mitchell Blatt — August 23, 2008 @ 7:28 pm - August 23, 2008

  13. THANKS for sharing this story. It’s far easier to villify people whom we’ve never met. Most folks are OK, or at least not nearly as bad as blogs and partisan news clips make them out to be. That said, I don’t like Biden’s public persona; however, I will be a bit more cautious with what I say about him now that I know he made a young man feel more at ease during an awkward moment.

    Comment by MikeInSedona — August 23, 2008 @ 7:53 pm - August 23, 2008

  14. Dan, good story, but I don’t vote based on personal stories. Politicians more than any other profession seem to live double lives.

    Mitchell, you are a brave young man, to have your name on Obama lists, although you are still young I can’t imagine how much fund raising mail you must get from him.

    As to the ticket being upside down, I guess Obama just confirmed it in his introductory speech. He must agree with his choice of VP that he himself is still too green behind the ears. Isn’t that called a Freudian slip?

    Comment by Leah — August 23, 2008 @ 8:28 pm - August 23, 2008

  15. #4 Tom my preference now is Romney. He is not a died in the wool conservative but we don’t have any of those to choose from. I wish Condi Rice were available, and am extremely disappointed that the Republicans don’t have a woman or minority ELECTED official who is ready for at least VP. Looking forward, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin Gov of Alaska…are rising stars. If McCain wins, hopefully Romney will be elevated in 2012 with Jindal or Palin as VP. One of my biggest disappointments with Bush 43 is that he didn’t set up a better, more obvious successin. I love Cheney but having him step aside in ’06 for Rice would have been perfect.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 9:36 pm - August 23, 2008

  16. So Obama picks a balding silver haired straight white guy from the NE. Where’s the CHANGE? What’s up wit that? Biden has been in Washington for over 35 years! I thought Barack promised us he was gonna be different? A lot of people thought he was gonna be bi partisian and pick a Republican! TV said Obama was the most liberal Senator and Biden was the 3rd most liberal Senator. Just another polititian, says one thing does another. Lies all lies. Man did Hillary get the shaft. BHO didn’t even have her vetted, didn’t ask her for advice on the VP, didn’t call her to inform her of his decision. How the Clintons must feel humiliated. Note to Hillary supporters…take a walk. Or stay home. Don’t support a guy who disses you so bad. MSNBC is saying the Clintons are upset because Obama isn’t helping her retire her debts. (Remember in the liberal world, your debts really really aren’t your own). Is it true that he picked Biden to ensure he will win Delaware? hehe

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 23, 2008 @ 9:49 pm - August 23, 2008

  17. Tom my preference now is Romney. He is not a died in the wool conservative…

    As a libertarian, I find it hillarious when people call Romney a conservative. You guys, go crazy on McCain for calling Falwell an “agent of intolerance,” and you can’t vote for anyone who supports abortion unless they are Mormon. You trash Obama for pandering and flip-flopping, but you don’t care about Romney supporting abortion.

    So Obama picks a balding silver haired straight white guy from the NE. Where’s the CHANGE? What’s up wit that?

    Age doesn’t even have anything to do with change. McCain is really old, but he’s been a maverick.

    More importantly, VP doesn’t matter at all.

    Comment by Mitchell Blatt — August 23, 2008 @ 10:10 pm - August 23, 2008

  18. From a strategic point of view, this is a wasted chance.
    For over two decades, one of the ground facts of the Electoral College is that the Democrats can rely on having certain large-population states automatically on thier side: we might as well just call California, Massachusetts, and New York right now for Obama. For the same period of time, the Republicans have been winning elections by building coalitions of midwestern and southern states; mostly of few electoral votes individually but collectively totaling enough to counterbalance the Democrats’ big-state advantage.

    In Obama’s shoes I wouldn’t have wasted a VP pick on someone from a reliably blue state: I would have nominated someone from a battleground or “purple” state, preferably in the South. Kaine of Virgina or Governor Whatsisname in North Carolina would’ve been on my short list. If I can break up the Republicans’ southern bloc, even by just one stae, I can keep them from getting enough electoral votes to win… which means that I win.

    Comment by DaveP. — August 23, 2008 @ 10:49 pm - August 23, 2008

  19. Before becoming NSA, Condoleeza Rice taught at Stanford University for 20 years. And you don’t spend two decades in heathen San Francisco without it affecting your Bible Belt upbringing just a tad. While she’s an advocate of aggressive neo-conservative foreign policy, I don’t see her as much of a social conservative. In fact, Condi has said she’s “mildly” pro-choice. She typically waffles on affirmative action (saying that non-racial factors should always take the lead, but also carefully avoiding the suggestion that she’d rule out the use of race completely). Likewise, she has dodged questions about homosexuality as “outside of my purview.” While this ambiguity is fine for the State Department, it is not acceptable for a GOP Vice Presidential candidate. Given McCain’s own troubles with the religious right over the years, picking Condi would be a huge risk. It would, however, have the virtue of being bold. As well as neutralize Obama’s phony “racism” charge once and for all.

    Comment by John — August 24, 2008 @ 5:13 am - August 24, 2008

  20. I think Sarah Palin is his best choice. He can grab some of the disenfranchised Hillary vote, usurp the “change” theme from Obama (who has now picked the ultimate beltway insider for his VP), show the party is more than just old white guys, and put someone with solid executive experience on the ticket that conservatives, religious right, libertarians and independents all like.

    I think if he goes with Romney he loses a perfect opportunity to remind voters of why he’s called maverick, and will likely have an even sleepier effect than Obama’s choice of Biden.

    Comment by Tom — August 24, 2008 @ 1:22 pm - August 24, 2008

  21. #17 John you are right. I would like Condi to run for governor of somewhere so we can nail down some of these policy positions. But she is a “clean articulate Republican African American” as the leftists might say.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 24, 2008 @ 6:17 pm - August 24, 2008

  22. he is a decent guy, a good man

    So Biden’s defeatism, racial slurs, constant episodes of plagiarism, and shutting down a questioner by telling him “My IQ is higher than yours, I went to law school”, don’t count?

    My idea of “a good man, a mensch” can encompass one or two of those (since no one’s perfect). Not all four, sorry.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 24, 2008 @ 11:46 pm - August 24, 2008

  23. Interesting story. It’s nice that Biden was a good host in private, but a decent man he is not, I’ve seen too much indecent behavior from him in public to accept that, and one does not excuse the other.

    Comment by American Elephant — August 25, 2008 @ 2:59 am - August 25, 2008

  24. A Point About Joe Biden’s Tenure In The US Senate…

    I’ve noticed a number of comments regarding Joe Biden’s lengthy Senatorial career making him the ultimate insider. I’ve noted folks observing that Barack Obama was 11 when Biden first won election to that body (I was 9). But there is……

    Trackback by Rhymes With Right — August 25, 2008 @ 10:52 pm - August 25, 2008

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