Thursday, February 5, 2015

Joe Biden: The 42 year campaign

“I once knew a woman who had two sons; one became an explorer, the other vice president. Both were never heard from again.” –Teddy Roosevelt

In 2008, before six time senator Joe Biden was vice president, Hillary Clinton said that Biden has wanted to be president since he first “sat down in the senate” in 1973. Well, now he has the number two job, and may be looking for the next step up. Of course, Hillary currently holds the field of potential Democratic Sixteeners alone, merely because she has said she is interested in the job. But honestly, Biden’s chances are not good.

The numbers for him are right up front. Nine vice presidents have followed the president because of death or resignation, but no vice president has won election since 1988, after Ronald Reagan. And he-George Bush Sr., did not win reelection. The last vice president to try to follow was Al Gore, and of course, he lost.
But Biden has another problem that you might not have thought-he is a Democrat. (That's always a problem, but that's not what I'm talking about.) No non-incumbent Democrat has ever followed the president. The only time a Democrat followed a Democrat in history was when the president died. So Biden would be better of if Obama died, but since he is in good health and not going Dallas anytime soon, that tragedy is not likely to happen.
But Biden has deeper problems than just the numbers. But first a bit of background.
Joe Biden himself is a Catholic. (No problem there.) The first of four siblings of a Catholic family, he has some Irish Ancestry. Biden played football in high school and brought a team that constantly lost to being undefeated in his senior year. He also played Baseball. He went to University of Delaware in Newark, which bored him, and he preferred to play around rather than study.
He told a girl at that time who would later become his first wife that he planned to become a senator at the age of 30 and then president.  He married the girl-Neilia Hunter, but she died tragically in a car accident a few years later.
It was while at law school that the first of the charges were brought, in fact in his very first year-he was accused of plagiarizing 5 0f 15 pages of an article. Biden claimed it was an accident. He was not punished although he had to retake a class, and Biden claimed that he had misunderstood the rules of citation. After graduating he began practicing law, and at this time registered as an independent because he did not like Richard Nixon, although there were attempts by local Republicans to get him to join them.
Biden did run for senate, and win in Delaware, and in 1975, Joe's brother set up a blind date for him with a girl Joe had only ever seen a picture of-Jill Jacobs Stevenson, a then married college woman. By the next year, after divorce proceedeings with a husband she had been drifting from for some time, Jill was free to marry, and the next year, at a Catholic Church, the senator had a second wife. They are still married.

And on March 9, 1987, at a train station, is dream became a reality-he declared that he would run for the presidency. In the first quarter, the respected senator raised more money than any other candidate. But then the old problems return. He was accused of plagiarizing, again, and this time in a political speech.

Not long after that, the old incident in law school was uncovered. It was then found that three of his claims about law school during the campaign, among which he had said he was at the top half of his class, were either exaggerated, or untrue. He certainly had gone and graduated, but it had not been the free and easy ride he claimed it had been.

Although it would later be ruled Biden had not broken any actual laws in his lying /exaggerating, he was forced to pull out of the race for presidency, and return to the senate.

At this time, Biden was struck with an illness that left him so in such a dangerous state, that last rights were actually administered by a Catholic Priest. His family said that in the end it was a blessing he pulled out of the race when he did, or he might have died on the campaign trail.

To bring the story to modern date, Biden held his senate seat and tried briefly to run in 2008 for the presidency again, but a gaff on the first day of his campaign derailed him instantly, and he was forced to take the second slot, as Obama needed an old hand in Washington, as Biden was certainly one of those.
While in some ways, Biden seems like a sort of all American boy, he certainly has been corrupted-or at least was in the past. And while the lying and plagiarizing charges are old news, more than twenty years old, in fact, the issues facing him in 2016 could be insurmountable.
But Biden is a man who sometimes lacks that certain “it” of presidential style. Making him look like he would not make a good president. For instance saying that he was proud to have been made president of the United States, before correcting himself and remembering he was only vice president.
Another time, he spoke of how his father liked Barak Obama, but his father was already dead. So he had to amend himself to say his father “would have liked” Barak Obama. The man is now 72. One can only hope for his own sake and dignity, that, if he runs, he doesn’t start plagiarizing in bigger ways, and at a massive rally shout out “I like Ike.” People would notice that one for sure.
Joe Biden is certainly aging, and time is running out for him, as it is for Hillary Clinton. Both of them have to know that 2016 is the last chance for them. Biden has said he will make the announcement sometime this summer as to whether he wants to be president or not. He wanted to all those years ago when he was trying to impress a girl in law school, but over the years the enthusiasm may have cooled.
It hard to say how good of a president he would make, it’s the type of job for which there really is no preparing. But he has looked like a joke so often (I simply said the name at a family gathering in California last year, and the room, full of Democrats, broke into laughter) that his public image would need some serious making over. But its not just the image, sometimes, the reality is too far gone.

Andrew C. Abbott 

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