- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2011


When Vice President Joe Biden rolls into a room to talk politics, frankly, I am ready to laugh. He is, for me, the gaffable Joe Biden. Remember when he told the perky Katie Couric that during the great stock market crash of 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt immediately “got on television” to reassure the American people? Joe apparently reassured Miss Couric; yet others in the audience who knew their history and recognized his gaffe got a huge laugh at Joe’s expense. The president in 1929 was, of course, Herbert Hoover, and there was no television.

Or what about the gaffable vice president declaring, “The No. 1 job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word, jobs, j-o-b-s, jobs”? Good old Joe!

One could fill an entire chapter of a book with Joe’s gaffes, possibly a whole book, possibly a whole bookshelf. By the way, for those of you who rely on Wikipedia, you will find just one gaffe attributed to Joe in his entry.

Yet, I must admit, I like old Joe.

Even when he speaks acerbically, his tongue has no sting. In fact, when he does, he invariably pauses to come up with a propitiating grin. I remember when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he grilled some Republican nominees with the utmost stringency but he rarely meant it. On the occasion of Ed Meese’s nomination for attorney general he was particularly sharp. Afterward, he greeted Ed and Ed’s formidable wife, Ursula, in the hallway and put his arm around Ed to show his stinging language was not personal. Ursula lit into him with the disdain that only a lady of quality can muster. Joe withdrew like an injured pup. He is not built for combat - only for BS-ing. Later, his questioning of Judge Samuel Alito moved Mrs. Alito to tears. Once again, he was shocked. Joe is really a lot of fun, at least for those who do not take his guff seriously.

That is why when it was reported this week that a CNN poll conducted with ORC International found a significant number of Democrats ready for a candidate who was not Barack Obama, I thought of Joe. Fully 27 percent - slightly more than 1 in 4 - Democrats queried affirmed that they “think the Democratic Party should nominate a different candidate for president in 2012.” Joe, this is your chance. You have always wanted to be Numero Uno. You have put your name forward more than once. Now is the time to leap to the defense of your country, even if you did get five deferments from your draft board and, in 1968, were disqualified from future disruptions of your schedule for asthma. Asthma, why did you not think of that earlier?

Actually, I thought Joe would grasp the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 before he was caught plagiarizing British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock’s recollections of an early life spent in the cruel Welsh coal mines. He even claimed Mr. Kinnock’s relatives as his own. And, oh yes, there was that revelation of earlier plagiarism that Joe committed in law school. He released a 65-page file obtained from Syracuse University College of Law, containing his transcript and the details of his plagiarism. He released it, arguing that it reinforced his claim that the plagiarism has not been “malevolent.” It did disclose that he had filched fully five pages from a law review article “without quotation or attribution” for his 15-page paper. The file also disclosed that he graduated 76th out of 85, and that in his undergraduate days he got C’s or D’s in his first three semesters, with an F in ROTC.

There was one other revelation that appeared about Joe at this time. He claimed to be active in the civil rights and anti-war movements. That too was garbagespiel. During his run for the presidency in 1987, a transcript surfaced of his 1983 speech to the New Jersey Democratic State Convention wherein he rang out with, “When I was 17, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses.” He gassed on, “And my stomach turned upon hearing the voices of Faubus and Wallace. My soul raged on seeing Bull Connor and his dogs.” This, too, he later quietly disavowed. Joe Biden of the raging soul - I like that.

Still, I say, I like Joe. Today, writers at the American Spectator, National Review and the Weekly Standard are inveighing against him for apparently endorsing the brutal abortion and sterilization operations that go on in China pursuant to its one-child policy. Yes, I will agree, Joe’s regard for human rights in China appeared insouciant during his tour there. But one has to remember: Joe does not mean it. His spokesman later said he found the policy “repugnant.”

Yet, you might say, why should he run for the Democratic presidential nomination? Well, I am finishing a book, and my research indicates that all leading Democratic candidates for the presidency suffer these blots on their records. I call it the Chappaquiddick Dispensation. Ever since Teddy Kennedy eluded justice at Chappaquiddick, a scandal that would otherwise kill off a candidate can easily be transcended, thanks to the complicit national media. That is called the Taranto Principle. The press gives the Democrat a pass, and the rogues on the Democratic side proliferate. Joe is a rogue, but so are most of the other potential Democratic candidates. So Joe, I say, here is your chance. Think of the scandals in President Obama’s past. Against Joe, Mr. Obama is toast.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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