I'm a big Biden supporter. Sure, that's not a particularly popular position on dKos - it's much easier for me when I talk about how I gave Ned Lamont $50, how I ran for County Commissioner on liberal values, or how I gave Larry Kissell a few months of my life.
But I like Joe Biden, in spite of his flaws. I interned for him a few years ago, and he was always honest when he talked to me - which was quite often. In addition to having personal courage - I'm sure all of you know the tragic story about his first wife and his daughter - he's a man who fights smart fights, like when he came close to making the Iraq War and eventual occupation much less of a disaster. He's never been in the DLC (double-check your source if you're thinking about debating that), and that means a lot to me. And there was one moment while I was working for him that completely sealed the deal. But then there was the Obama thing ...
Joe Biden deserves much of what he got due to "Hyginegate," or whatever you want to call his awkward comment about Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Though the comment wasn’t racist, and I think Senator Biden thinks highly of Senator Obama and the black presidential candidates before him, Joe needed a wake-up call to the realities of 21st Century politics. Rule number one seems to be saying exactly what you mean – articulately – 100 percent of the time. Otherwise, one's candidacy can be flushed down the tubes of the Interweb faster than you can say "macaca."
It’s a shame, really, that Biden’s "compliment" of Obama is overshadowing his critiques of his fellow candidates. If Joe got one thing right in that fateful interview, it is that his some of his opponents don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to Iraq. Biden says that while he may be "politically wrong" and his opponents "politically right," the approaches proposed by Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are "not very deep." History may prove his point.
Back in 2002, Biden, Clinton, and Edwards cast an ultimately wrong but understandable vote for the Iraq War Resolution. While presidential aspirations may have partially motivated all three votes, it was Senator Biden who took the (then) politically dangerous route of standing up to President Bush. The Biden-Lugar Iraq War Resolution would have made it harder for Bush to take us to war in Iraq, and could very well have delayed the war long enough for Plamegate or some other lingering doubt to halt the war altogether. Howard Dean has said that he would have voted for it.
Interestingly, the resolution was shot down from both sides of the Democratic Party. Senators Bayh and Lieberman appeared in the Rose Garden behind President Bush to support the Republican version of the resolution, while Senator Feingold and the late Paul Wellstone, in refusing to vote for any Iraq war resolution, declined to vote in favor of the Biden-Lugar option. And I hate to be even more of a player-hater, but Edwards and Clinton got up in front of cameras around this time in support of a virtual carte blanche for the President in Iraq.
Fast forward a few years. It’s late 2005, Bush beat Kerry over a year ago, and John Edwards makes the politically brilliant (though sincere) decision to apologize for his Iraq War vote. Said Iraq War is now the Iraq Occupation, and in a year or so, even hawkish Hillary will have to say that the war was a mistake. But while most Democrats are falling over one another to criticize President Bush, or to say "Oops!" in the most poignant way possible, or to put together their presidential campaign, Joe Biden is working on a plan for Iraq.
The Biden-Gelb Plan for Iraq is quite possibly one of the only actual plans for peace and eventual withdraw from our Mesopotamian occupation. It’s not a surge, and it’s not an arbitrary withdraw date. Instead, the plan outlines a federalized solution to solve the problems of a country that no longer works. It is consistent with the Iraqi constitution, and its main goals are peace, prosperity, and the withdraw of U.S. forces. It’s not a partition, but it does increase regional autonomy. The plan would share oil revenues and would hopefully create jobs.
Though the plan isn’t perfect, and Biden admits that it’s not a great option to be faced with, few have accepted his challenge to find an alternative. It may be the best option, and having the plan itself says something about Biden– he’s looked at the problem, and he’s not presenting a fantasy scenario or some ploy to get votes. His hard choice is a reality-based proposal, another third way in a land of false dichotomies. There’s something presidential in being able to make a hard choice when you desperately want other, rosier options to work.
The Obama comment won’t be the end of Biden’s campaign, and that’s a blessing. Once the public gets sick of idiotic gaffs, madrassa rumors, and stories about John Edwards’s 26,000 square foot mansion, they’re going to want to hear a real, detailed plan for Iraq. Verily, in the living rooms of Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden and his supporters will have a lot more to talk about than the other candidates, Democrat or Republican.
I saw Joe speak in South Carolina a few weeks ago, and our small group of 13 even had dinner at a Huddle House. That's Joe - one of the few truly "middle-class" members of the Senate. He's improved his speaking style dramatically, so I don't think the Democratic primary will be deprived of its elder statesman and an important voice on Iraq. Dire as it may seem, if the rest of the candidates aren’t challenged by Biden to produce a real policy on Iraq instead of soundbytes, the next four years may end up being worse than the last four.
Why is Biden an elder statesman? Here's my story - my "Biden moment." When I was working on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there was one function the committee hosted at which I had to escort about half of Europe's diplomatic corps to a reception in the Capitol building. All of these diplomats love Biden, and couldn't wait to hear him speak. They'll work with Joe to repair the extensive damage done to our foreign relations by W. Joe gave an excellent speech, and the diplomatic corps went ga-ga. Only Biden, Clark, or perhaps Richardson has what it takes to get Europe back on our side to clean up W's mess. And that, my friends, was the moment I became a Biden supporter.
Since there's 30 minutes before the FEC deadline, I'll put up a fundraising link, though I'm not expecting much from it. What's more important to me is that a few more people give Biden a chance - even if you still like Obama, Edwards, or Richardson more.
I am trying to get Biden to come here to talk about the bankruptcy bill. At the very least he'd dispell the myth that he was one of the main parties behind the bill. There were a few brave diaries back in 2005 that really went into the meat and potatoes of the bankruptcy bill - and while I don't agree with some of Biden's votes, the narrative and the actual cross-table of votes reflects better on Biden than the D-MBNA crap.
Now, I'm not one of the guys who got an e-mail from the Biden campaign last Saturday and waited 7 days to post my first diary - I've been here awhile. And I'm well aware of the anti-Biden venom. I would have made a post sooner, but I thought the Obama thing was about as stupid as everybody else did. Hell, I may vote for Obama. But I think Joe deserves a fair shake. I promise I'll follow this (eventually) with a diary on the bankruptcy bill.