I have not obsessed over this, it just formed in my head during a hot night of erratic sleep. I was not a Biden guy, but I find myself increasingly comfortable with the pick and liking him more as I learn about him and watch him. For someone who had to jump into a new and high-pressure situation and try to keep his balance, Biden is doing surprisingly well. That bodes well for his response to the surprises and challenges a Vice President inevitably must face. So here are…
Ten Random Reasons to Like Joe Biden
1. He has a massive and photogenic family. Is that important? Not really, but hey, why not? People love pictures of children and puppies, is that so bad?
2. He is wonderfully kind to his mother. The interaction between Biden and his mother as he was leaving for Springfield was authentically touching. His mother clearly was telling him to take care of himself and he was assuring her, “I will Ma, don’t worry”.
3. He is a confident and cordial man. It takes self-confidence to walk into a room of foreign leaders, some of them quite gnarly, and assume that in a short while all parties will be getting along. Vice Presidents can serve as roving Ambassadors, if they have sufficient personal skills. Can anyone name a more personable Vice President during the last twenty-five years? Gotcha.
4. He is not afraid to speak in public, and he does it well. With only a few days to adjust to his role as presumptive Vice Presidential candidate, interrupted by lots of events, not much time to write a speech, and having to follow Bill Clinton delivering one of the most important speeches of his life, Biden seemed at ease. That is quite an accomplishment. Sort of like taking an oral exam in Hell.
5. He clearly loves and admires his accomplished wife. You’ve got to like a man who speaks openly and lovingly about his wife and her many accomplishments.
6. Jill Biden is a passionate advocate of women’s health and educational access. The wife of a Vice President has a chance to be an eloquent voice for issues she cares deeply about. Jill Biden’s advocacy of women’s health issues, notably breast cancer and health education for the young, and her alarm at the increasingly prohibitive costs of higher education are critical national issues which need a passionate champion.
7. Biden has extensive experience with foreign leaders and international issues. There is much to be said for personal background knowledge of regions and personalities. Biden has devoted a lot of attention to international issues, which should provide Obama with valuable background data.
8. This is the last job Biden wants, instead of hoping to become President. In 2016 Biden will be 73. This job will be the crowning achievement of his career. He will not be wasting time positioning himself for his own Presidential run. Could anyone say the same about Romney?
9. He appears comfortable in his own skin. Biden seems at ease with himself. Yes, he talks a lot and jokes a lot and sometimes his jokes fall flat, but if 999 out of a 1000 jokes help put others at ease, isn’t it worth the risk? Because he is at ease, others relax around him.
10. He speaks his mind. A man who can tell Milosevic, to his face, that he considers him a war criminal, is a man able to speak his mind. I am curious about the context of that conversation, but most people agree. Without the bluster and raving of the Bush administration, stating the obvious can sometimes clarify a situation.
There are undoubtedly reasons to criticize Biden, but consider the alternatives:
Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Ridge, Lieberman, Carly Fiorina… need I say more?
Biden will be attacked from the left and the right, which is entirely appropriate. It comes with the job. I would just suggest that he be viewed in the context of the totality of his years of public service, rather than be judged by one or two issues. Consider the alternatives: McCain, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney? I rest my case.