In the view of this longtime skeptic, Biden has grown up tremendously in the four months since he withdrew from the presidential race amid a swirl of controversy about his exaggeration of his academic record and his alleged plagiarism.
The Biden I saw in a two-hour interview last week had no time for self-pity or self-justification. He was excited about the trip he was about to begin to Western Europe and the scheduled meetings with the leaders of Britain, France, West Germany and the NATO forces. He was looking ahead to a Senate year in which he will share the gavel in the hearings on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces INF Treaty and later conduct hearings on the War Powers Act and the procedures for committing U.S. forces in nonnuclear conflicts.
He has begun impressively by running the Judiciary Committee hearings on the Supreme Court nominations of Judges Robert H. Bork and Anthony Kennedy with skill, tact and fairness that earned bipartisan praise. In leading the effort that defeated Bork and set the stage for confirmation of Kennedy, Biden rose above partisanship and narrow ideology.
He does not exaggerate when he says those hearings helped educate the nation on the qualities that are vital in a Supreme Court justice and the proper role of the Senate in filling court vacancies. They also made it clear to everyone, including the Supreme Court, that a national consensus exists on the civil-rights gains the high court certified during the past generation.
After listening to him, I believe that Biden is just as well prepared to use the 1988 Foreign Relations Committee hearings for a similar educational purpose: ”to reestablish an essential bipartisan center . . . that can sustain foreign policy on a stable basis.”
This was after he screwed up and dropped out of the ’88 race. This was 20 years ago. Since then he’s been all over the world using the same kind of skills. He’s been something of a lost goat in this election (OMG, Goat!), but his long experience dealing with a wide variety of issues will be an asset to Obama in the Presidency.
The fact that he doesn’t have a vagina and wasn’t a POW has been something of an impediment to getting people to talk about his experience, but since I can see beyond such things, despite their obvious appeal, there ya go.
One thing about the experience stuff. Biden has been a fighter for his causes, often quite moderate, over the past 30+ years. McCain is in the same boat, occasionally bucking against insane Republican policies. Occasionally. Obama, regardless if you hate him for it or not, has been on the same path, fighting for the same things, his entire career. Palin is the odd one out here, with such a short, sporadic history you can only guess where she’ll go from here. Evidence has shown a great deal of flippity-floppity in the last two years, so who knows what 20 more in power would bring.
With Biden we know. With McCain we know. With Obama we know. With Palin we don’t. I know VPs don’t mean a great deal (unless you have faux concern for their emotional well being), but the comparison here between the tickets is such as joke that…well…people are talking about lipstick and farm animals, instead of foreign policy and violence against women.
Speaking of which, I wonder if Palin is against VAWA. And I wonder when anyone will get the chance to ask her.