Column Gave Biden a Bum Rap
I read with great interest Moore County Republican Party Chairman Robert Levy's recent column in which he proclaims Joe Biden unfit for the presidency.
I have known the vice president for more than 20 years and feel I must respond.
In over 40 years of public service, Joe Biden has spoken millions of words, many of them ill-timed and sometimes oafish. Sarah Palin spit out more nonsense in her short, unremarkable political life, and she remains the darling of many on the right. But if being an oaf disqualifies you for public office, the halls of Congress and state houses across the land would be empty.
In fact, there is documented evidence to be found in the C-SPAN archives that show Biden giving hundreds of speeches on the floor of the U.S. Senate, using no notes and displaying mastery of a variety of complicated topics. These impressive displays are a stark contrast to his reputation as a campaign clown.
Mr. Levy throws out a conciliatory bone by agreeing with most of the world that Sarah Palin was unqualified for higher office and then foolishly suggests that she was nominated before the economic "meltdown." The meltdown, as most educated folks would agree, began with the crisis in the sub-prime mortgage lending industry, which began in 2007 - deep in the middle of the Bush administration and long before John McCain introduced the world to a half-term governor named Sarah Palin.
He lists two or three misspoken things Biden has said from the vice president's hit list of bloopers. But Levy appears to join a group that likes to use Biden as a punch line to a joke they feel no need to tell. It is a throwaway line. An assumed reality like "Paul Ryan is certainly ready," or "Donald Trump is good for the country."
He claims Biden is fundamentally dishonest, noting that Biden lifted quotes from British Labor Party Leader Neil Kinnock's speeches. I worked for Joe Biden at the time, and the Kinnock riff was part of his standard stump speech. In the dozens of times he used it, he failed to reference Kinnock only twice. More than enough, it seemed, to sink the campaign.
Mr. Levy claims these revelations were made by Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin. The story was actually broken by Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, who was tipped off by a political hit man named John Sasso, who worked for Mike Dukakis (Biden's opponent).
As for honesty and his trumpeting the qualifications of Paul Ryan? Well, a central focus for Ryan these past few weeks has been the closing of a GM plant in his district, for which he lays full blame on Barack Obama. A bald-faced lie. There are even letters from Paul Ryan's office during the Bush administration lamenting the closing of this plant.
Although I know Biden better (still not well), I have met and like Paul Ryan. I once sat on the steps of a skybox with him and his girlfriend (now his wife), Janna, at a Rolling Stones concert.
But if I wanted to have a childish argument like the one Mr. Levy seems to think we should have, I might point out that Ryan misstated - by more than an hour - the finish time he ran in the only marathon in which he ever participated. Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows their time too the exact nanosecond. Talk about dishonest!
And finally I must comment about the free advice the Moore County Republican chair wants to give the Democratic presidential ticket by suggesting Hillary Clinton would complete an unbeatable dream ticket with Obama. "Malarkey," as my pal Joe Biden would say. This has been a favorite parlor games of conservatives for years: stoking the draft-Hillary game.
The game is fueled by the belief that the more one side hates a ticket the more the other side will love them. Whenever I hear people suggest such a thing for their opponent, I always think of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. You can never trust them to act in your best interests.
Chris Larsen, who formerly worked in public relations and lobbying in Washington, lives in Southern Pines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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