We just watched Barack Obama introduce us to the “next President Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden.” Perhaps the Senator from Delaware negotiated a little title inflation in his deal. Then, Biden introduced us, in a far more Freudian slip of the tongue, to “Barack America.” He then proceeded to beat John McCain with, as Keith Olbermann said, “a table leg. Seven of them.
Whooooooooooh Doggies! We got us a Sen. Hothead of our very own!! And not a moment too soon. Issue that dude an Exxon card that only works in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. We’ll see you back in Springfield around Halloween, Joe. You’ll be just what the doctor ordered.
I’m overjoyed. Overjoyed because he is such a perfect fit for Obama. Overjoyed because the louder Joe Biden is, the more easily we can put the Clintons behind us.
I’m also worried as a heart attack. Worried because Biden is obviously the loosest cannon that’s been allowed to roll around the deck of a Presidential campaign since ……..well, certainly since I was born. But worried more because the McCain campaign now can’t help but go completely ad hominem and make the question about character: John McCain’s, and Obama’s and (especially Biden’s) lack thereof. The Wikipedia entry on Biden’s 1988 campaign pretty much sums up my worst fears:
Controversy emerged during Biden’s candidacy ; he ended his presidential campaign on September 23, 1987 after being accused of plagiarism. Though he had correctly credited the original author in all speeches but one, the one where he failed to make mention of the originator was caught on video. In the video Biden is filmed repeating a stump speech by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnockwith only minor modifications. “Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife . . . is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? . . . Is it because they didn’t work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It’s because they didn’t have a platform on which to stand.” After Biden withdrew from the race it was learned that he had correctly credited Kinnock on other occasions. But in the Iowa speech that was recorded and distributed to reporters (with a parallel video of Kinnock) by aides to Michael Dukakis, the eventual nominee, he failed to do so. Dukakis fired John Sasso, his campaign manager and long-time Chief of Staff, but Biden’s campaign could not recover.
As a part of this controversy, it was revealed that Biden had been involved in a similar incident during his first year at Syracuse UniversityLaw School in 1965. Biden initially received an “F” in an introductory class on legal methodology for writing a paper relying almost exclusively on a single Fordham Law Review article, which he had cited. Biden was allowed to repeat the course and passed with high marks.After ending his Presidential campaign, Biden requested the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Delaware Supreme Court review the issue. The Board concluded on December 21, 1987, after Biden had withdrawn, that the senator had not violated any rules, although Biden did not release this result until May 1989.[5
I’m unfortunately old enough to remember how nasty this non-scandal got in 1988. I can find it in myself to be optimistic about how it will wash 20 years later, but only caustiously so. We’ll certainly find out soon enough.