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Dominic Lawson writes in The Independent:  Joseph Robinette Biden – known to all as "Joe" – was once the most talked about American politician in Britain. Unfortunately for the senior Delaware Senator, all the talk was accompanied by incredulous laughter.

As part of his Presidential campaign 20 years ago, he lifted verbatim and without attribution Neil Kinnock's celebrated remarks: "Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to a University ... was it because all our predecessors were thick, those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up to play football?"


Biden told an audience at an Iowa fairground: "I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden's the first in his family ever to go to University ... is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright... who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football?"

Note the overt claim to spontaneity at the outset of the plagiarism; but it wasn't just that which left his run for the Presidency buried under an avalanche of ridicule. Read more.

Question: Is Joe Biden a liability or an assset? Was he chosen for his experience or to balance the ticket? And given the comments on Sarah Palin, what conclusions could we draw from the VP debate?


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iber wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 09:56 am (UTC)
I don't have a very good understanding of Biden as a whole. I haven't researched him at all, nor have I heard any decent discussion of him in any of my classes. It doesn't help that the media has practically ignored him.

If anything, Biden comes more off as an asset than a liability. From how I see it, he was chosen to balance Obama's lack of experience in foreign policy as well as being a long standing member of Congress. Although, one of my professors has mocked Biden (as well as McCain, Obama and Palin...) on his lack of knowledge on foreign affairs, especially in the Middle East... although that doesn't surprise me that the average politician doesn't know that much about the Middle East, especially if we were to look at Bush's Cabinet. But I digress... the point in the matter is he can claim understanding in foreign policy, even though there is a question of how extensive and actual useful his knowledge is. To the average voter, this shows a sense of competency, and that's all the care about besides their moral appearance.

Those are his overall strengths, but from the media standpoint, he's not that interesting. He just another old white guy who's been in Congress for so long that he doesn't warrant the media's attention, especially compared to the news media blitz that surrounded the announcement of Palin's nomination. This is his potential liability compared to Palin in my eyes... although the amount of media could be labeled as both a positive or a negative depending on how you look at things.

...and given Palin, I do think the VP debates are going to be a joke. If anything, we'll get a good/better taste of Biden in the media's eye, as well as get a good sample of Palin's politics rather than her mystique.
robertseymour wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
Is it really important who the VP is? The President often hardly seems in charge of anything (look at what's happening now with the financial bailout) let alone the VP. And all this "heartbeat away from the White House" stuff is just alarmist. We're voting for a candidate, not a ticket, no matter what people say.
akasa wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
With McCain's age and past health issues, including skin cancer, yes it is important.
credendovides wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
I saw an artical on CNN that put the actuarial chance of Palin being president should the McCain/Palin ticket win at around 1 in 5.

It would be interesting to see a similar number for the Obama ticket, though much less likely would likely be it. So the importance of VP is rather one sided for people that care about that.
grinninfoole wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying:

the John McCain is much likelier to die in the next four years than Obama, so his choice of VP naturally seems more important?


only Obama supporters will see this a valid issue?
sweetseadragon wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
I have heard some people discuss the possibility of assassination so, yes.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 30th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
grinninfoole wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 03:45 am (UTC)
Cheney has wielded great power in this administration, but that is entirely because President Bush chose to allow him to do so. Constitutionally, the VP has no power, other than voting in ties in the Senate.
pennyann wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Yes, but Cheney didn't pay any attention to what the Constitution limited him to doing. He held meeting with oil people to help develop the administration's policies on energy, he was instrumental in forging the administration's stance on torture. Oh, and don't forget, he made it the VP's job to out CIA operatives.
grinninfoole wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
I agree that Cheney has little respect for the Constitution. However, my point is that the office of Vice President has no legal authority to do anything, and if President Bush wished to do so, he could close Cheney down in a minute. All of Cheney's power has been delegated by the President.

As I type this, it occurs to me to wonder what Cheney's office budget is? Money = power, especially in Washington DC. I wonder if Congress could have trimmed his sails by refusing to allocate funds for him.
pennyann wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks to how much Dick Cheney has changed the Vice Presidency and the role of the VP... you better believe it is important.
beckyzoole wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
Joe Biden is famous for his gaffes. When he comes out with a new malapropism, that's "just Joe being Joe". (Kind of like Yogi Berra.) But he has a very good track record in the Senate. I'm sure he was chosen for his experience.
sweetseadragon wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
Biden openly admits his verbal blunders so I don't really think this is an issue. He is an incredible asset! Not only can he actually speak thoughtfully and sincerely (unlike Palin) he has been committed to women's rights. He also has a good understanding of our past history and interaction with Afghanistan (around the time of the Soviet occupation) which most people seem to not know plus the realities of what is happening in Waziristan.
only1opinion wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
Biden has made some "foot in mouth" type statements. He has even been known to be incorrect, possibly untruthful. Should that concern the American people? Probably. Does it seem to have the same effect as Palin's odd, sometimes incoherent answers to questions? No.

I believe that the Obama supporters are looking at Biden as a source of experience with foreign policy that Obama lacks. That is not to say that Obama doesn't have the knowledge, many people believe that he held his own in that area during the debate last week. However, knowledge is not the same as experience.

While Bidens crazy, sometimes untruthful or incorrect, and often ignorant sounding remarks can make people tilt their heads in question, he remains more of an asset, especially in the eyes of people who were looking to round out Obama's knowledge with experience.

As to the upcoming debates... I'm using the DVR to tape them, and then I'll sit down with my husband to watch it together. It will either be interesting and dramatic, or an overall comedy of errors. We'll make popcorn. I have to admit, however, that I'm hoping it'll show a more stable side to both VP candidates. I'd like to have the opportunity to view their good sides, because what we here about most is their foibles. Maybe they'll surprise us all.
adamwolf wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
How many people have done 'I had a dream' or 'Ich bin ein Berliner' verbatim and without credit? When you think something is know to the group of people you speak to, you're making a cultural reference. That's not plagiarism at all.
absurdhero wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
I don't think your average Iowan is up on their Neil Kinnock. On the other hand, I think it's pointless to expect original rhetoric from every speech. It's hard to say something that hasn't been said some other way by some other person.
wingedelf wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Question: Is Joe Biden a liability or an assset? Was he chosen for his experience or to balance the ticket? And given the comments on Sarah Palin, what conclusions could we draw from the VP debate?

Some of column A, some of column B. Biden is definitely experienced, and can take some of the focus on Obama's comparative lack of federal exposure; and is fairly well regarded on domestic and international affairs. He's also something of an odd duck and loose cannon, so I'd think the general guidelines he's been given are along the lines of "don't say anything too stupid which will embarrass us."

With regard to the VP debate, I'll be watching it from something of the trainwreck perspective. The trick for Biden, I think, as Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, noted, will be to shut up long enough to let Palin make a sufficient fool of herself.
ysabetwordsmith wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
First, never trust any politician. Just look for ones that will do less damage.

>> Is Joe Biden a liability or an assset? <<

Probably an asset, because ...

>> Was he chosen for his experience or to balance the ticket? <<

... he has experience and grounding in different areas than Obama. That's usually a good idea.

>> And given the comments on Sarah Palin, what conclusions could we draw from the VP debate? <<

That she doesn't know what she's doing and doesn't belong in the VP position.
mystery_spell wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Joe Biden is such an odd choice for Vice President. Considering Obama's slogan is "Change" and all, Biden would not mean anything about bringing change about. He's been around forever, and now all of a sudden, he's going to change things? That's just odd really. A bit of a contradiction.

If he was chosen for his experience, then it throws the whole "change" thing out of the window. If he was chosen for balance, the same is true.
grace_om wrote:
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Joe Biden's history of "mis-speaking" has clearly hampered his career. But it would be a huge mistake to write him off as a buffoon. He is a smart, knowledgeable, and experienced politician.

Obama has said that he picked Biden to help him *govern*, not to help him get elected.

Do you think McCain could say the same about Sarah Palin? Really?

As for the debate... If Biden makes a gaff or two, it seems unlikely to hurt him -- after all, people expect that from him. But I bet he can at least *make sense*. OTOH, if Palin is as incoherent as she has shown herself to be in interviews, it will hurt McCain's campaign. If she squeaks through, it probably won't hurt. But it's very hard to imagine her performing well enough to convince currently undecided voters that she's really up to taking on the presidency (should that become necessary).
gnerland wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Joe Biden adds zero
From the minute that the two candidates secured their respective nominations, McCain has hammered Obama on his experience. Until now, Obama knows how to do one thing in Washington- be a Senator. He does not know how to run an executive branch of anything. When he could have added a governor to his ticket or even a big city mayor, he chose... a Senator who has known nothing but Senator-ing since he was 29. Biden adds nothing to the skill set of the ticket and will not likely convince a single voter who was undecided before the DNC to vote for Obama. For all of Palin's faults, she will convince more disaffected far right Republicans to go to the polls, adding votes for McCain. It was a poor choice by Obama. It will not hurt his campaign (unless Biden implodes on Thursday), but it will not help.
mercaque wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
With respect, I think that article is a bit of a hatchet job. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty on Biden's record that's fair game for criticism, such as his votes on both Iraq wars, or his idea to "federalize" Iraq. BUT you can't ask a question like "Why should anyone trust Joe Biden's foreign policy experience?" without even a breath stopping to mention his early leadership against Bosnian genocide or the fact that he received the following rave endorsement from a former U.S. ambassador to Romania:

Unlike some of the other visitors whose approach was helpful but remarkably relaxed, Biden was a whirlwind of inquiry, analysis and commentary from the time he landed at Otopeni airport. On the 20 minute drive into the city, he quizzed me on Romanian attitudes, the status of various government leaders, and the inside story on Romania’s foreign policy toward Slobodan Milosevic, who was still in power next door in Yugoslavia. Because Biden has known all the major Romanian leaders since the dictator Ceausescu, the questions were Ph.D. level, not Romania 101. That was remarkable in itself since he is no specialist on Romania; he could do the same, landing in dozens of nations around the world.


But Biden was already concerned that the world’s first observation of the extraordinary precision of America’s new high-tech weaponry, particularly launched from the air, would create destabilizing fear in countries like China. Just months after the Kosovo war had ended, he was looking around the next corner — while not losing focus on the immediate issues.

By not even addressing this, Lawson leaves a massive gaping hole in his critique of Biden. It's like writing a criticism of Francis Ford Coppola's directing career without ever mentioning the first two Godfather movies or Apocalypse Now.

Moreover, I think it's a fallacy to equate Biden's FDR slip with Palin's fumbling around in the Couric interview. Biden flubbed a historical detail in the context of a larger, and completely sensible point: that the bailout package negotiations were in shambles because President Bush didn't clearly explain what was going on to the American people, and therefore no public support existed for the plan.

Palin, by contrast, was trying to explain a major aspect of her credentials: several Republican surrogates had disseminated the talking point that Palin had foreign policy experience because "Alaska is right next to Russia." But when Couric asked for specifics, to say Palin's response was "not factually incorrect" and "not articulate" is being laughably generous. She was incoherent. Let's also not forget that Palin seemed to blank when Charlie Gibson asked her about the Bush Doctrine two weeks ago. These are not misstatements - they reveal her understanding of policy, or lack thereof.

Therefore, as far as governing goes: I think Biden will make an excellent VP. If I were President, I'd want him in my ear when I'm making decisions, especially in world affairs. Even though he voted for the Iraq war, he nevertheless accurately predicted a lot of the fallout. Had the Bush administration listened to Biden instead of Cheney, I sincerely believe the situation would not be as bad as it is today.

As far as the VP debate goes: I genuinely have no idea how Biden will do. His blunt speaking style is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he was responsible for some of the most devastatingly witty lines in the Democratic primary debates. He famously destroyed Rudy Giuliani with his "noun, verb, 9/11" quip. On the other hand, he's had some spectacular verbal blunders in his career, and if he uses his sarcastic sense of humor against Palin it will undoubtedly earn him accuations of sexism. He could easily be his own worst enemy.

So my extremely long-winded answer comes to this conclusion: should Obama/Biden be elected, I believe Biden will be a TREMENDOUS asset inside the White House. But he may be a liability for them actually making it there.
grinninfoole wrote:
Oct. 1st, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
Honestly, I'm not impressed by Biden, and I don't know why Obama chose him. His plagiarism and other gaffes over the years have led me to view him with mild contempt. I'm voting for Obama because I'm impressed by him, and I don't think it's likely that Biden will take over.
dreadfulpenny81 wrote:
Oct. 2nd, 2008 09:56 am (UTC)
What People Don't Know CAN Hurt Them
I'm surprised that many voters here don't know the REAL facts about the Obama campaign and its choice of VP in Joe Biden.
First of all, Barack Obama didn't pick Joe Biden; Jim Johnson, former Fannie Mae CEO chose him because Johnson was tapped by the Obama campaign. Funny how that happens; Obama has two former Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac CEO's on his staff, both of which resigned under strained circumstances (Johnson resigned because it was brought to light that he was getting "sweetheart deals" from Countrywide and Frank Raines -Obama's Economic Advisor- resigned because of "accounting irregularities" or cooking the books). And right after choosing Obama's VP, Johnson resigned because he didn't want his scandalous past to "distract" voters from the Obama campaign. And isn't it just an ironic coincidence that Barack Obama receives the second hightest amount of PAC AND individual donations from Fannie and Freddie? The top three congressmen who get the highest amounts are (surprise, surprise) DEMOCRATS!
Oh, and what about the fact that Joe Biden's son took bribes for Daddy Dearest to the tune of $400,000? Oh yes! Joe Biden was being lobbied by credit card companies when legislation was on the table to make it harder for people to file for bankruptcy and at the same time, the same company that was lobbying Joe was bribing his son (they had him on the payroll as a "consultant"). http://www.charlotteobserver.com/politics/story/149712.html
But of course you don't see the mainstream media talk about all this. Why not? Because they've been drinking the Kool-Aid, just like everyone else who is suffering from "Obama fever".
Wake up, people! If you want a President who supports infanticide and is friends with terrorists and a VP who doesn't know that we didn't have televisions during the Great Depression and whose son took bribes for him, then by all means, waste your vote and wreck this country even more!
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