Will Joe Biden of Delaware be the Democratic nominee for vice-president?
The first time I heard about Senator Biden was during his abortive run for the presidency in the 1988 cycle. He pulled out in 1987 after he mistakenly used words from a British politician without attribution (which he had provided on countless other occasions).
His failure in the race for the White House that year turned out to be providential for the country. As the chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee he was able – once out of the race – to use his energy and full attention in leading the charge to reject Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Shortly thereafter he became seriously ill with a brain aneurism. He said at the time he'd been having headaches during the presidential campaign but had ignored them. Biden might have died had he not been forced from the race.
I met him during that campaign. Then-U.S. Congressman Les AuCoin was chairing Biden's Oregon effort (and part of his circle of national advisers) and I was a high school student volunteering for AuCoin. So the congressman and his staff let me tag along when Biden came to Portland for an event. What has always stood out for me from that encounter was how Biden – a Roman Catholic – talked about his faith as part of his stump speech.
There's a line that he used in a debate earlier this year when he was running for president again:
Trust the American people. They're ready. They're ready to get up. There's a hymn in my church -- our church -- some of us here -- that says, may he raise you up on eagles wings and bury you on the breath of dawn, and let the light shine. It's time to raise this country up.
He used nearly that exact line back in 1986 (or 87 – whenever it was he came to Oregon).
Faith has clearly been an important part of his life.
Biden is a progressive and thought of as extraordinarily intelligent (if not a wee bit too talkative). He might be one of the only politicians in America that lists the on-going genocide in Darfur as one of his top issues. He's not on the same page as Barack Obama on all the issues but a vice-president shouldn't be a clone or a yes-man. I'm convinced he would serve an Obama Administration well in nearly any capacity.