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More On Biden

Andrew Ferguson wrote a review of his book last year, as part of a longer piece. John McCormack pulls out the nut grafs:

What does a discerning reader learn from Biden's book that we didn't already know? Perhaps not much, if you're a regular watcher of C-SPAN or a longtime resident of Delaware. But there is something unforgettable about watching the man emerge on the page. His legendary self-regard becomes more impressive when the reader sees it in typescript, undistracted by the smile and the hair plugs. Biden quotes at great length from letters of recommendation he received as a young man, when far-sighted professors wrote movingly of his "sharp and incisive intellect" and his "highly developed sense of responsibility." These qualities have proved to be more of a burden than you might think, Biden admits. "I've made life difficult for myself," he writes, "by putting intellectual consistency and personal principle above expediency."

Yes, many Biden fans might tag these as the greatest of his gifts. Biden himself isn't so sure. After a little hemming and hawing--is it his intelligence that he most admires, or his commitment to principle, or his insistence on calling 'em as he sees 'em, or what?--he decides that his greatest personal and political virtue is probably his integrity. Tough call. But his wife seems to agree. He recounts one difficult episode in which she said as much. "Of all the things to attack you on," she said, almost in tears. "Your integrity?"

This lachrymose moment came during Biden's aborted presidential campaign in 1988, when reporters discovered several instances of plagiarism in his campaign speeches and in his law school record. Biden rehearses the episode in tormenting, if selective, detail, and true to campaign-book form, his account serves as the emotional center of the book. The memoir of every presidential candidate must describe a Political Time of Testing, some point at which, if the narrative arc is to prove satisfying, the hero encounters criticism, most of it unjust, but then rallies, overcomes hardship and misfortune and the petty, self-serving attacks of enemies, and emerges chastened but wiser--and, come to think of it, more qualified to lead the greatest nation on earth.

Is there something about pompous windbags that somehow makes them more electable? If so, then maybe an Obama/Biden ticket has a chance.


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ken anthony wrote:

Biden has something in common with Putin then...

Putin defends his PhD dissertation in “strategic planning” at St. Petersburg’s Mining Institute. Later, this document proves to have been plagiarized from a KGB translation of work by U.S. professors published many years earlier.

Is it time for Biden to look into Putins eyes yet?

Recently, reading up on the subject of psychopathy, I was astonished to find they make up as much as 1% of the population and are often very successful. The percentage is much higher in politicians. Since the defining characteristic is lack of empathy I find it rather sobering. Putin is definitely one. Biden isn't as far as I can tell. Obama, I haven't decided, but would love to have him sit down with a clinical psychologists trained to test for it.

Martin wrote:

"ken anthony wrote:

Putin defends his PhD dissertation in “strategic planning” at St. Petersburg’s Mining Institute. Later, this document proves to have been plagiarized from a KGB translation of work by U.S. professors published many years earlier."

That doesn't surprise me. It must be a great advantage, as a graduate student, to have the authority to arrest your dissertation committee.

The odd thing about Biden is that, plaigarism and pomposity aside, he is a little bit better than most of his party collegues in the Senate. If he goes on at great length about his integrity, well, he does have a little (not much, probably). Ted Kennedy doesn't talk about integrity at all, for the simple reason that he has none at all. And Biden may have on occasion, once or twice, said something I agree with. But then, given how he blathers on at length, that would be bound to happen eventually.

Okay, that's about as much of a defence I can muster for the man. I think Veep picks are irrelevant to the race anyway. People mostly vote for the top of the ticket. Obama will win or lose based on his own merits, or rather, as Obama has no merits, he will win or lose on McCain's faults.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 24, 2008 10:06 AM.

The Biden Pick Unifies The Party was the previous entry in this blog.

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