Joe Biden

by Jay Nordlinger

Last week from Tampa, I wrote this:

A word about the Romney film — the biographical film. I thought, “If you have to talk about illness, and if you have to talk about how much you love your wife — is it really worth running for president?”

Oprah’s America, which is to say, modern America, is not for everyone.

Biden had a film too. It showed him with his head bowed at the graves of his first wife and a daughter, I believe. Personally, I find this sort of thing cheap and appalling. But it is certainly modern America.

When I see him now, I can’t help thinking he’ll burst out with, “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains!”

He said that the American people “literally stood on the brink of a new depression.” There were many more false literallys to come . . .

He spoke of the “enormity” of Obama’s heart — a harsher judgment on this president than any I heard in Tampa.

Repeatedly, he referred to the president as “Barack.” At least he’s consistent in this. As I mentioned earlier today, I think, this habit of Biden’s was the impetus of an essay I wrote two years ago: “‘Barack and I’: What’s in a first name?

When Biden said he was going to “focus on two crises,” I thought, “Nixon had six.”

The opportunity to kill bin Laden was a crisis?

I may misunderstand the decision to kill bin Laden — its difficulty. I’m not being falsely modest or rhetorical. I really mean it: I may misunderstand it. But, in Biden’s telling, “Admiral McRaven looked [the president] in the eye and said, ‘Sir, we can get this job done.’”

I just don’t understand the bravery — the extraordinariness — of this decision. Isn’t that what Bush and then Obama had waited for, for ten years? The word, “Yeah, we can have his head on a pike”?

I remember what a Bush national-security aide told me in 2004. Campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, Wesley Clark was saying that the Bushies weren’t trying very hard to get bin Laden. The aide said, “First, that’s nonsense — we are. But second, our critics are always saying we’re lowdown political beings. If that’s true — wouldn’t we be trying our hardest to kill bin Laden? Would that not help us, politically? I mean, come on . . .”

Biden made hay out of a Romney statement in 2007. Said Romney (according to Biden), “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just to catch one person.”

I had a memory — another one! This involves another national-security aide — in fact, the national-security adviser. In a 2002 interview, Condoleezza Rice told me it was not critical to get bin Laden. It would be symbolically pleasing, of course. But not critical to the war effort. We had bigger fish to fry: the leveling of al-Qaeda. But, yeah, bin Laden would be a nice catch.

I think that was exactly right.

Biden said the following about the killing of bin Laden: “Literally, it was about healing an unbearable wound — a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart.” And that wound, said Biden, thanks to the raid, was healed.

My question: How does he know that? How does he know any of this?

He began sentences, over and over, with “Folks . . .” “Folks . . .” “Folks . . .” I know he’s supposed to be a big Man of the People and all, but this struck me as condescending.

I’m not a big one for criticizing speeches for going on too long. But I really think this one did. And I could not understand, or agree with, the great praise of the speech by talking heads at the end of the evening.

Anyway, my two cents — or just a couple of notes — on the vice-presidential address. 

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