Joe Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for most of my 2-1/2 years (October 1992 to May 1995) as a committee staffer for Senator Hatch. Now that I’m back from vacation, I’d like to offer some quick comments on Biden based on that exposure to him:
On the one hand, even by the high standards of politicians, Biden is a phenomenon of a bloviating gasbag. Words like “verbose” and “rambling” don’t begin to describe the logorrhea. The most frightening words I ever heard on the floor of the Senate chamber were Biden’s request to speak for an unlimited time (which, when granted, he then strove to exceed).
Relatedly, I have never seen any evidence that Biden is capable of serious and disciplined thought. (By contrast, Sarah Palin was very impressive and substantive in the one extended interview I’ve seen of her, and secondhand word from campaign insiders is very encouraging.) My guess is that Biden’s vaunted foreign-policy experience may mean that he’s on first-name terms with the foreign minister of Wheretheheckistan and has memorized an eight-point plan for peace in Dystopia, but I’d be extremely surprised if he’s troubled himself to form a coherent (much less sound) understanding of America’s foreign-policy interests and of how to advance them. As Mark Steyn puts it, “real people don’t define ‘experience’ as appearing on unwatched Sunday-morning talk shows every week for 35 years and having been around long enough to have got both the War on Terror and the Cold War wrong.”
On the other hand, Biden is a savvy politician with (usually) an affable, ordinary-Joe demeanor. He’s clearly happy as a warrior for Obama. And the terrible family tragedy that he endured at the outset of his Senate career, and the grace with which he handled it, deserve our compassion and admiration.