Joe Biden Then and Now

Several decades ago I had the opportunity meet, and briefly work in conjunction with then Delaware Senator Joe Biden. It had to do with a change to the U.S. Code that was being sought in order to grant Honorary U.S. Citizenship to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and humanitarian known for his successful efforts to rescue somewhere between tens of thousands and one hundred thousand Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary  during the Holocaust.

I had returned to law school after a decade in the private sector. One of my Professors had been approached by the law firm of Davis Polk to become involved in the lobbying effort needed to add the necessary Code change to pending legislation. Because I had previously co-founded a PAC (Political Action Committee) and had spent time meeting with and advocating before members of Congress, my Professor enlisted me in the project.

Which is how I came to meet Senator Biden.

Prior to that personal experience, I only knew of the Senator as a dedicated father who, after the loss of his wife and daughter in an auto accident, remained in the Senate only upon deciding to daily commute to Washington from his home in Wilmington, Delaware via AMTRAK in order to be there and raise his two surviving sons, also seriously injured in the tragic accident.

I found the Senator to be a decent man, polite, personable and genuinely interested in the issue before him. He readily put his energies behind supporting our goal which was ultimately a success. So it saddens me to see a once respected public servant make a fool out of himself, and the office of the Vice President, by “staying too long at the fair.”

It has been evident for some time now that Vice President Biden has become, like Madonna, someone who was once appropriately positioned in their career choice but, unable to face the realities and natural limitations of the aging process, is unable to timely “exit stage left.” What remains in such situations are self-imposed caricatures of once talented individuals.

In Madonna’s case it shows up as a scantily clad, religion-bashing middle-aged woman trying to look like a teenager. Yet more tragically, in the Vice President’s case, it shows up as his telling a partially African American audience in North Carolina this week that Mitt Romney wants to “put y’all back in chains” and condescendingly saying those words in a speech pattern that mimics how many African Americans often speak. Followed by a pathetic and again, condescending, imitation of the ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter standing nearby.

I would prefer to remember Senator Biden as he was at his best and be done with this travesty of a political figure he has become. That option appears not to be a viable, or likely, as long as this Administration does what it did in reaction to the Vice President’s most recent inexcusable gaffes by “doubling down” in support of such mockery. The President’s refusal to face the reality that the Vice President is no longer fit to serve is yet one more indication that President Obama is out of touch, indifferent to what is best for the Nation, and determined to win at any cost.

Sadly, in this instance, the cost is the ever-increasing humiliation of Joe Biden and the degradation of the Office of the Vice President.

Note: Since publication of this post at 1PM Eastern, a story has broken that Vice President Biden has now gotten the century wrong in a speech given earlier today.

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