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Joe Biden

Joe Biden (1942- ) is an American senator from the state of Delaware. In 2008 Barack Obama chose him to run as his vice president. Biden has been in the Senate since 1973, when Obama was just 11 and Biden himself only 30. Only six senators have been there longer.

Although he is from a small state, he has been in the Senate long enough to have risen to the top of some powerful committees, particularly the Foreign Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

Biden helps to make up for some of Obama’s weaknesses:

  • He has a great knowledge of foreign affairs, probably more than John McCain.
  • He is a good debater. Obama is a great speaker but not as sharp a debater as Biden.
  • He has been in Washington for over 30 years, so he knows how it works inside-out.
  • He is a white Catholic with working-class roots in Pennsylvania – just the sort of people Obama needs but has trouble reaching.
  • Biden is acceptable to the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.

Biden’s mouth gets him into trouble sometimes:

  • He said Obama was “articulate and bright and clean”, as if that is a surprising thing for a black man to be.
  • He said of Delaware: “You cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

Biden ran for president himself in 2008 and 1988. He got nowhere in 2008. In 1988 he had to drop out after it came to light that he was copying parts of his speeches from Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labour Party. A few months later Biden almost died of two brain aneurysms.

Among other things, Biden:

  • Voted for the war in Iraq.
  • Liked Reagan’s Evil Empire speech.
  • Voted for the Patriot Act, giving the government powers to keep an eye on Americans.
  • Favours abortion but not whole-heartedly: NARAL gives him a 60 out of a 100. (It gave Obama 100.)
  • Opposed the Supreme Court confirmations of Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts – all of them Catholics who are against abortion.

Biden was the head of the Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings in which he sat back and let Republicans go after Anita Hill. He was not particularly nice to her either from what I can remember.

He seems to be an honest public servant. He is one of the poorest senators, his net worth being between $100,000 and $150,000 (about 10,000 crowns). Many make their fortune before joining the Senate, but he has been there since he was 30. The money he makes from speaking he gives away to charity and he takes the Amtrak train home from work. His wife is a schoolteacher.

His first wife died in a car crash along with his one-year-old daughter right after he won his Senate seat. His two sons lived.

He is the son of a car salesman. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he spent the first ten years of his life. He is Irish-American.

– Abagond, 2008.

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