A Guy Named Joe Adds Grit to Obama Ticket

He’s just a guy named Joe. Not a millionaire. Not even close. He doesn’t trade stocks and he doesn’t wheel and deal. He makes less than $200,000 a year and his wife, Jill, chips in her teacher’s pay. They mortgaged their house in Wilmington, Delaware to put their kids through college. One boy, a captain in the National Guard, is headed for Iraq.

bidenIn his 65 (almost 66) years, he has known tragedy (his first wife, Neilia, and their baby daughter were killed in a car crash) and triumph (he was one of the youngest U.S. senators ever elected), embarrassment (he was caught plagiarizing some British politician’s speech) and applause (his foreign relations credentials are second to none). And in 1988 he came within inches of dying from brain aneurisms.

That’s the kind of life that helps a guy get his priorities in order.

It’s no wonder that Joe doesn’t mince words. When President Bush gave a speech in Israel recently implying that negotiations with Iran would amount to “appeasement,” Joe called it b***s***. And he sometimes ends up with his foot in his mouth – like the time he said you need an Asian accent to shop in a Seven-Eleven or the other time when he seemed to marvel that a black man like Obama could be so “articulate.”

Yet few Americans hold his gaffes against him. They know he means well, and that – like the rest of us – he sometimes says things that don’t come out the way he means them to. And, more important, his record tells a different story.

For 35 years, he has been a hard working member of the United States Senate, and now heads the Foreign Relations Committee. He is a strong supporter of civil rights. He spearheaded a crackdown on abuse of women and federal funding to put more cops on the beat. He supports the fight against AIDS, decries the squandering of life and money in Iraq, backs tough penalties for hate crimes and protection for gays…

A Roman Catholic who opposes partial birth abortion, he nonetheless defends a woman’s right to choose, as defined in Roe v Wade.

Above all, Americans know where Joe Biden stands. While Obama looks at issues from all imaginable sides and sometimes leaves us wondering where he finally comes down, with Joe what you see is what you get. There’s nothing “nuanced” about the guy.

As another American politician said a long time ago, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

And there’s nothing “elite” about this car salesman’s son from Pennsylvania, who sometimes struggled at school, who mourned the loss of his first wife for years and has been married to his second wife for decades, who clings to his extended family for support in times of trouble and reaches out to help others in need.

Yep. Joe Biden is what Obama, the erudite law professor, needs to keep him grounded. And you can bet the gritty senator from Delaware won’t hesitate to do just that when necessary.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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