Democrats Hear Joe Biden’s Moving Answer


“The window for mounting a run for the presidency has closed.” With that simple declaration, sitting Vice-President Joe Biden took himself out of a third run for the most powerful office in the land. Biden, who addressed the hastily assembled media in the Rose Garden. It was his final word on the “will he, or won’t he” Washington guessing game about his potential Democratic presidential run. His wife Jill and President Obama, stood on either side nearest the answer (and it seemed final), a soft “no.”

I believe him, but I think the following words from Biden had a far more powerful impact on his decision: “There will come a day, I promise you and your parents, as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.

That moving statement was an encore to the almost identical words in a 2012 address to families and loved ones of those killed in Iraq. And it was a statement that spelled out at its center, the real reason the VP chose not to enter the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

His latest delivery of those sadly compelling words was directed at the death of his beloved son, Beau Biden, who was awarded the Bronze Star in Iraq, served as a major in the Delaware National Guard’s Judge Advocate’s Corps, was the immediate past Delaware Attorney General and was the odds-on favorite to be the next Delaware Governor after the 2016 votes were counted in that state. But death intervened. Beau was only 46-years-old.

No doubt, proud papa Joe expected Beau’s political career to continue on its meteoric path, maybe all the way to the White House, surely a seat in Congress at the very least. But nobody figured that there would be a huge and deadly health event blocking that path. In 2013, the seemingly indestructible Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer and the best efforts of the top specialists in the county were not enough to prevent Beau’s premature death, May 30th of this year.
This was not Joe Biden’s first exposure to a family tragedy. In 1972, his young wife at the time and their 13-month-old-daughter were killed in a car accident. The toddler son’s, Beau and Hunter, fought for their lives before recovering. Harkening back to his wife’s and daughter’s deaths, ‘The Fix’ in the Washington Post, reported that Biden told his 2012 audience that “I realized how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide.” On a personal note, Biden, himself, was given a 50% chance of survival by doctors, after missing seven months of the Senate in 1988, suffering from a brain aneurysm.

The learned punditry has already seized upon the fact that Biden was late to the chase for the nomination. That Hillary Clinton had already captured the affections of the vital ‘Priorities USA Super Pac’ and had been out in the hustings for months. Vital infrastructure and personnel were in place and had been for months. It was just a matter of too little, too late for Biden.

The pundits are right of course. While I agree with every reason given for Joe’s backing away from yet another try for the presidency, I’m convinced he didn’t necessarily want the office for himself, especially in his later years. I think he’s comfortable with his Senate and Vice-Presidential service and the fact that he’s pretty well liked by most of his peers.

I’m convinced he wanted to do everything in his power to continue his son’s run to that power-laden office. At 72, he also realized the grind of the campaign would wear on him and approaching his senior years, a presidency would simply take too much family time away from a man who held his remaining children and grandchildren as his most important reason for being.

His address to the media was most likely one of the better speaking efforts he’s given in his career. There was a sincerity that was truly honest. Biden really had no reason to gild any of his comments. He gave props to his president, saying that Democrats should run on his legacy; that the country was on the cusp of resurgence. He also borrowed from the pages of the Bernie Sanders campaign notebook in renouncing the “huge inequity” in our democracy. “The middle-class will never have a chance as long as several hundred families control the process.”

Biden called for a child care tax credit and limiting deductibles to 28% of income to pay for the credit. He finds it great that in America you can be what you want to be and pledged to be part of seeking a cure for cancer.

There’s no question that Hillary Clinton is the prime benefactor from Biden’s refusal to enter the race. An early poll has her gaining 11% of the Biden vote, while Bernie Sanders must make do with a niggling 4%.

It’s no longer early in the race for the presidency; it’s just kind of early. Whatever happens from here on can be taken seriously, other than one-percent candidate, Webb’s predictable departure. An objective observer would have to say that for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is starting to pull away to an insurmountable lead, even before the first caucus and primary.

You can say that, but given the history of presidential campaigns, don’t swear to it.

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