But it wasn't up to me or the so-called pundits to make the choice. It was Obama's choice, and he chose someone who was my choice for president. He chose a man with the common touch but with uncommon passion and an extraordinarily profound grasp of both domestic and foreign policy. Some say that Obama's choosing Biden is an admission of his weakness in the areas where Biden is strong.
It's interesting how the same thing can be viewed in very different ways. I happen to think that Obama's choice demonstrates great wisdom and strength. That is, he's wise enough to seek the invaluable counsel of a strong, more experienced, and very knowledgeable person, and he's strong enough not to feel intimidated by him.
And what kind of man is his VP choice? Here is what a Salon article says about him:
As the Balkan wars of the 1990s unfolded, few in Washington believed the United States should get involved in what appeared to be another round of a centuries-old, brutal conflict that seemed to promise only endless bloodshed for outsiders foolish enough to get trapped in someone else's ethnic struggles.
Biden has always been Eurocentric, defining America's interests as closely tied to the security of Europe, and convinced that the fate of southeastern Europe was inextricably linked to the well-being of the rest of the continent and, by extension, the United States. But the tipping point for Biden was the abuse-of-power issue he had absorbed from his father decades earlier, and he could not abide witnessing another genocide in Europe.
Many years earlier, when Biden's sons, Beau and Hunter, turned 13 little more than a year apart, he took them, separately, to the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich, Germany. It was critical for Joe Biden to teach his sons what his father had impressed upon him: the immorality and unacceptability of turning a blind eye to abuse of power, with Dachau representing the ultimate consequences of the unwillingness to confront evil.
Biden traveled to the Balkans virtually every year throughout the 1990s and finally succeeded in convincing an initially reluctant President Clinton -- and an even more recalcitrant Sen. John McCain -- that saving Muslim lives from a genocidal fate was a wise and just use of American military force. The iconic moment came in a face-to-face meeting between Biden and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic when the senator told the tyrant he was a "war criminal" who one day would be held accountable at the Hague, a prescient statement few others dared whisper.
Years later, accompanying Biden to Libya, I witnessed firsthand the senator's unique brand of personal diplomacy and his willingness to speak truth to power. Moammar Gadhafi had asked Biden to come to Libya to address a large convention at the time he was seeking a rapprochement with the United States. Biden agreed to go only after Gadhafi consented to a one-on-one meeting. We were ushered into Gadhafi's large tent in Sirte. There was minimal small talk before Biden asked why we were really there, why Gadhafi had embarked on his new approach. Gadhafi replied by asking, "Why not -- after all, the normal state of affairs between nations should be one of cooperation and friendship."
To which Biden responded without hesitation, "Well, you blew a passenger plane out of the sky, you've supported terrorists, and until recently you were developing nuclear weapons, that's why not." Gadhafi realized his jive had been rejected, and he resorted to honesty. "It's true we supported the PLO, the Sandinistas, the IRA and others, and they've all ended up on the White House lawn -- why not me?"
Biden succeeded in getting the despot to admit his real purpose was far from democracy building, as Gadhafi's single-minded interest was to secure Western know-how to develop Libya's natural resources quicker.
But the best moment came minutes later when Biden interrupted the maximum leader's soliloquy on the virtues of Libyan democracy by asking, "Please tell me, in your democracy can the people get rid of you?" After the translation was complete, it was hard to avoid glancing at the goons with automatic weapons lining the sides of the tent. "No, they can't," said Gadhafi, "because I am special. I started the revolution and they respect that."
"Oh, I understand," said Biden. "We had someone like that, too. George Washington. But after eight years, we got rid of him."
His commitment to passing his signature legislation, the Violence Against Women Act, similarly arose from lessons learned long ago about the moral centrality and need to uphold human rights and redress society's injustices.
Yes, Joe Biden can be glib. And he's the first to admit there are times he talks too much, even to his detriment, so that a phenomenal 15-minute speech turns into a good 25-minute speech and ends up as a maddening 40-minute speech.
But listen closely to what Biden actually says and means. Understand the values and principles that underpin his views. And try to appreciate his ability to connect the dots better than almost anyone else in public life when it comes to articulating a uniquely optimistic foreign policy and domestic agenda that are elevated by the simple but profound lessons learned in the humble home of Jean and Joe Biden Sr.