Sunday, September 21, 2008

Letter to NYTimes on Joe Biden

Chicago Saturday AM, September 21, 2008

New York Times letters 349 words


The Saturday, September 20 New York Times article "Meanwhile, the Other No. 2 Keeps On Punching" is a well written, interesting take on an interesting guy. Describing Joe Biden as "a distinctive blend of pit bull and odd duck" and "part of the national political furniture for decades" is delicious.

But what seems strange is all but non-existent mention of why Joe Biden got this position. Buried deep in the article is the statement that Biden lends "foreign policy heft to Senator Barack Obama" and a guy whose foreign policy experience is limited to four crucial pre-teen years slogging through the mud of Indonesia sure needs that.

But a careful read of Biden's official biography at might explain the dearth. It mentions only six things Biden has actually done in his government career:

--- represented the state of DE in the US Senate since 1972
... wrote and passed the Violence Against Women Act
... authored the Rail Security Act of 2007
... authored a Senate resolution endorsing air war in Kosovo
... Authored and passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
and the 2007 Biden Crime Bill

Beyond those six measurable accomplishments, every thing else is qualified with words like "His leadership", "is recognized as", "is one of the nation's most influential voices on", “is credited with” or "has earned a rep for".

This is pretty thin stuff. Wouldn't you think that if he actually had made some real marks in foreign relations, they would be mentioned in an official on-line biography?

To Senator Biden’s credit, of the 900 words in that official biography, 214 are about foreign policy, but not too far behind are 176 words about his state, and then 168 on his personal life (and to keep readers‘ minds from wandering, 27 of those 900 words are ‘Biden‘, 22 of those immediately preceeded by ‘Senator‘.)

To the biographer's credit, it ends up on some high notes: Biden "serves as a good example for everyone in Congress", "is a good listener" and "has a very broad, comprehensive view of the world."

Arnold H Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL 60640

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