Joe Biden turns 80. Too old to tango?
Poor Joe Biden. He's today's Rodney Dangerfield. He can't get any respect - even though, in truth, Biden's at the peak of his career.
He's president of the United States, a job he sought for decades. He not only beat Donald Trump, he got more votes than any other presidential candidate in history. Despite a deeply-divided Congress, he accomplished more in his first two years than any president since LBJ: leading Americans out of the worst of the COVID pandemic, creating 10 million new jobs, empowering Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, signing the first gun reform legislation in 30 years, the biggest infrastructure bill since the '50s, and the biggest climate change investment ever - while leading the West in helping Ukraine defend itself against Vladimir Putin's invasion.
On top of that, Biden just defied history by leading Democrats to stunning success in the midterms: maintaining control of the Senate (and most likely picking up one more seat, in Georgia); only narrowly losing the House, instead of the "Red Wave" most pollsters predicted; and winning key governorships in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Given that record, you'd think Democrats would be chanting "Run, Joe, Run!" But, instead, in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 56 percent of Democrats are chanting "Go, Joe, Go." We don't care how good a job you've done. Go back to Wilmington - because you're too old. You just turned 80!
It's true that, on his last birthday, Biden became the oldest person ever to serve as president. But so what? At the risk of alienating most of my Democratic friends, I dare suggest that making Biden's age their number one concern is a big mistake. For several reasons. First, because politics is all about winning. In 2020, Biden beat Trump by 7 million votes. He'd crush Trump by even more in 2024, were Trump again the Republican nominee. Holding onto the White House. In the end, that's all that counts.
And, by the way, Trump's no spring chicken. Were he re-elected as president, God forbid, he'd turn 80 in 2026. I don't hear Republicans complaining about his advanced age. I don't hear Republicans distressed about re-electing 80-year-old Mitch McConnell as Republican Senate leader. Nor did I hear any Republicans regret re-electing Iowa's Sen. Chuck Grassley at the ripe old age of 89 - at which point Grassley immediately filed papers to run again in 2028, at the age of 95!
Democrats are also ignoring demographics which demonstrate, quite simply, that Americans are living longer and more meaningful lives. Data released at Stanford University's Century Summit in December 2020 shows that Americans are living longer than ever before - about 30 years longer, on average, than a century ago.
Americans are not only living longer, they're working longer, well into their 80s. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Washington Post showed that working octogenarians reached a high in 2019, with roughly 734,000 octogenarians in the U.S. workforce that year, compared to 110,000 in 1980. Joe Biden's not bucking the trend, he's setting the trend.
Biden might, in fact, qualify for the category of "Superager" - a term coined by researchers at Northwestern University for octogenarians possessing a brain as sharp as people 20 to 30 years younger. While not enrolled in their program, Biden fits their definition of superager. "These folks stay active physically," says Associate Director Emily Rogalski. "They tend to be positive. They challenge their brain every day, reading or learning something new -- many continue to work into their 80s. SuperAgers are also social butterflies, surrounded by family and friends, and can often be found volunteering in the community." Biden could be their poster boy!
It's not unfair to raise the age issue. Biden himself told MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart: "I think it's a legitimate thing to be concerned about anyone's age, including mine." But, Biden added, the best way to decide whether he can handle the job of president is "Watch me." And, on that score, there's no doubt. Biden knows the job, gets things done, has great energy, works a 10-hour day, is on the road two or three days a week, and is clearly in charge. Yes, he'd be applauded, like Nancy Pelosi, for passing the baton to the next generation at age 82, but he's earned the right to make that decision himself.
The right question is not how old is Biden? But can he win? And is he up to the job? The answer to both is yes. Case closed.
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American carnage? Been there, done that!
We survived four years of Donald Trump, but he just won't go away. Like a zombie, he's now trying to come back from the politically dead. And, given today's toxic political environment - where anything goes, no matter how ugly or extreme - that very prospect has raised fears of democracy destroyed.
Civil libertarians warn about what Trump Redux might look like: declaration of martial law; armed white mobs attacking homes and businesses of law-abiding Black Americans; FBI agents rounding up and deporting anybody who dares criticize the president; magazines and newspapers censored by the government; publishers thrown in jail for publishing articles critical of the government; American Jews deported and would-be Jewish immigrants denied entrance to the country; and labor unions declared illegal and shut down.
You think that could never happen? Think again! As historian Adam Hochschild reminds us, it already has. Once before. Here in the United States. Between 1917 and 1921. During and right after World War I. Under President Woodrow Wilson.
It's all laid out in Hochschild's new book, "American Midnight," one of the most powerful, deeply researched, beautifully written, and scariest books I've ever read. For those of us who thought we knew American history well, this is a period that has largely escaped attention. Perhaps because we're ashamed of it. And should be.
Or perhaps because we still naively think of Woodrow Wilson as a great progressive, which he clearly was not. Yes, he deserves credit for some progressive achievements: introducing a progressive income tax, eliminating child labor, sponsoring anti-trust laws, adopting an eight-hour work day, and devoting his life to preserving world peace through the League of Nations. But at the very same time Wilson was engaging the United States in a war for democracy in Western Europe, he was presiding over a war against democracy at home. Wilson was, in fact, a lifelong racist and anti-Semite.
Under Wilson, the years 1917 to 1921 represented a total breakdown of democracy. It was America at its worst. At every level, led by Wilson's Justice Department, governments acted to crush dissent, deny civil liberties, and foment and forgive political violence against African-Americans, immigrants, Jews, labor unions, anti-war activists, and the media.
With Wilson's knowledge and blessing, Postmaster General Albert Burleson declared over 70 magazines and periodicals "unmailable," simply because they dared question U.S. involvement in World War I. Unable, in the pre-internet age, to reach readers, they simply shut down. Meanwhile, operating under the Espionage Act, which had nothing to do with "espionage," the government arrested hundreds of people who expressed opposition to WWI, including Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, who won 6 percent of the popular vote in 1912. Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his argument that "men were fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder."
Because of their wartime push for better working conditions, labor unions were another target, especially the Industrial Workers of the World, or "Wobblies," whose colorful organizing tactics drove the Wilson administration crazy. In April 1918, in what is still the largest civilian criminal trial in American history, 112 Wobblies were found guilty and sent to prison - not for acts of theft, sabotage, or violence, but solely for words they had spoken or written critical of the government.
As in any war on civil liberties, immigrants were another prime target, especially those who did not reflect what Wilson called his "old Colonial white stock." The government practically shut down immigration from southern Eastern Europe - Italians, Poles, and Jews - thousands of whom ended up victims of the Holocaust.
But, no surprise, the worst abuses were what Hochschild calls "white race riots," attacks on African-Americans by mobs of armed white vigilantes - an early version of today's Proud Boys - with the tacit, if not open, support of the federal government. Dozens of blocks of Black homes and businesses in East St. Louis, Illinois, destroyed in spring 1917. Thirty-five blocks of "Black Wall Street" in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wiped out in May 1921. More than 70 African-Americans lynched by mobs in 1919 alone, including 17 World War I veterans - three of whom were murdered in their uniforms.
And over all this mayhem presided the "progressive" Woodrow Wilson. Reading "American Midnight" is a chilling reminder of how close we came to the loss of civil liberties under Donald Trump and a powerful warning about why he should never be entrusted with power again. The total breakdown of democracy? If it happened once, it could happen again.
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MAGA Republicans are not patriots
Words have meaning. To Americans, the word "patriot" has a very sacred meaning. And yet, no word is more abused today.
In just one day this week, I received over a dozen emails from far-right Republican candidates. (Note: somehow, as a political journalist, I'm on everybody's mailing list, left and right). So, believe it or not, those who showed up in my inbox included Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY); Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ron Johnson (R-WI.); GOP congressional candidates Wesley Hunt (TX), and Jennifer-Ruth Green (IN); and GOP Senate candidates Leora Levy (CT), and Blake Masters (AZ).
Every one of them was begging for money. And every one of them began with the salutation: "Dear Patriot." As if everybody who agreed with their extremist MAGA brand of politics was a "patriot," and anybody who disagreed with them was not.
Nothing drives me crazier! What do all these candidates have in common? Three things. Every one of them espouses the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Every one of them believes that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was no big deal. And every one of them believes that those who stormed the Capitol, injuring 140 police officers, were "patriots." Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar even called them "peaceful patriots."
Puh-leeze! The dictionary defines "patriot" as: "a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors." By that definition alone, attempting to overthrow the United States government - as supporters of Donald Trump tried to do on January 6 and are still attempting in dozens of states - is not patriotism. It's the exact opposite. They're not trying to defend our country, they're trying to overthrow it.
Of course, MAGA Republicans call themselves "patriots" in a diabolical attempt to identify themselves with our "true patriots," our Founding Fathers. After all, they say, we too are protesting an oppressive regime. We are today's George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Like them, we're even willing to take up arms to fight for our freedom.
That rumble you hear is George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and all the rest of our Founding Fathers and Mothers rolling over in their graves. There is no comparison between our heroic revolutionary patriots and today's pretenders.
The Founders fought to establish and expand our freedom. After more than 200 years of progress, today's phony patriots are out to shrink our freedoms, especially for women, gays, and people of color. The Founders fought to break from a clueless, incompetent ruler. Today's phonies worship at the feet of Donald Trump, a man even more clueless and incompetent than George III.
Most importantly, the Founders created a nation where we the people are in charge. Where we the people choose our own leaders in fair and free elections and where everyone accepts and abides by the will of the people: a system of elections which is the best and strongest in the world and admired by the whole world.
There's no more fundamental building block of our democracy than our right to vote and to have our vote count. And it's that very building block which Donald Trump and his slavish supporters, today's so-called "patriots," are out to destroy. They're doing so by refusing to accept the clear outcome of the 2020 election, denying the legitimacy of the elected president, and, in many states, proposing laws that will allow state legislatures to ignore the will of the people and send their own, self-appointed slates of electors to vote in any future presidential election. Taken together, it's nothing less than an all-out assault on our democracy. And the worst part is, it's all undertaken in the guise of "patriotism."
Worst of all, these MAGA Republicans insist that what happened on Jan. 6 is no different than the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 - an assertion forcefully denied by law enforcement officers who experienced both. As former D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who almost lost his life on Jan. 6, asserts in his powerful new book "Hold the Line," no one from the BLM engaged in sedition. "Trying to overthrow the U.S. Capitol and trying to overthrow a CVS are two very different things."
MAGA Republicans, listen up: If you buy Donald Trump's Big Lie and if you endorse or downplay the violence of Jan. 6, I don't know what you are. You may be a hopeless party hack, a numbskull, or a traitor. But you're no "patriot."
Democracy on the line
With the 2022 midterm elections now less than three weeks away, early voting has already begun or will soon be underway in all but four states: Alabama, Mississippi, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. And, so far, all signs point to a record turn-out. As of Oct. 19, 4.5 million voters had already cast their ballots nationwide, according to the United States Elections Project. In Georgia, where the battle between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker could decide control of the U.S. Senate, the first two days of early voting surpassed the number of ballots cast at that point in 2020, the last presidential election.
All of which keeps pundits speculating: What's driving people to the polls? What's motivating them to vote? Is it the economy, abortion, inflation, crime, gun safety, climate change, or student loans? To be honest, nobody knows. Some voters cite the economy, others crime, still others, especially young women voters, abortion.
But the truth is, no matter what other factors are at play, there is really only one issue in this election - one issue that should drive everyone to vote - and that's democracy itself. And the American people sense it. Asked this week in an AP/University of Chicago poll "Do you think our democracy is working well," only 9 percent said yes.
In these midterm elections, our democracy is under direct attack on several fronts. First, by a sore loser and former president who still, two years later, without one shred of evidence, perpetuates the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. As manifestly ridiculous as it is, that lie has undermined faith in our election system. In the same AP/Chicago poll, only half of Republicans believe votes will be honestly counted in 2022.
Here's the real problem. Even though Trump himself is not on the ballot, many of his fellow MAGA Republican election deniers are. According to the nonpartisan group States United Action, in 27 states, a total of 43 election-denying candidates are on the general election ballot for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state - many of them in battleground states whose results will have a major impact on the next presidential election in 2024.
In Arizona, Republican nominees for all three top statewide offices that oversee elections - Kari Lake for governor, Mark Finchem; for secretary of state; and Abraham Hamadeh, for attorney general - have questioned Biden's victory or said the election was stolen from Trump.
In Michigan, Republican candidates for the same three offices - Tudor Dixon for governor; Kristina Karamo for secretary of state; and Matthew DePerno for attorney general - have made the same claim. And the same is true in Alabama: Kay Ivey, for governor; Wes Allen, for secretary of state; and Steve Marshall, for attorney general.
Election deniers also top Republican tickets in other key states, including: For governor: Dan Cox, Maryland; Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania; Tim Michels, Wisconsin; and Geoff Diehl, Massachusetts. Add Michael Peroutka, Maryland candidate for attorney general, and Rayla Campbell, Massachusetts GOP candidate for secretary of state to the list. In Nevada, MAGA candidate for secretary of state Jim Marchant has said he would not have certified the 2020 results.
And, of course, don 't forget Trump-endorsed U.S. Senate candidates - Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Blake Masters in Arizona, J.D. Vance in Ohio, Marco Rubio in Florida, and Ted Budd in North Carolina - who would not have Trump's backing if they had not to some degree echoed his false claims about 2020.
Every one of those candidates is a threat to democracy. "We don't know how these races will pan out, but even a single election denier winning office in a single state is a five-alarm fire that puts our democracy at risk," Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action warned on NBC News.
And, in order to save our democracy, every one of those candidates must be defeated on Nov. 8. Not because they're Republicans. In fact, they're not real Republicans. They're MAGA extremists. And, if elected, every last one of them will perpetuate Donald Trump's biggest lie of all: That every election is fraudulent - except when your candidate wins. Nothing could be more anti-democratic or more anti-American. But that's where we're heading if election deniers win.
We remember the story. As Benjamin Franklin walked out of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman shouted: "Well, doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" To which Franklin reportedly replied: "A republic, if you can keep it." On Nov. 8, it's up to us.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of 10 books, including: "From the Left: My Life in the Crossfire." His email address is: email@example.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
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The gospel of Christian hypocrisy
Back in the '80s, when so-called Christian conservatives first got involved in politics, the popular joke was: "The Religious Right - is neither!" But, at least, back in the days of Jerry Falwell, they were consistent: anti-abortion; anti-gay marriage; and anti-adultery. They supported political candidates who agreed with them, regardless of party. Yes, they supported mainly Republicans, but it was still the issue, not the party, that mattered.
That's no longer the case. For today's phony Christian conservatives, it's just the opposite: party first and foremost. Issues? That depends. They're still officially anti-adultery, unless the serial adulterer happens to be a Republican candidate for president. And they're still anti-abortion, unless it's a Republican Senate candidate who pays for an abortion.
There is, in fact, nothing a Republican candidate can do to lose the support of the Religious Right. And that's never been more true than today, as Christian conservatives trip all over themselves to French kiss and forgive Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
Let's be clear. There's no doubt Herschel Walker not only encouraged a former girlfriend to have an abortion, but paid for it. The woman's testimony, the canceled check, the get-well card, the confirmation of a friend who helped her through the experience, plus the girlfriend's latest revelation that she also bore one of Walker's several out-of-wedlock children: That's all the evidence you need.
It doesn't prove that Herschel or his then-girlfriend did anything illegal. But it does prove that his position on abortion now is just the opposite of what it was in 2009, not that long ago. And it proves he's a total hypocrite to campaign today as 100 percent anti-abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Any remaining questions about Walker's moral character were answered by his son Christian, who responded to reports of the 2009 abortion payment by telling his father on Twitter: "You're not a 'family man' when you left us to bang a bunch of women." Later, the young Walker added: "You have 4 kids that we know of and you weren't in the house raising ONE of them, you were out cheating and lying. If you loved your kids you'd be raising them instead of running for a Senate race to boost your ego."
But even Walker's hypocrisy pales in comparison to the total hypocrisy of those Christian conservatives who hastened to rally around him. Remember: According to their extreme views, Herschel Walker paid for the murder of an unborn child. And yet, when he brazenly walked into a Baptist church the next morning, they gave him a standing ovation!
The lame excuses evangelicals gave for sticking with Walker drip with hypocrisy. Pastor Anthony George of Atlanta's First Baptist Church wiffed: "The dilemma is, do you wait for a candidate who is perfect, or do you take what's given to you?" The conservative journal, The Federalist, declared: "Ideological indecency matters more than personal failures." (Funny, that's not what they said about Bill Clinton). Conservative radio host Dana Loesch: "I am concerned about one thing, and one thing only, at this point. So I don't care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles -- I want control of the Senate."
The failure of social conservatives to practice what they preach has outraged many faith leaders, who fear Republican evangelicals give all Christians a bad name. "The Republicans rallying around Herschel Walker with his latest hypocrisy, this 'pro-life' candidate allegedly paying for an abortion for a woman he impregnated, demonstrates how the party has completely disconnected itself from any morality or ethics - its only about winning," Jim Wallis, director of Georgetown University's Center on Faith and Justice, told me. "Character means nothing anymore to a party that once claimed the language of values, but now blindly supports a man that has absolutely no character or values, like Donald Trump."
The truth is, today the Religious Right is nothing more than an arm of the Republican National Committee, masquerading under the shroud of religion. Their churches are not places of worship. They're the local headquarters of the Republican Party. They should lose their tax exempt status.
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Roger Stone tells all: Violence was part of the plan
As Hurricane Ian ripped through Florida and the East Coast, leaving a path of death and destruction, it also disrupted the political landscape. In addition to requiring much of Florida to shut down, it also forced the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection to postpone its scheduled hearing for Wednesday, Sept. 28 - which would have been its ninth public hearing and the first since the FBI searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence on Aug. 8.
This week's hearing promised to be another blockbuster, featuring never-before-seen video from a documentary produced by Danish filmmakers about longtime political dirty trickster and Trump political adviser Roger Stone. A new hearing date has not yet been announced, but fortunately we don't have to wait. Thanks to CNN, we've already seen highlights of the documentary - and they're as shocking as anticipated.
In effect, Stone confirms everything the Jan. 6 committee has concluded so far: that Trump never intended to abide by the results of the election; that the insurrection of Jan. 6 was planned far ahead of time; that violence didn't just happen, it was always part of the plan; and that Donald Trump himself was the ringleader.
As early as July 9, 2020, Trump whisperer Stone described how Trump would deal with the election: "Oh, these are the California results. Sorry, we're not accepting them. We're challenging them in court. If the electors show up at the Electoral College, armed guards will throw them out. I'm the president. F**k you. You're not stealing Florida, you're not stealing (unclear). I'm challenging all of it. And the judges we're going to are judges I appointed."
And, of course, that's exactly what happened. In the documentary, Stone also makes clear that challenging election results necessarily included violence. Again, long before votes were counted, he encouraged Trump supporters: "F**k the voting, let's get right to the violence." He goes on: "Shoot to kill. See an antifa? Shoot to kill. F**k 'em. Done with this bulls**t."
As the Washington Post reported, no sooner had CNN aired clips from the documentary than Stone tried to downplay his call for violence, telling the Post: "I am, of course, only kidding. We renounce violence completely." But that's not true, and Stone knows it. Even his filmmakers said Stone's backtracking was done with "more of a wink and a nod." If you don't believe in violence, you don't incite it, you don't practice it, and you don't hang around with those who do.
In fact, Stone has a close relationship with militia organizations. He admitted to journalist Andy Campbell that he served as adviser to Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys - the group Trump famously told to "stand back and stand by." And in Washington on Jan. 5 and 6, members of the Oath Keepers served as Stone's security detail. According to the New York Times, Stone was so worried about his connection with the violence of Jan. 6 that he asked Trump to grant him a second pardon. Trump had already pardoned Stone once, commuting his 40-month prison sentence for obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, and witness tampering.
Roger Stone's explosive documentary is even more chilling in light of two other Jan. 6-related news events this week. First, in Federal District Court in Washington, a trial began in the case of Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers militia, and four other members of the group - all charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack on the Capitol and plotting to use armed force against the American government.
Their defense? Get this! That they were acting under legal orders from the president himself. Oath Keepers lawyers argue that militia leaders were told that Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act, and they believed it. Therefore, the violence on Jan. 6 was a lawful attempt to help the president and not an illegal attack against the United States. Donald Trump did nothing to dissuade them.
Second, Jan. 6 rioter Kyle Young was sentenced to prison for seven years for brutally assaulting Capitol police officer Michael Fanone. But Young may not have to worry. Trump promised to pardon him and other members of the Jan. 6 armed mob if, God forbid, he runs and wins again.
The conclusion of this week's events: The violence on Jan. 6 was planned long in advance. It's good to see so many of the armed mob brought to justice. It's outrageous that their ringleader is not already behind bars.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of 10 books, including: "From the Left: My Life in the Crossfire." His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
JOE AND BARACK: SOMEHOW THEY MADE IT WORK
They are both Democrats. They both wanted to be president someday. They were both devoted to their families. But, aside from that, as politicians, Barack Obama and Joe Biden differ in almost every way possible.
Biden loves mixing it up with people and taking selfies. Obama can’t wait to get back in his limousine. Biden thrives on debating details of legislation and making deals. Obama couldn’t be bothered. Biden shoots from the lip, often ending up with foot in mouth. Obama carefully measures every thought before expressing it. Biden’s impulsive, Obama’s cerebral. Biden’s hasty, Obama’s cautious.
Yet somehow the two of them melded their differences and formed one of, if not the most, effective working relationships between president and vice-president in history. It’s all spelled out by New York Magazine’s Gabriel DeBenedetti in his new book, “The Long Alliance: The Imperfect Union of Joe Biden and Barack Obama.”
It wasn’t love at first sight. Biden was blown away by Obama’s keynote address to the 2004 Democratic convention, but worried he was just a show-horse. Still, Biden helped Obama get a sought-after slot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chaired. But Obama considered Biden too long-winded and a hopeless believer in the kind of bipartisan Senate cordiality which no longer existed.
Nor was Obama impressed with Biden’s 2007 presidential campaign - until he cinched the nomination and realized that someone with Biden’s experience, legislative savvy, foreign policy chops, blue-collar roots – and grey hair! – was just what he needed to appeal to working class Democrats who might not be eager to vote for an inexperienced college professor with a name like Barack, who also happened to be Black.
At first, Biden was interested in becoming VP. He’d been his own boss for 40 years. When Obama did approach Biden about the job, assuring him it’d be the capstone of his long career, Biden shot back: “Not the tombstone?”
Biden finally told Obama he’d consider the job, based on four conditions: he’d attend every intelligence briefing; he’d have an open, wide-ranging portfolio; they’d have a weekly lunch; and he’d be the last person in the room with Obama before he made major decisions. To Biden’s surprise, Obama accepted every one of his conditions. In return, Biden pledged to stay completely loyal and publicly support every decision Obama made, even if he privately disagreed with it. Deal made, and deal honored for eight years.
It wasn’t always a smooth relationship. Obama rejected Biden’s advice and sent 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Biden one-upped Obama by coming out strongly for same-sex marriage, before Obama had made up his own mind. But, with Biden working Congress while Obama worked the public, they developed both an effective public partnership and close personal relationship.
Not exactly a bromance, as many in the media described it. Obama, an avid golfer, invited Biden to join him only once. And even though they spent an average 7 hours together every day for eight years, in all that time Obama never once invited Biden and his wife to the White House residence.
Nevertheless, they grew so close and depended so much on each other that, toward the end of his term, Obama surprised Biden by awarding him the Medal of Freedom at a tear-soaked ceremony where the president declared Biden “the finest vice-president we have ever seen. And I also think he has been a lion of American history.”
Even after that, there were bumps in the road. In 2015, while Biden was struggling with the death of his son Beau, Obama snubbed Biden’s interest in running for president in 2016 and, instead, did everything he could behind the scenes to encourage and assist Hillary Clinton. And again in 2020, rather than help Biden in the primary, Obama stayed on the sidelines, even flirting with Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke, before accepting the inevitability of Biden’s nomination – after which, ever eager to protect his own legacy, he went all out to help Biden.
The irony is that, in just two years, Biden has accomplished more major legislation than Obama did in eight. But, through it all, the partnership between Obama and Biden has not suffered, it’s just grown stronger. As Biden summed it up when he welcomed Barack and Michele Obama back to the White House for the unveiling of their official portraits, “We grew to be family for each other, through our highs and our lows. I imagine there may have been other relationships like this. None comes to mind.”
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