Promises to Keep
Joe Biden on Diane Reim Show this morning. (Audio here). (Title of post is title of his new memoirs).
I wish he really had a shot at the presidency. He's a good ol' Catholic boy which is probably why I connect with him. A very honorable man in an age of political corruption where no one will take blame for their mistakes it seems. A man also who knows suffering, who has depth---he was elected to the Senate at 29 years of age and his wife and daughter were tragically killed weeks after his election victory.
On the policy questions....he's sharpening his criticisms of the rest of the Democratic field. He also says he does not see himself becoming Sec. of State (as he would have been if John Kerry had been elected). He would have taken the job with Kerry because he said he saw himself on board in many respects with the Sen., but feels himself not connected with the rest of the Democratic field. Looks like he thinks Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee is the way he can exercise more influence. He's entering grandfather-wisdom figure status in the Senate now.
The other thing he says--a point I totally agree with---that Bush's major sin (for his legacy) will be that he did not unite the country in sacrifice after 9/11. He told people to go shopping and then cut taxes and put everything on the military. And unilaterally departed on his course in Iraq without the foggiest of what happens the day after Saddam falls.
On the question of meet or don't meet with foreign dictators, his answer yet again cuts a third way. He talks about how in '92 he was calling for action in Bosnia--before anyone else. He got criticized from the left and right. Milosevic called him (I didn't know this story) and asked whether he would meet with him. Biden said on the condition that it was in the dark, no press. Milosevic asked Biden what his (Biden's) opinions of him (Milo.) were. Biden said--I think you're a war criminal and I'm going to spend the rest of my career putting you behind bars.
That's how you do it. Did meet with them but no on some precondition-less basis. Again contextually, when dealing with a war criminal. In other cases, bad (but not war criminal bad) it might be different.
And of course his (I think) brilliant analysis that all of the other candidates in both parties as locked into the same strategic fundamental flaw on Iraq: they think there is a central government that could unite the sects. That political progress is measured by some abstract benchmark known as "reconciliation." There is none, will be none, as he says--in your lifetime.
For Biden, the Republicans want to surge troops, the other Democrats lower them, but all of them assume the point is that by fidgeting with troops numbers somehow puts Humpty Dumpty back together again. It is the only real alternative to the Bush plan. No other Democrat has one. Smart money is on this plan (as Harold Ford predicted by this time next year he will have be shown to be right).
A very touching moment around minute 22-24, where a man calls in and gets chocked up thanking him for his work on to get the up-armored vehicles in the recent supplemental bill. His son will be driving one of those.
In the last minute when asked what his first piece of legislation would be an interesting answer: making college more affordable (raising Pell Grants, larger tax breaks for students).