New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama's Running Mate Biden Has Rare Political Trait: Decency

This is the beginning of my newest piece:

Decency is rare in life, but it seems even rarer in politics where so much often is at stake. As government has grown and more is at stake, the niceties that make life civil have become expendable.

I have always been struck by the decency of Senator Joe Biden, Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee. But there is one memory that I particularly recall when I think of him.

Back in late May 2001, when the Senate was evenly divided with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, every vote counted in trying to pass President Bush's tax bill. Senator James Jeffords hadn't yet officially become an independent. Democrats were putting up amendment after amendment to try to defeat the tax bill, and the debate was lasting late into the evening.

Senator Joseph Biden noticed that 98-year-old Republican Senator Strom Thurmond was looking quite ill. But Thurmond couldn't leave because the Republicans needed his vote. Biden, seeing the predicament, offered a solution. He offered to "pair" his votes with Thurmond. Biden promised not to vote while Thurmond left the floor so that the passage of amendments would remain unchanged. It was the decent thing to do.

. . .

The piece goes on to discuss how Obama could learn something from Biden on how to deal with people.

UPDATE: Here is an alternative viewpoint from David Greenberg at Slate:

The sheer number and extent of Biden's fibs, distortions, and plagiarisms struck many observers at the time as worrisome, to say the least. While a media feeding frenzy (a term popularized in the 1988 campaign) always creates an unseemly air of hysteria, Biden deserved the scrutiny he received. Quitting the race was the right thing to do. . . .

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding?

8/24/2008 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Biden did not show any decency toward gun owners at the CNN YouTube Debate.


8/24/2008 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see that Mr. Biden had decent instincts in the episode regarding Strom Thurmond, but he failed to carry through on them for political reasons. That is not what I call decency.

8/24/2008 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange definition of decency... makes an offer that is "fair", then gets talked out of it because his "friends" want to take advantage of an almost dying 98 year-old man who they hope will collapse on the Senate floor so they can win a vote. Sorry, sounds like (cut-throat) business as usual, not a poster child for decency.

8/24/2008 12:55 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks for the various comments.

Dear Mad Saint Jack:

I noted clearly at the end of the piece that Biden had very liberal views. Did you get to that part of the article.

Dear Second Anonymous:

He apparently tried hard enough that Strom Thurmond was thankful for his efforts.

Dear Third Anonymous:

Ditto. Plus the point is that Biden distinguished himself from other politicians who argued strongly the other way.

Finally, when people do the decent thing, we should be willing to admit it. I trust that you all read the entire piece, especially the discussion about Obama.

8/24/2008 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Decency? How is automatically assuming the guild of U.S. Marines at Hadith (along with Democrat, Murtha) a decent thing to do? As a veteran of OIF myself, I think both Biden and Murtha are as indecent and shameful as they come!

8/24/2008 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Delaware...God help our country if Biden is VP. He's done nothing for our state.

The only good thing is that we'll save money on speechwriters since he plagarizes his speeches.

8/24/2008 6:29 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear TomS:

Surely you understand the difference between someone who I agree with politically and someone who is able to interact decently with others. I would never vote for either Obama or Biden, but I can still recognize good behavior when I see it.

8/24/2008 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Conservative and there was a time I thought Biden might be a good candidate for higher office.

But that time passed the more I read of his comments regarding a variety of political topics.

I don't know him personally, so I cannot question his decency. However, I no longer consider him a trustworthy person.

I am puzzled, too. I thought Barack was about change and about not being part of the old Washington machine. Doesn't Biden's addition to the ticket bely this?

8/24/2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same opinion as some of the others, you can't claim to have decent tendencies if you are quick to allow others to convince you to abandon them. If he had gone through with some decency then I'd give him credit.

8/25/2008 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how "decent" he remains now that he has been chosen to be Obama's "hatchett man."

8/25/2008 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen Mr Biden's partisan attacks on rational policy proposal's just because they are Republican in origin. I've seen him described as a political crotch kicker. He lies, cheats and steals just like any other run-of-the-mill hack. Decency? I don't think so.

8/26/2008 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Articles like this cause me to wonder if media people have any civilized values at all! How can anyone who was stupid enough to vote to authorize the brutal invasion of an innocent third-world country??? How can anyone who was silly enough to follow George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in their murderous exploits be called "decent"???

Joe Biden is no more qualified for the office of VP than Adolph Hitler! On the contrary, all the idiots who took part in leading our country into that Iraq debacle (media people included) should be tried, convicted, and thrown into a den of lions! Obama should be thrown into the fire right along with his VP pick, as payback for suggesting such folly!

8/26/2008 6:14 PM  

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