Friday, September 4, 2015

Please,Joe, Don't Run

For years now I've been pushing for a Joe Biden run for the presidency.  Whenever I say Joe would make a better president than any candidate running, even people I like a lot have laughed at the idea.  They scoffed.  I kept pushing.

I've written before about how much I love Joe Biden, even when he's at his most cringe-worthy.  I've inserted him into pieces that aren't about him, making them much longer than they need to be or should be, simply because I wanted him there.  He fits.

He is as flawed as any of us, but the presidency doesn't require perfection.  It's not an application for sainthood.  It requires a big heart--a HUGE heart--along with enough political savvy to never lose sight of goals or of enemies.  Joe has that.

But yesterday, during a speech at an Atlanta synagogue, he was asked about a possible run for president.  He said this:

"Unless I can go to my party and the American people and say that I'm able to devote my whole heart and my whole soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate," Biden said. "And everybody talks about a lot of other factors: The other people in the race and whether I can raise the money and whether I can get an organization. That's not the factor. The factor is can I do it? Can my family? 
"...I will be straightforward with you. The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run," Biden told the crowd. "The honest to God answer is I just don't know." 
 It was as much how he said it as what he said. (I'm fogging up again, just writing about it.) Joe Biden's family means everything to him.  He lost his first wife and baby daughter in a terrible car crash in 1972, a little more than a month after he was elected senator in Delaware.  His two sons, Beau and Hunter, spent weeks in the hospital, Joe by their side every day.

On May 30 of this year, Joe's son Beau died at just 46 after a heroic battle with brain cancer.  Beau, Delaware's Attorney General before his illness took him out of public life, showed signs of following in his father's footsteps.   His reputation as a "good guy" pleased Joe no end.  There might have been a Biden dynasty and the people would have benefited.  But it wasn't to be, and now Joe the family man is tired and grieving.   

 A presidential run is grueling, it's exhausting, it's rife with cruelty. The presidency itself is a thankless job, made even more so by factions intent on not just weakening it but destroying it altogether.  The perks--a long-term stay in the nation's mansion, limousines and a veritable airliner as modes of transportation, aides and servants at your beck and call--can't make up for the endless demands for Solomon-like decisions, the gnawing, nightmarish responsibilities as a world leader, the constant opposition to the obligations of serving the peoples' needs.  A person like Joe would take the office of the presidency seriously.  Those decisions would haunt him.  I need to stop asking him to do it.

So give it up, Joe.  Please.  You don't need to be president to be one of the great ones.  You can step into Jimmy Carter's shoes and become our favorite uncle.  The one who speaks to us in quiet tones, reminding us that we have to work at doing the right thing--it doesn't always come naturally.The one who shows us, even if our hearts are breaking, how it can be done.

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Liberaland)

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