The irrepressible Biden

Emmett Tyrrell

6/23/2005 12:00:00 AM - Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A rainbow of happiness has just arched across this great capital. It is about time. For several weeks, life here has been glum. The Democrats are very indignant. The Republicans are apparently stunned. This has been a dreary time to be in Washington.
First the Democrats went into full howl about President George W. Bush's intention to nominate like-minded judges to the federal judiciary. Then they decided that his nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, was not a nice person. Finally their No. 2 in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, compared American troops serving abroad to Nazis and Communists, and the Democrats closed ranks around this modern-day Daniel Webster. The Republicans can only cringe.

 Whew, these are difficult times for those of us who expect a laugh or two out of politics. Yet happiness is back. We can laugh again. The irrepressible Sen. Joe Biden has announced on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he is seeking the presidency. He thought about running in 2004, but feared he had gotten the presidential itch too late. Dr. Howard Dean was already a shoo-in. Now he only has Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to worry about, and Sen. Biden apparently is not all that worried. Perhaps he shares my childlike belief that the American people are becoming impatient with liars. Sen. Clinton has been caught lying so many times by independent counsels and others that the American people will give her candidacy short shrift.

 So what words will the golden-throated senator choose when he announces his formal candidacy? How about, "I am running for president of the United States and have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat"? Perhaps that would be too solemn. Maybe he will say, "You have nothing to fear but fear itself. So I am running for president." Keep it light. Or he might attempt the hortatory mode, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall because I am running for president." Or, "Reporting for duty, and I am running for president."

 You might recall that Sen. Biden ran once before, seeking the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. Within no time, he was caught plagiarizing from the stock speech of Neil Kinnock, who was then hidden away in London as leader of Britain's Labour Party. Soon it was discovered that he had also plagiarized from other little known figures, Robert Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. I have forgotten what lines he pilfered from Jackson. Conceivably it was the one about his coming from "the outhouse to the White House." I doubt he used Jesse's line about New York being "Hymietown." But anything is possible. This is a longtime Democrat we are talking about.

 During his 1988 trials, it was also discovered that he had been guilty of plagiarizing in law school. He bowed out of the 1988 race saying, "There'll be other presidential campaigns, and I'll be there." Who said this originally I have not been able to discover -- possibly it is a line from Shakespeare. The senator went on to say that politics is a tough business and, by gum, he is a tough guy. He is also a liar and plagiarist. He told his audience on "Face the Nation" that one of the issues he will stress as he tests the waters for his campaign is that the president has not been honest with the American people about Iraq. Imagine -- Sen. Biden is going to make President Bush's honesty an issue.

 Actually many in the Democratic Party have been having a problem with honesty. Both Clintons have been caught in lies; and Bill, who signed an affidavit admitting to lying during the Lewinsky affair, is now lying about the affidavit. Jean-Francois Kerry was caught repeatedly lying during his pursuit of the presidency, most spectacularly about his military record. Al Gore's lies, starting with his claims about the Internet, were wonderfully amusing during Campaign 2000. Sen. Edward Kennedy is still lying about Chappaquiddick, and I could go on. One of my favorite Democratic liars is Bill Clinton's comparatively unknown secretary of labor, Robert Reich. In his memoir recalling his service to the country, he made up conversations and appearances before Congress. His lies were fully exposed, but he continues to appear on television and in public forums as a sage. Possibly Reich could be Sen. Biden's running mate.