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Biden to Buttigieg: I Never Say This, But You Remind Me Of My Deceased Son [However...]

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Posted: Mar 04, 2020 1:45 PM

A leftover from the Great Consolidation pre-Super Tuesday, but worth flagging nonetheless. In a touching and deeply meaningful tribute, former Vice President (and renewed frontrunner) Joe Biden embraced the endorsement of former Pete Buttigieg in Dallas Monday evening by telling the former South Bend Mayor that the recently-departed 2020 contender reminded Biden of his late son, Beau. Here's video of the lovely moment:


Reporters on hand and observers said the moment was poignant and that Buttigieg was visibly moved. Fair enough. It's a profound thing to say, and a profound thing to hear. But social media quickly started to point out that Biden had, in fact, done precisely this before. In the most recent election cycle, in fact:

Former Vice President Joe Biden paid Democratic congressional candidate Conor Lamb the ultimate compliment Tuesday: “He reminds me of my son Beau,” Mr. Biden said, referring to the Delaware attorney general who died of cancer in 2015. “He reminds me of my Beau because with Beau and with Conor, it’s about the other guy,” Mr. Biden said in remarks in a crowded Collier union hall Tuesday afternoon and again in an evening appearance before several hundred people in a ballroom at Robert Morris University in Moon.

That was Biden on the stump for a Congressional Democratic candidate, another man in his 30's, almost exactly two years ago, ahead of a special election in Pennsylvania. Biden has every right to dispense this emotional assessment as often as he likes; he's endured a lot of grief in his life, and it's a sweet thing to say. But his remark that he didn't think he'd ever done something like that before, when he very much had -- fairly recently, and in a similar political context -- is just a little bit strange, in that it reminds me of another story involving a former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee. This is from John Kerry's autobiography:

Something made me uncertain whether I could count on him for an eight-year partnership which in turn would set him up for a presidency of his own. I think in an effort to reassure me, John [Edwards] recounted a story he told me that he hadn’t shared with anyone before. It was the story of [his son] Wade’s death and that moment alone with his body. Something unsettled me. It seemed too familiar. It was the exact same memory he had shared four years before at dinner.

The Edwards example is far creepier because he was recounting the death of his son in order to 'connect' with someone who was on the brink of offering him a powerful job, forgetting that he'd shared the exact same 'never-before-told' story with the same person years prior. I just find the phenomenon of politicians getting hyper-personal to be interesting and occasionally off-putting. It's part of the job, but at what point does it get weird, cynical or even voyeuristic? In Edwards' case, it was conniving. In Biden's case, I just think he got caught up in a moment and forgot that he'd employed the same (loaded) compliment in praise of another politician last cycle. Forgetfulness is a hallmark of Biden's campaign. He called Chris Wallace "Chuck" on Sunday, talked about "Super Thursday" on Monday, and then this happened:


In spite of his major spike since South Carolina, Joe is...still Joe.